Microsoft plans to refresh its Xbox hardware lineup in 2024 with new versions of the Series S and Series X consoles and a new “more immersive” controller, according to unredacted documents released as part of the Federal Trade Commission’s case against the Activision Blizzard merger that have apparently been released by accident.
Series X will get the most dramatic redesign, codenamed “Brooklin.” The premium console will have a new, cylindrical case and no disc drive, meaning Xbox will leave physical media behind entirely with this mid-generation refresh. The Series X’s storage will be doubled to 2 TB, its wireless and bluetooth capabilities will be upgraded, it will be more power efficient, and there’ll be a new USB-C port on the front. It will have the same price point as the current console, at $499, and Microsoft is planning to release it in November 2024.
The Brooklin Series X will be preceded to market by “Ellewood,” a new version of the Series S. Ellewood is set to be released in September 2024, again at the existing price point of $299. Ellewood looks much the same as the current Series S, but crucially its storage will be upgraded to 1 TB. (There’s currently a carbon black Series S available with 1 TB of storage, but at the higher price of $349.99.) It will also boast the same improved wireless chipsets and power efficiency as the Brooklin Series X. Microsoft intends to clear stock of the old, 512 GB Series S model with a $199 offer during Black Friday 2024.
Both new consoles will come bundled with the new Xbox controller, codenamed Sebile. Shown in Microsoft’s documents in a two-tone black-and-white finish, this controller will have new precision haptic feedback (with “VCA haptics [that] double as speakers,” according to Microsoft’s notes), more durable modular thumbsticks, quieter buttons and thumbsticks, an accelerometer for gyro controls, and upgraded bluetooth and wireless connectivity. Thanks to the gyro, you’ll be able to simply lift the controller to wake it.
Microsoft intends to launch the Sebile controller separately in June 2024 — alongside the planned announcement of the new consoles. It’s billed as having “direct-to-cloud” capability (presumably meaning it can communicate directly with Xbox Cloud gaming servers over wifi, reducing input latency, much like Google’s ill-fated Stadia controller). Sebile will also boast “seamless” pairing and switching between multiple devices, assisted by a mobile app (probably the Xbox app).
The leaked document — a presentation deck titled “Roadmap to 2030” — positions the controller as the central device in the Xbox ecosystem, which players will use to play on many different devices and the cloud. “Controller becomes the hero,” one bullet point proclaims, adding: “The new Xbox controller is the only thing you need to play on every device. This low barrier to entry will fuel subscriber growth.”
Nevertheless, Microsoft certainly still sees consoles as central to its Xbox business. “Consoles are considered a key health meter for the brand and will continue to drive [the] majority of revenue and subscribers,” another bullet point says.
The document makes much of the improvements to sustainability in this new Xbox line. The Brooklin Series X will draw 15% less power overall, while the low-power standby mode of both consoles uses just 20% of the power of the current Series S standby mode. The Sebile controller is made from more recycled materials and less resin, has a removable and replaceable rechargeable battery, and is designed to be disassembled for repair.
On the wireless front, upgrades to Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and Xbox Wireless 2 should deliver faster and more reliable connections to the internet and between devices.
The decision to leave discs behind completely will likely be more controversial. The document doesn’t address this other than to list “all-digital ecosystem” as part of Microsoft’s goal to “maintain technology leadership and innovation.”
Everything about the leaked document appears credible, but it’s worth noting that it’s dated May 2022, and plans like these change all the time; it could already be out of date. Even if these plans for the refreshed hardware range remain accurate, Microsoft may now be forced to change them in response to this leak. Polygon has contacted Microsoft for comment.