With Xbox Game Pass and the simultaneous launch of a cheaper, digital-only alternative to the Xbox Series X, Microsoft is poised to focus even more on subscriptions and digital purchases in the future. Then again, folks who buy the Xbox Series S will likely find themselves in need of additional storage for all those downloaded titles.
Reviews for both the Series X and Series S went live today, meaning outlets that received the smaller, $299 Xbox model (see Polygon and IGN) can finally confirm that it only has 364 GB of usable space on its 512 GB drive. In contrast, the $499 Xbox Series X comes with a 1 TB drive that ends up having 802 GB of space left over once the operating system is accounted for.
To break down the numbers a bit, while the Xbox Series S uses less hard drive space for the operating system than the Xbox Series X does, it ends up losing a larger percentage of its built-in storage. About 29% of the Xbox Series S hard drive's space is unusable compared to around 20% for the Xbox Series X (leaks suggest that about 20% of the PS5's 825 GB of storage is off-limits as well).
Even before knowing how much space on the 512 GB drive wouldn't be usable, the reduction in storage on the Xbox Series S was a potential cause for concern. With a launch window title like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War weighing in at 136 GB on next-gen Xboxes, an average Xbox Series S buyer could easily see their entire built-in storage consumed by a handful of games installed within weeks or days of getting the console.
Both next-gen Xbox consoles support different forms of expandable storage, but it'll cost quite a bit for added space that's compatible with newer titles. You can hook up an external hard drive (solid state or otherwise) to an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S for game storage and backward compatibility titles, but Microsoft has decided to make its expandable, fast-loading NVMe storage solution a proprietary add-on. At launch, the only option for this will be a 1TB Seagate drive that costs $219.
The folks at Digital Foundry tested a range of external drives to find one that'll work best for the next-gen Xbox consoles when it comes to backups and older games, and lots of folks with Series S will surely make do with that before getting a proprietary drive. Microsoft also promises that some titles will take up less space on an Xbox Series S than they do on Series X. Still, 364 GB isn't a lot no matter how you slice it, and it could be a long while before we see cheaper expansion drives coming from Xbox.
For more on where Microsoft's next-gen hardware stands, read USgamer Editor-in-Chief Kat Bailey's review of the Xbox Series X.