Expandable storage for Micosoft’s upcoming Xbox Series X and S consoles has finally been priced, with Best Buy in the US taking pre-orders at $220 (£172 but likely to come out around £200 with tax).
No UK retailers appear to be offering the drive for sale yet. And even in the US it seems to have come a little late, a few days after the initial pre-order allocations. Of course that might be purposeful, as the relatively high cost of additional storage in this generation is unlikely to have made it a must-have accessory at the pre-order launch.
That high cost is well justified of course, with the next-gen consoles both switching to far faster SSD storage for the first time, and making much of it with far faster load times. Seeing the price of this drive also reinforces the relatively high price of the two consoles, both of which carry significant amounts of the expensive storage medium.
Where they differ is that Microsoft has gone with a proprietary add-on format, currently produced only by Seagate. While Sony is letting consumers use ‘any’ NVME 4.0 SSD, with the ‘any’ being in brackets due to the current limited numbers of such drives meeting Sony’s speed requirements. The Verge notes that Samsung’s new 980 Pro does so, but that too costs around the same price as Microsoft’s own drive, at $230.
More concerning is the cost ratio between the new storage and the Xbox Series S, almost doubling the price of the smaller console should consumers feel they need the extra space, and effectively making the Series X a far better buy in this case. A cheaper 512GB expansions will hopefully solve this problem at some point. And failing that it will be interesting to see if third-parties are able to create unlicensed versions of the drive.
Accessories and add-ons have long been a key part of gaming’s retail proposition. So Microsoft and Seagate will need to provide ample stock of the new devices and quickly in order to satisfy retail and consumer needs – with games growing rapidly in size even in the current generation.
Another alternative, to save on downloads at least, is to use a cheaper traditional USB hard disk as a form of backup storage and transfer currently unused titles onto that. Older games running under backward compatibility can also be run from such hardware.