For some time, Microsoft has been rumored to have a smaller and cheaper version of the Xbox Series X waiting in the wings. Its name: the Xbox Series S, internally known as “Lockhart” (the X gets the far cooler sounding “Anaconda” codename). Now we have some proof to show that the Xbox Series S is indeed real, thanks to Microsoft’s own documentation for developers.
The leak comes via security researcher TileOS who shared the June release notes for Microsoft’s Game Development Kit. And yes, it does contain a typo.
More proof of Lockhart, this time from the XDK/GDK release notes for June 2020. pic.twitter.com/hulDoC9owvJune 24, 2020
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The section unpromisingly begins with what looks to be a typo: “LockhardProfiling mode,” it reads. “GPU Capture may fail in LockhartProfiling mode if the title is using all available title memory.”
A second picture shows that the Scarlet Dev Kit is capable of both “AnacondaProfiling” and “LockhartProfiling modes.” This isn’t just a codename for Xbox One hardware, either – the Xbox One X and S get their own references immediately below.
Of course this doesn’t tell us much about the specs, other than that the Series S will be sufficiently weak that it can run into memory issues. But the smart money is on the Xbox Series S being a disk-drive free version of the Series X with cut-down specs, capable of running games at 1080p or 2K resolutions, perhaps, but not quite reaching the 4K majesty of its bigger brother.
The thinking is that Microsoft will then sell this at a substantially lower price, hoping to catch people who don’t have funds for the X, but want a next-gen experience. It might seem crazy that Microsoft would push people away from its more expensive product, but it’s actually to the company’s advantage: a disk-free version means all software sales go through Microsoft’s own download store, while simultaneously killing the pre-owned market stone dead.
In the long run, it might be in Microsoft’s interests to sell the Xbox Series S at a substantial loss, safe in the knowledge that it’ll make up the difference in the long run through the Xbox Games Store and, of course, GamePass subscriptions.
Now we know that the Xbox Series S is real, the big remaining question is whether Microsoft will put it on sale at the same time as the Series X. On one hand, the company may want to give eager consumers the chance to pay more for the Series X. On the other, stealing the thunder from Sony’s freshly announced PlayStation 5 Digital Edition must seem awfully tempting...