Standard solid state drives are a lot cheaper these days, but for the kind of super-fast storage that the new Xboxes and PlayStation 5 are embracing, prices are still pretty high. That reality is being reflected in the cost of the new 1 terabyte expandable storage drives for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, which will cost $219.99.
The Verge reports that Microsoft plans to offer more compatible drives from different manufacturers and at different sizes in the future, but that price tag will be the one to ponder when the consoles launch on November 10. Made by Seagate, the flagship 1 TB proprietary drive will be the only way to expand the fast-loading storage on a Series X (which comes with 1 TB internally) or a Series S (only 512 GB) as Microsoft enters the next-gen market.
As explained earlier this year with the first tech tear-downs of the Series X, you will be able to use other external hard-drives with these new Xboxes, but you won't be able to run next-gen games off of them. Those drives will work with Xbox One and backward compatibility titles, but the input-output speeds that the Series X and Series S target are high enough such that Microsoft has concluded that proprietary drives are the way to go.
Sony's taking a different approach with the PS5's expandable storage, but the prices for compatible drives will likely be quite similar to this Xbox drive for a while. Instead of working with manufacturers on proprietary drives, the PS5 will support off-the-shelf NVMe M.2 drives so long as they're approved by Sony—the drives have to be both fast enough for PS5 spec and slim enough to fit in the console's storage bay.
The high price of the Xbox's new storage solution may be particularly disappointing for early adopters of the Series S. A $299 Series S plus the 1 TB Seagate drive costs more than a Series X on its own, and the internal 512 GB drive will likely only accommodate a few next-gen games at a time. Xbox's Director of Project Management Jason Ronald does promises that install sizes for Series S will be "approximately 30% smaller" than those for Series X because the S's lower target resolution means games don't need their highest-quality texture assets, but that's unlikely to keep the all-digital console from filling up fast.
If the next generation brings us more games rivaling Call of Duty: Modern Warfare plus Warzone in size, a lot of folks are going to want to expand their storage down the line. In the meantime, with no guarantee that these proprietary drives will be particularly easy to find in the early days of this new Xbox generation, people may want to keep a slower external drive on hand and prepare for regular file-shuffling starting a few months from now.