We’re reaching what could be called the middle of the console generation. The PS5 and Xbox Series X/S have been on general release for almost three years at time of writing, and since console generations tend to last around six or seven years, we could well be in the eye of the storm, so to speak.
Of course, there’s every chance the cycle will slow down given that advances in technology are feeling ever more incremental, but assuming things stay as they are, we probably have another three or four years of this generation left.
With that in mind, thoughts are starting to turn to whether a PS5 Pro or Xbox Series X Pro are on the cards. It would make sense if console manufacturers decided to release refreshed machines; the technical capabilities of both consoles are starting to feel a little stretched, with games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Gotham Knights launching without 60fps options.
Still, there are a number of obstacles standing in the way of potential refreshes for this console generation. Let’s take a look at everything we currently know about the Xbox Series X Pro (name, of course, not final).
Microsoft hasn’t made any official announcements about the Xbox Series X Pro
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: there have been no official announcements regarding the Xbox Series X Pro, or Xbox Series X Elite, or whatever it might end up being called. Microsoft is playing coy regarding the existence of any potential mid-generation refresh for the Xbox Series X, having made no suggestions that one could be on the way.
It could be that Microsoft is watching to see what Sony does. At the moment, reports suggest that Xbox sales are trailing behind PS5, even though Microsoft doesn’t report its hardware sales anymore. That could mean that Microsoft is wary of making consumers commit to new hardware when the currently-available systems aren’t selling as well as the company might hope.
However, the lack of an official announcement could also simply be because Microsoft isn’t ready to announce the console yet. We’re just around the corner from E3 season (although E3 itself isn’t happening this year, of course), and major announcements regarding games and hardware are often made around this time. We might well see Microsoft committing to a new mid-generation refresh during its showcase this year, although that seems unlikely.
Rumours suggest an Xbox Series X Pro could be in the works
Of course, the lack of an official announcement by Microsoft hasn’t stopped the rumour mill from swirling. Late last year, a rumour surfaced courtesy of Rockstar leaker Tez2, who said that “mid-life upgrades” had been sent out to developers in the form of dev kits. This suggests that an Xbox Series X Pro is indeed happening, and that a PS5 Pro could also be on the way.
In addition, electronics company TCL held a presentation in mid-2022 in which they looked forward to console generation 9.5, as they called it. The generation will see the advent of a new Xbox Series X/S variant, according to TCL, as well as a PS5 Pro.
Since then, industry figures have apparently stepped forward to quash those rumours, dismissing the TCL presentation as speculation. It’s easy to see how that could be the case; TCL could simply be trying to prepare for any scenario and respond to it in kind. However, the presentation could also suggest insider knowledge on TCL’s part (although we admit that this particular source is somewhat thin).
Should there be an Xbox Series X Pro?
With rumours swirling and Microsoft remaining tight-lipped about their potential mid-generation refresh, the question remains thus: should an Xbox Series X Pro even exist? There are numerous arguments for both sides. On the one hand, one could argue that the consoles we have now are starting to struggle with higher-profile releases, and that larger storage capacities and extra features could help Microsoft’s apparently-ailing hardware division.
On the other hand, however, both Microsoft and Sony are emerging from a prolonged hardware drought that saw scalpers immediately snapping up the few consoles that did become available in order to sell them at ludicrously inflated prices. It’s hard to argue that consumers would be excited at the prospect of buying yet another console just a few months after the originals became widely available.
There’s also the small matter of the Xbox Series S, which is, in many ways, Microsoft’s secret weapon. This capable little machine is designed for 1440p gaming, and is specifically positioned as a way for those without Series X cash to enter the next generation. Would a potential mid-generation refresh also take the Series S into account, or would it only be for the Series X?
If mid-generation refresh consoles are on the way, here’s what we’d like to see. The Series X needs a larger storage drive; games are taking up more and more room, and a single terabyte just isn’t going to cut it anymore. That drive could also be a little faster to match the PS5’s lightning-fast SSD.
We’d like to see greater graphical capabilities, but performance is more important; the promise of “performance modes”, in which 60fps can be reached with small sacrifices to graphical fidelity, has arguably not quite been fulfilled by many games, and we’d like to see an across-the-board promise that performance mode will be present in every new AAA game. For that, a refresh would certainly be needed.
If the Series S was refreshed as well, then we’d like to see it essentially match the capabilities of the currently-existing Series X, with many games capable of reaching 4K60. The Series S’ small form factor could make that difficult, as could its reduced price, but hey – it’s our wishlist! Whatever happens next, you can bet we’ll be right there to tell you all about it, so keep your eyes on us for more news.