Microsoft has explained what ultimately lead to the decision not to add an Optical Port to Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s first console to get rid of the Optical Port, which many relied on to get audio out of the console. The decision to not offer it as an option this time around is one Microsoft had to make for a number of reasons.
That’s according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who told IGN in an interview that it came down to price and space, but also player usage.
“I’m gonna use kind of weird terms, but the marginal cost of everything is important,” Spencer explained.
“So, if you look at a part on a console that’s maybe one or two dollars and you say, ‘Okay, how big of a deal is that inside of a console that’s a few hundred dollars?’ But then you say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna plan to sell, you know, 100 million of these consoles.'” “You take two bucks over 100 million now you’re $200 million over the life of the program.”
There’s also the space problem. Part of the reason why the Xbox Series X looks the way it does is because Microsoft had to make a lot of decisions when it comes to cooling and how to ultimately fit everything in a relatively small form factor.
“We had a conversation with the headset manufacturers – prior to all of this,” Spencer said. “We saw so much of the energy is going into so many of codecs on delivering [ audio ] – either through HDMI or USB, and we knew we had a plan there. So, there’s space considerations, no doubt,” said Spencer.
Finally, when Microsoft looked at the data of how many owners actually use the Optical Port, the decision was made to invest elsewhere.
“We also frankly know how many people use it today on the console. We kinda do the math of [having] to put a part in every console that X percent of people use, is there a better place for us to spend that money if we can support it in a different way?” he revealed.
As part of the same interview, Spencer said that he doesn’t expect the coronavirus pandemic to cause delays, so far at least. He also shared his feelings about where Xbox Series X stands following the PS5 reveal.