Next-Gen Xbox Game Console Specs Leak Reveals A Zen Surprise And Pricing Strategy

Render of the SoC inside the Xbox Series X console.
It's already been three years (just over) since Microsoft and Sony launched their respective modern-generation game consoles, the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, respectively—both debuted in November 2020. Notwithstanding a mid-gen refresh, it will still be a few years before we see another major iteration from either side. Though it's still relatively early, some interesting details about what Microsoft has in store as its successor to the Xbox Series X have emerged, and apparently plans have changed in the past several months.

What plans, you ask? Just a few months ago, court documents related to the FTC versus Microsoft case leaked out revealing that Microsoft had, at some point, planned to launch a "cloud hybrid" game console possibly based on AMD's upcoming Zen 6 architecture, along with a semi-custom Navi 5 GPU. Here's a look at the slide...

Xbox slide on a cohesive hybrid compute Xbox console.

"Our Vision: Develop a next generation hybrid game platform capable of leveraging the combined power of the client and cloud to deliver deeper immersion and entirely new classes of game experiences," the Microsoft documented stated. "Optimized for real-time game play and creators, we will enable new levels of performance beyond the capabilities of the client hardware alone."

Sounds intriguing, right? Well, not so fast. According to Paul Eccleston of YouTube channel RedGamingTech, Microsoft's plans have changed rather significantly since those documents came to light. Based on the chatter he's hearing from developers and other sources, Microsoft's next-gen Xbox console will feature Zen 5 hardware inside instead of Zen 6.

That can be taken as disappointing news by console gamers who might be hoping for a more powerful upgrade when the time comes, though there is some good news that goes along with the supposed revelation. According to Eccleston, the reason why Microsoft may go with Zen 5 on the next major Xbox iteration is because it wants to release it earlier and cheaper than Sony's eventual PlayStation 6. Simply put, Zen 6 won't be ready in time if Microsoft releases its next Xbox as early as it wants to—2026, according to the report.

Assuming it plays out this way, Microsoft would be reusing the same general strategy it employed with the Xbox 360. That console came out a year before the PlayStation 3. The Xbox 360 was less powerful than its eventual rival, and who can forget the dreaded Red Ring of Death issue. However, it was also cheaper and ultimately a successful console launch.

The other upshot is an earlier release affords Microsoft the opportunity to release a mid-gen refresh to possibly close and/or leapfrog over the performance gap with the PS6.

It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds, as well as what Sony has up its sleeve for the PS6 series. We also can't forget about Nintendo, though it typically looks for interesting use case scenarios (like the Wii and Switch), leaving Microsoft and Sony to battle each other in a specs war.