There is an Xbox Series X refresh on the way, along with a brand new Xbox Universal Controller. These details emerged following a massive Microsoft FTC leak – internal documents which were improperly redacted, and mistakenly released following a lengthy court battle with the FTC to get the Activision Blizzard deal finalized.
While that's certainly bad news for Microsoft Gaming, it has given us plenty of information to pour over. It's worth remembering that these internal documents, detailing the proposed mid-gen refresh of the Xbox console lineup, are dated May 2022 so these plans may have changed in the months since. Still, given the complexities of launching new hardware in a fluctuating market – rising inflation, and ongoing chip shortages – I think it's safe to assume that the broad strokes of this information remains on track.
Below you'll find everything that we know so far about the Xbox Series X refresh, codenamed Brooklin. There's also news on the specs of the digital-only console, and info on the new Xbox Universal Controller.
Xbox Series X refresh design
The Xbox Series X refresh design is a subtle change to the original system which launched back in 2020. Where the launch console is a rectangle monolith, the all-digital Xbox Series X appears to have a more cylindrical shape. In the leaked internal documents, Microsoft calls this a "beautiful and innovative new design" which takes full-advantage of the removal of a disk-drive. The conceptual images for the refreshed console show that the front of the console will come equipped with an Xbox power button, a pairing button for controllers and media devices, and a USB-C port. There's no indication just yet as to whether the Xbox Series X refresh will be substantially smaller or lighter than the original system.
Xbox Series X refresh price speculation
The leaked internal documents make a point of explaining that the Xbox Series X refresh price will be $499 – the "same great price" as the original Xbox Series X. While there's every chance that this could change as Microsoft contends with changing forces in the market, it's unclear what this says about the wider Xbox ecosystem. It could indicate that the launch XSX model will receive a price drop, or that Microsoft will position the two systems at the same price point and allow players to decide whether they want to continue accessing physical media.
Xbox Series X refresh release date rumor
When the internal presentation for the Xbox Series X refresh was put together by Microsoft last year, the platform holder expressed an interest in getting the console to market by November 2024. This release date for the all-digital Xbox Series X is yet to be confirmed, but it's expected that the news will come in June 2024 following some type of Xbox Gaming Beat aligned with E3 2024.
Xbox Series X refresh specs
The Xbox Series X refresh appears to have similar specs to the launch Xbox Series X, albeit with some key differences. I want to warn that this information is subject to change given its origin, however it does look likely that this all-digital Xbox Series X is a mid-generation refresh more in-line with the Xbox One S rather than the Xbox One X. Microsoft's internal documents say that the new system will "deliver 4K Gen-9 console gaming with more internal storage, faster wi-fi, reduced power, a more immersive controller, and a beautiful redesign that elevates the all-digital experience of the Xbox ecosystem."
It's expected that the new Xbox console will run video games at parity with the original Xbox Series X, although the refreshed system will include some updated technologies. The biggest are no doubt the introduction of Wi-Fi 6E support (allowing for reduced latency with a wireless connection), Bluetooth 5.2 (improved connectivity with external devices), 2TB of internal storage (up from the 1TB available in the launch XSX), and changes on the component-side to allow for a 15% reduction in the PSU power output.
There's no word yet on what connectivity ports are on the back of the console just yet, but there is an expectation that it will continue to support existing peripherals and the best Xbox Series X hard drives.
Xbox Series X refresh games
The Xbox Series X refresh is expected to play all of the best Xbox Series X games and the upcoming Xbox Series X games – so long as they are available digitally on the Xbox store. The refreshed console will be all-digital, meaning that it won't accept any physical media – Blu-Ray, DVD, or CDs. From what we know so far, Microsoft doesn't plan on releasing an external disk-drive add-on for the Xbox Series X refresh or the Xbox Series S, so if you want to continue investing in physical copies of games, you'll need to get the original version of the Xbox Series X.
Xbox Universal Controller
The Xbox Series X refresh will come packaged with a brand new accessory – the Xbox Universal Controller. Codenamed Sebile internally, this refreshed controller is set to offer new form and function over the peripheral available at launch. While the core ergonomics and layout isn't changing drastically, the Xbox Universal Controller will reportedly be equipped with support for Xbox Wireless 2, Bluetooth 5.2, and Direct-to-Cloud functionality to help improve your connectivity and reduce input latency no matter how or where you plan on playing.
The Xbox Universal Controller will also include a rechargeable and swappable battery as standard (the original Xbox Series X controller still necessitates batteries as standard), and it'll also come with some new design features. New modular thumbsticks are said to offer wide "build improvements" and "improved longevity", while other larger changes are on the way. There was no specific mention of Hall Effect Sensor sticks, like the ones found with the GameSir G7 SE, but this may be what more ”longevity” means. Microsoft says that the Xbox Universal Controller will include "precision haptic feedback", quieter buttons and thumbsticks, and, interestingly, both an accelerometer and "VCA haptics" which can "double as speakers."
The Xbox Universal Controller is expected to be available separately, with Microsoft's internal roadmap positioning the new controller with a May 2024 release window. Given that the leaked documentation is from back in May 2022, there is a chance that this may have changed, but it's good to know that this refreshed controller is on the near horizon – and will certainly be gunning for a position in our list of the best xbox Series X controllers.