Microsoft has just announced two new SSD storage expansion cards, made by its official storage partner, Seagate, to boost space on your Xbox Series S or X. Joining the already released 1TB card will be a 512GB card for $139.99, and a hefty 2TB for $399.99, released in November and December, respectively. The larger drive is a hundred bucks more than an Xbox Series S would cost you in the first place.
Storage was one of the odder aspects of last year’s new consoles. All three launched with decidedly small NVMe SSD drives, presumably in an effort to keep costs down. The PS5 launched with a peculiar 825GB of storage, of which just 667GB is available for storing your games. The Xbox Series X has a slightly more capacious 1TB drive, in which 802GB is yours to use, while the Series S sports a teeny 512GB, leaving just 364GB for use. That’s not a great deal of space when typical AAA console games are arriving at around 80GB each.
Of course, the more cynical reader might suggest this creates a good opportunity for upselling, as players quickly realize they can’t keep more than a couple of triple-A manshoots on their machines at once. Not wanting to have to delete something old every time you buy something new means a lot of players are going to be forking out for some storage relief at some point.
The new cards announced today are certainly welcome, given Microsoft’s extremely closed approach to the market so far. While Sony recently updated the PS5 to accept third-party Gen 4 SSDs that meet its requirements (and installing them is not as tricky as you might fear), the beast of Redmond designed the Xbox Series X/S to only accept proprietary drives expressly made for its consoles. This of course means there’s absolutely no pricing competition, so Microsoft and Seagate can charge what they like for the Xbox Series’ bespoke expansion cards.
This brings us to the frankly farcical situation, where a ~2TB upgrade to its paltry 364GB internal storage costs 33 percent more than the Xbox Series S in the first place. $300 for your console, $400 for the drive. Even adding the new 512GB option for $140 brings the price of the “cheaper” Series S to just 60 bucks shy of the price of the fully fledged Xbox Series X.
I note all this with only scorn for myself. I’m based in the UK, where for some odd reason the Series S has always been readily available directly from Microsoft, despite the worldwide shortages. I thought myself very wise for grabbing one for $300, not being particularly fussed about 4K. Then I promptly spent another $300 getting the 1TB expansion so I’d have room to install anything on it. Oops.
Clearly competition is desperately needed here, as is now finally happening on PS5. Right now you can pick up a Gen 4 2TB NVMe SSD for PC for as little as $240, almost half the price of the Xbox’s bespoke cards. And those prices are always coming down, while Microsoft’s are likely to stay fixed at those hefty round numbers for a good while to come.
The 512GB official Seagate expansion will go on sale in mid-November, while the 2TB version comes out in early December. Microsoft hasn’t given any more precise dates than that, so far.