How to Tell if You're Buying the New Xbox

Even experienced gamers have to agree: Microsoft’s naming conventions for its Xbox gaming consoles are terrible. I guess they sort of make sense if you’ve been playing the same consoles for years. But if you don’t know much about gaming at all—parents, that includes you—then I implore you. Do not buy the wrong Xbox for yourself or a gift recipient.

Blame Microsoft. Because the pre-orders process for all the upcoming flagship gaming consoles has been terrible, there have been a number of people who have erroneously purchased this generation’s Xbox, not the new Xbox, because they saw it was in stock and didn’t do their research.

To help you out, here is a quick guide.

The last-generation Xbox that you don’t want to buy right now

Name: Xbox One X

Launch date: November, 2017

What it looks like:

How much it costs: $400-600, depending on where you can find it (since it’s discontinued)

Why you should buy this: You shouldn’t. It’s a discontinued, last-gen console. Please do not waste a dollar on an Xbox One X. If you bought one foolishly, or you’re not sure you bought one, you might want to check. Here’s hoping your retailer’s return policy is generous.

The last-generation Xbox that you don’t want to buy right now (part two)

Name: Xbox One S

Launch date: August, 2016

What it looks like:

How much it costs: $250-300, depending on whether you bought the “can read discs” edition or the all-digital edition.

Why you should buy this: You shouldn’t. It’s older than the Xbox One X. You know better, but just in case you made an oopsie, you should absolutely return this and pretend like your errant purchase never happened. 

The newest Microsoft consoles you should buy (that nobody can seem to pre-order)

Names: Xbox Series S; Xbox Series X

Launch date: November, 2020

What they look like: 

How much it costs: $300 for the Xbox Series S; $500 for the Xbox Series X

Why you should buy these: Because you shouldn’t pay nearly the same prices for hardware that’s three-plus years old (obviously). These are Microsoft’s latest gaming consoles that are currently very difficult to pre-order. So, well, odds are good you won’t be buying anything right now, but that’s how you’ll know you’re making the right move.

If you come across a stash of “Xboxes” for sale, or you even try to go the eBay scalper route, make triple-sure you’re purchasing the correct console. Check pictures. Check the name. Check specs. Do not purchase anything with the word “One” in the title. “Series” is what you’ll want to care about.

Confusing? For gamers, not really; for parents, you betcha. Perhaps that’s why there has been such a wild upswing in Xbox One purchases lately. Don’t be those people. Don’t buy the wrong Xbox.

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