The Xbox Series X is launching later this year, but rumour has it that won’t be the only Xbox game in town this year, with a cheaper Xbox Series S also rumoured to release alongside it.
The budget-friendly console has been rumoured for years, with multiple leaks confirming that it’s been under development with the code name ‘Lockhart’ – while the pricier Series X was dubbed ‘Anaconda’.
Microsoft has since confirmed launch plans for the Xbox Series X, but there have been a few leaks that suggest it’s still quietly working on Lockhart too, and might be set to unveil it this summer.
What is the Xbox Series S?
Put simply, this will be a cheaper, smaller, less powerful version of the headline Xbox Series X.
The easiest comparison is to the current Xbox lineup: the Series S will replace the Xbox One S, while the Series X takes over from the Xbox One X as the more powerful big daddy of the Xbox lineup.
Going by the all-digital edition of the Xbox One S and the upcoming Digital Edition of the PS5, it’s also possible that the Series S will omit a disc drive entirely, and stick purely to streaming and downloading games.
We still don’t know for sure that the Series S even exists, since Microsoft hasn’t actually announced it, but there’s been plenty of evidence.
The most recent is Xbox development kit update notes found by security researcher TitleOS that reference ‘LockhartProfiling’ alongside ‘AnacondaProfiling’ (Anaconda was the internal codename for the Series X before it was announced).
Will it come out at the same time as the Xbox Series X?
That’s the hope, but since it hasn’t been announced yet it may be that if the Series S exists it won’t launch in the same ‘Holiday 2020’ release window as the Series X and PS5.
That’s supported by industry insider Brad Sams’ claim that Lockhart was originally set to launch in October – months after a planned August lunch for the main Series X.
As for the announcement, there have been plenty of rumours that Microsoft is working towards a showcase event to unveil the new console.
Windows Central reports that Xbox employees have been testing the Series S at home since mid-April, which lends credence to the idea that a full launch is imminent.
A Eurogamer report suggested that the console was originally supposed to be unveiled at E3 2020 in June, but was re-shuffled and is now likely to appear in an August episode of Inside Xbox, following July’s reveal of first-party games including Halo Infinite.
How much will the Series S cost?
We don’t know, and since we don’t know how much the Series X will cost either, it’s hard to predict. Most people reckon the pricier console will sit around the £400-500 mark, so we’d hope the Series S will be something like £300/$300.
A price like that would also line up with the current One S, which starts from £199/$249 for its all-digital version – it makes sense that the next-gen model would start for a bit more than that, to give Microsoft room to drop the price over the next few years.
What will it look like?
Unsurprisingly we don’t really know. The image at the top of this article is a fan render that imagines what the Series S could look like – essentially a smaller version of the tower-like Xbox Series X, and in white rather than black.
The larger, black Xbox Series X design
That would match the colour conventions of the current Xbox range, and it certainly makes sense that the S would be smaller, since it will pack in lighter specs and thus need less cooling too.
What are the Series S specs?
There’s one concrete spec rumour, which comes from Windows Central. The site reports that the Series S will boast four teraflops of GPU computing power – impressive, but a drop from the 12 teraflops in the Series X.
That would actually put it on a similar power level to the current Xbox One X, but it’s likely to boast a few next-gen perks like SSD storage and maybe even some limited ray-tracing support.
As mentioned above, we also think it’s possible that it will drop the disc drive to save on space and cost.
What games will run on the Xbox Series S?
It’s expected that the Series S will run all the same games as the Series X, but will simply drop a few graphical features to do so.
That means it should play all of the games confirmed to release on the next generation of consoles, including Halo Infinite, Cyberpunk 2077, Hellblade 2, FIFA 21, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Microsoft also revealed the first next-gen gameplay – from the more powerful Xbox Series X, admittedly – in an Inside Xbox stream on 7 May. Games showcased on this stream included:
Bright Memory Infinite
Vampyre the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2
Call of the Sea
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Then in July the company showed off even more games, including our first look at plenty of first-party Xbox Game Studio titles:
State of Decay 3
New Forza Motorsport
Tell Me Why
Ori and the Will of the Wisps (XSX remaster)
Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon (DLC)
As Dusk Falls
Destiny 2: Beyond Light
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
Tetris Effect: Connected
New Genesis: Phantasy Star Online 2
Check out our full guide to the biggest upcoming games for more of what’s on the horizon.