Microsoft revealed the impressive specs of the Xbox Series X on Monday, confirming it would not only have a 1 TB SSD, but expandable storage as well. However, there's lots of evidence to suggest that those proprietary memory expansions will be costly for those who plan to gather an extensive library of games, whether at launch or in the years to come.
Seagate's expansion cards for the Xbox Series X are proprietary, so we don't yet know the exact price. However, US Gamer notes similar products currently on the market are pretty expensive. Non-proprietary SSD cards of this capacity can cost anywhere from $129.99 to $214.99, and it's likely that the Xbox Series X's expandable memory will fall somewhere within that range. If you want to buy multiple terabytes of additional memory, the cost of owning an Xbox Series X could go up by hundreds of dollars.
When the next-generation systems themselves are already predicted to cost upwards of $500 (with some rumored, cheaper $300 alternatives), this is not a great look for Microsoft. If a lower-end model comes with reduced storage, requiring the purchase of more expandible memory feels like a bait and switch. If you want to buy the console, an additional controller, games, and more memory, the Xbox Series X could wind up costing up to $1000 all-in when it finally hits stores.
This is reminiscent of when the Nintendo Switch launched with only 32 GB of memory, prompting many players to buy high-capacity SD cards in order to keep all of their games downloaded on their system. The PS Vita ran into similar issues. Xbox Series X will be dealing with this on a much larger scale, given Microsoft's do-or-die position in the console market at present.
One upside to this added cost is that games will be transferrable to any console, so it will provide an easy way to bring your save data or digital games over to a friend's house. Funnily enough, this is somewhat reminiscent of the GameCube and PS2 era. Things appear to have come full circle, two decades later.
The Inverse Analysis
While we don't know much Xbox Series X will cost yet, the expensive nature of expandable memory becomes pretty problematic if that price is over $400. As games get larger and larger, with more titles coming in over 100 GB, we're worried the Series X won't be able to handle more than a few games without an expensive addition.
The one bright side in this whole situation is that getting games to play on the Xbox Series X will actually be much cheaper than those hopping to PS5. Not only is the Xbox Series X poised to be backward compatible with all of Microsoft's previous systems, but Xbox Game Pass will net players over a hundred functional games, enhanced or not, on day one. (That includes Halo Infinite!) While players may end up spending a ton to store all of those games, and least they'll be saving on the games themselves.
Xbox Series X is set to launch in late 2020.