The FTC v. Microsoft trial may be over, but that hasn’t stopped new information from leaking out of the trial. The latest leak included numerous documents revealing Microsoft’s plans for upcoming games, possible acquisitions, and the future of the Xbox ecosystem.
One of the biggest bits of information we learned is that a new refresh of the Xbox Series X is coming in 2024, and while it has plenty of technological specs to dive into, the first thing you notice is the new cylindrical design.
It looks like a lot of other tech — an Apple Mac Pro, an oversized Amazon Alexa, perhaps a wireless internet hub. To put it plainly, it's boring — just like most console designs on the market today. Whatever happened to style?
The first thoughts I had when Sony and Microsoft revealed the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X respectively was... wow, these new consoles are ugly. While the attempt at sleek modernity in both consoles clearly aims to appeal to a broader audience, they were both obscenely big and yet incredibly boring. Sony feels especially offensive in this regard considering the company has some of the most well-designed consoles in history — just look at the PlayStation 1, 2, or 4. (The PS3 is fine.)
And then there’s the absence of color. The matte black for Xbox and matte white (that will never be clean again after unboxing) for Sony. Growing up, I always had the latest Nintendo handheld, like my purple Game Boy Color or shiny red Nintendo DS. It was always an important choice to be made that would distinguish my console from my friends. But there were always enough colors that none of us had the same one.
Nintendo still leads the pack when it comes to adding fun to the company’s hardware. Joy-Cons come in a wide array of colors, and while the Switch Lite isn’t for everybody, the color options are all excellent (including a nostalgic blueish-purple that evokes the GameCube).
Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft are hard on the black-and-white color schemes. It adheres to a sensible tech design aesthetic that helps the hardware read as not just a toy for kids, but why is there no room for more energetic color? Part of the appeal of the PlayStation 5 is the interchangeable covers, but Sony only offers a handful, most of which lean into cooler tones.
Microsoft has its own offering in the form of Xbox Design Lab, a tool that lets players customize colorful controllers. The recent leak did reveal that Microsoft may be leaning into Xbox Design Lab even more by offering console customization, which would let you get a new console in whatever color scheme you desire. But until that happens the only option is boring black for the Series X and white for the Series S.
It's high time we bring back some color in gaming. Games are fun, and I want my console to be fun too. It’s a service I would gladly pay for, and it would help liven up the monotony of the TV stand filled with black and white boxes and cylinders in my apartment.
I won’t force everybody around me to get a translucent purple PS5, but at least give me the option.