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Microsoft, where's my 2TB Xbox One X?

These games aren't getting any smaller.
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Today at Gamescom Microsoft trotted out a bevy of new Xbox hardware/software bundles, as promised. There were eight (!) in total, with the One X getting the lion's share of them. Both the One S and One X bundles share a common theme: 1 terabyte of internal storage. First-party games optimized for the One X, meaning they feature 4K resolution and HDR video, are big, and several reach 100GB. That'a over 10 percent of available internal storage per. It doesn't take having too many of those before you have to start playing virtual Tetris with game downloads.

It's not like Microsoft hasn't done it before. It's just in the two years since the 2TB One S (below), the only other hardware with the same amount of storage were a special edition Gears of War 4 One S and Sea of Thieves Game Drive from Seagate. There have been countless other, smaller bundles since. Microsoft defended this stance last fall, saying its data shows people on average own 15 games at most across the lifespan of a console, and that 1TB was the right size for them.

When every big budget game costs $60, that might hold water. But throughout the presentation today Microsoft kept pushing Game Pass, its $10 per-month all-you-can-eat digital subscription service for Xbox games. Every Xbox exclusive will be available via Game Pass day and date with physical copies, which means more people will have more games on their hard drives at any given moment. In June, Microsoft said that people were playing "more games than ever before" in the year since Game Pass was launched.

The One X reserves 220GB for system data alone.

A 1TB hard drive doesn't translate to 1TB of storage space, though. The One X, for instance, reserves 220GB for system data alone. This fall's One X Forza Horizon 4 bundle comes with downloads for Horizon 4 and last year's Motorsport 7, both fully optimized for the more powerful hardware. The latter is just under 100GB. Comparatively, Horizon 3 from 2016 received a very post-launch One X update, adding HDR and native 4K resolution. The patch was around 700MB and total file size is just over 50GB.

This fall's Horizon 4 however boasts 60FPS visuals, a first in the sub-series' six-year history, full seasonal cycles and just more in general. It was the first to be developed with the One X in mind from the outset as well. If that's the case, it'll probably take up as much hard drive space as Motorsport 7. Between those two games and system software, just over half the storage is left. If you're a fan of Microsoft's other franchises like Halo and Gears of War the most recent games are each over 100GB thanks to One X enhancements. Quantum Break, another One X enhanced exclusive is 84GB.

Even standard AAA games without 4K embellishments have swollen to over 50GB each, without accounting for title updates and add-ons. The nasty side effect of games looking better is that they're getting bigger. It seems like Microsoft didn't account for that when it started pushing 4K to the masses with the One S.

Turn10 / Microsoft Studios

Microsoft isn't alone in this matter. Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro also caps out at a 1TB drive, but it's not nearly as limited. Unlike the Xbox One, you can swap out any PS4's hard drive and replace it with whatever size you'd like. The carryover feature from the PlayStation 3 days means that if you want to get crazy and put a 4TB solid state drive in, if you've got a grand to spare you totally can. The more sensible gamer could just drop $103 on the 2TB hard drive Microsoft included in the One S a few years back.

The Project Scorpio edition Xbox One X. Microsoft

Redmond's solution has been different, with the Xbox offering software features to tidy digital clutter and the aforementioned support for external storage. On an anecdotal note, a year in with my personal One X I have a dozen of the latest first-party and big budget games installed. I currently have 50GB free -- not enough for the next AAA release -- and none of the games have extraneous bits I can delete to free up space.

Last year, Microsoft spent a bulk of its time crowing that the One X was the most powerful Xbox ever made. The company leaned heavily on the brawny legacy of the original Xbox, which featured a seemingly bottomless 8GB hard drive. The limited Project Scorpio Edition pushed that line even further, with packaging reminiscent of the 17 year-old hardware. Aside from a graphic on the pack-in gamepad and a subtle gradient paint-job on the console itself though, there wasn't anything different where it counted.

Microsoft has been offering storage choices since the days of the Xbox 360. Given the ridiculously powerful GPU, custom vapor chamber and other high-tech accoutrements that come with the Xbox One X, not offering its hardest core gamers the chance to pony up $50 for a hard drive that can store more than a dozen games seems like a strange place to draw the line.

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