One of the Xbox Series X's best and most convenient features may be problematic. Like the PS5, the Xbox Series X prides itself on being fast. Whether this is loading games or booting up, Microsoft and Sony put a big emphasis on speed and seamless transitions this generation. And both achieved this. One example of this achievement on the Xbox Series X is the "instant-on" feature, which sucks up a lot of power. In fact, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, by the year 2025, and in the United States alone, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles will use 4 billion kWh, which is more or less what a large power plant uses over the course of a year.
In order to realize "instant on," the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S never fully shut off. They are sucking energy constantly. For the average user, this isn't an issue, because it's only going to cost them roughly $10 a year in energy costs, but if you add up all these users, well the end result is a lot of energy used to, at least partially, realize a completely unnecessary feature.
The aforementioned 4 billion kWh is based on a model that accounts for 30 million Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles sold by 2025. To calculate this number, the Natural Resources Defense Council looked at how much the Xbox One sold in its first five years in the United States. That said, it's reasonable to expect the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will outsell the Xbox One given that the latter stumbled tremendously out of the gate and was instantly crushed by the PS4. In other words, it's quite possible 4 billion kWh may be a light estimate.
That said, the figure does assume that 66 percent of users will use instant-on mode rather than the energy-saving mode. The Natural Resources Defense Council notes that there's nothing backing up this assumption, which means it could be substantially over or under the actual percentage.
Responding to this report, Microsoft notes it's committed to reducing its environmental impact with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, and that it's currently "evaluating additional methods" to highlight the benefits of choosing energy-saving mode to consumers.
"Users are given a choice during setup between the two power modes for the console: energy saving and instant on. To ensure players can select the option they prefer, they are not opted-in to either power mode by default. At Microsoft, we are committed to sustainability and, as we begin a new generation of gaming with Xbox Series X|S, we’re continuing to explore how we can reduce our environmental impact across the product life cycle - from conceptualization, design, production, and packaging, to what happens once our consoles are in the hands of consumers and at their end-of-life. As part of this commitment, we are evaluating additional methods to highlight the benefits of energy-saving mode, but have nothing further to share at this time."
H/T, Ars Technica.