Microsoft has been quick to talk about its upcoming Xbox Series X console and silent on the possibility of releasing a low-priced alternative alongside it. But that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning out reports.
Over the last several months, periodic reports have predicted that Microsoft will release two new consoles this year. The first, known as the Xbox Series X, will be its flagship option, complete with high-end performance and all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a $400 to $500 console.
The second, rumored to be codenamed Xbox Lockhart, could be a disc-less alternative, available for significantly less than the Xbox Series X, and perhaps a cheaper way to break into the next generation.
If Xbox Lockhart exists, Microsoft isn’t saying. But in a surprise twist last week, security researcher TitleOS posted images from Windows code that made five references to an “Xbox-Lockhart” alongside “Xbox-Anaconda,” the codename for Xbox Series X.
It’s the best evidence yet that Xbox Lockhart may exist. And there’s now far more reason to believe Microsoft has a second Xbox in the works. Read on for more on Xbox Lockhart and everything we know so far about the company’s possible plans:
Forget the disc
Since early 2019, nearly every rumor surrounding Xbox Lockhart has centered on the idea that the device would be disc-less. Instead, Xbox Lockhart will only work with digital games (and presumably streaming games).
It’s expected that the device will work with Xbox Series X games, and should be capable of playing Xbox One X games. But if you’re hoping to pop one of your discs into the console, you’ll be out of luck. Think of it like the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, but for next-generation content.
A less-powerful (but still powerful) choice
According to sources who spoke to Kotaku, Xbox Lockhart will deliver support for a 1440p resolution. However, because Microsoft has said that the Xbox Series X will support up to 8K resolution, it’s possible Xbox Lockhart will go with 4K resolution instead.
On the processor front, several industry watchers speculate that a previously unannounced AMD chip will power Xbox Lockhart. We don’t quite know what clock speeds it’ll muster, but it’s possible, according to report from The Verge, that it’ll be clocked down to create a tangible difference in performance against the Xbox Series X.
Will it be known as Xbox Series S?
If Xbox Lockhart exists, several rumors have said it’ll be known as Xbox Series S if it is the real deal.
It would make sense.
Microsoft has stuck to the X branding in its new flagship offering, creating a clear line between the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X. If Microsoft delivers a cheaper alternative, drawing a similar line between the Xbox One S and Xbox Series S seems reasonable.
Developers are crafting games
Developers might ultimately prove to be the biggest problem in Microsoft’s quest for secrecy.
Microsoft-tracking site Windows Central revealed earlier this year that it spoke to developers who said they’re creating games for Xbox Lockhart. They stopped short of saying which games would be available and whether the titles would be designed solely for the Xbox Lockhart, but that seems like a good sign that the budget console is under development.
Employees are trying it out
In another Windows Central leak in April, the site said that it spoke to sources inside Microsoft who said they’ve been taking Xbox Lockhart home to try it out. There’s been no word since then, however, on whether testing continues or if the device was shelved.
A cheaper price
The possibility of Xbox Lockhart carrying a cheaper price than the Xbox Series X is a near-guarantee.
In an interview with The Verge last year, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that Microsoft learned a lesson by pricing the Xbox One too high at the start of this console generation, and said that Microsoft “will not be out of position on power or price” this time around. That certainly sounds like Xbox Lockhart is coming — and at a cheaper price.
For as much as (we think) we know about Xbox Lockhart, questions abound. We still don’t know what the device may look like and how much cheaper it’ll be than the Xbox Series X. And although Microsoft has promised Xbox Series X for the holidays, it’s still unclear whether Lockhart will launch alongside the higher-end option or not.
Microsoft knows for sure what the future holds for budget-friendly Xbox consoles. But, hopefully, we’ll find out soon if Lockhart fits into those plans.