The Xbox One X is no more. Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on its production to focus on the next generation of the brand known as the Xbox Series X. Some would chalk this up as an open shut case given that obvious motive. However, many have undoubtedly pondered and scrutinized this decision to eliminate what is still currently considered the most powerful and consumer-friendly Xbox to date.

The problem is Microsoft has provided only one excuse--their spokesperson told 'The Verge' it a "natural step" in preparing for the future. Truthfully, the Xbox One X still has enough grit to warrant further circulation on the market.

It also had a lot of time left on the market given it was only around for 3 years, making its discontinuation before its successor even enters the market seem very unusual. Therefore, it's unrealistic to think that the fateful decision that went occurred in the Xbox board meeting room came down solely on the preparation for next-gen.

So what else could have led to the demise of the console?

There are in fact many factors to consider here--some of which the company would probably divulge later in the future--but what is currently being speculated are very likely to have led to the Xbox One X console's discontinuation in 2020.

Xbox One X woes

The Xbox Series X is planned for launch in the upcoming Holiday season.

Until then, the Xbox One X remains the world's most powerful console. It strutting a compute performance of 6 teraflops --half of that of its successor. Like said successor, the idea behind the Xbox One X's power was to provide gamers with an unmitigated performance for this generation's standards that include 4K gaming. However, it seems, having more power doesn't always lead to more sales.

Almost seven years ago, the console didn't have the "X" at the end. it was simply known simply as the Xbox One, an all-rounded entertainment machine for gamers, streamers, and sports enthusiasts alike. And it almost flopped. When it was first revealed in May 2013 at an Xbox exclusive event, the crowd wasn't really taken back by what they were shown.

The Xbox One presentation was marred by a larger emphasis on sports entertainment, cable streaming, and Kinect.

Further down the road, it was also revealed that the console possessed some features that would prove anti-consumerist to the base that included DRM, persistent online functionality, region-locking, and mandatory Kinect bundling that raised the price above the usual $400 price point. Above all though, the Xbox One suffered from mitigated graphical performance; barely reaching 1080 p/60 fps in most titles at the time.

All of this made for an unappealing console compared to its Japanese competitor the PlayStation 4 from rival Sony. Of course, Microsoft had long repealed these features but the damage had already been done.

Through the rivalry, the PS4 was outperforming the Xbox One almost 2 to 1 in the market share.

Microsoft needed a win and fast. So the company decided to provide its consumers with an incremental upgraded version of the original console that would exceed its predecessor in graphical performance. Enter the Xbox One X, launched in 2017. Sony followed suit with its own incremental upgrade in the form of the PS4 Pro but it quickly became clear that the former was the most powerful. Sony's console peaks at 4.2 teraflops, putting behind Microsoft's bad boy. However, the large difference in graphical performance didn't help to close the gap in sales performance even by the slightest.

Currently, Microsoft's sales data estimates it sold just under 50 million Xbox One units total--almost half of that of its predecessor the Xbox 360 and even less than its competitor PS4 which sold well over 100 million units total.

Hence, the eighth console generation was not the one for Microsoft.

2020 was a rough year

If Xbox One X's lackluster performance throughout the past seven years hadn't convinced Microsoft it was time to drop it, then the fateful events of this current year may have been the straw that broke the camel's back. By January, it was abundantly clear to the world that something deadly was sweeping across nations and that was a Coronavirus outbreak.

The Covid-19 strain which started in China in November 2019 has already impacted 188 territories and caused well over 600,000 deaths. Entire industries including the gaming industry were undoubtedly devastated as the virus has forced the world to enact lockdowns and social distancing.

Thanks to this, several products and services were either delayed or shut down entirely. Weeks before the fateful announcement of the discontinuation, Microsoft was already dealing with shortages of Xbox One X units for months after the outbreak started. It's highly speculative on whether the company's current and future plans might have included the console but Covid-19 had undoubtedly put a damper on them.

An impending Xbox conundrum

Some might still argue at this point in the article that Xbox One X still has legs to stand on despite its woes. But they probably haven't considered this last and final detriment: the potential confusion the console could cause during the launch of the impending Xbox Series X.

Holidays are usually a battlefield for consumerism. Many will undoubtedly line up to capture their own box of the future but not every shopper would be in the know about which Xbox to claim during spending spree. A parent or grandparent who isn't tech-savvy could mistakingly purchase an XBOX, XBO, or even an XB360 instead of the current successor for their child waiting at home.

Microsoft knows this all too well and has already taken it into consideration going into the next generation. Those who owned their units should know by now that the company has already made the Xbox Series X backward compatible with their Video Games complete with free upgrades. That still might not go over well with them but it's ultimately the best way to get them to embrace the future that's already here.

Final thoughts

The Xbox One X is already dead at this point but its legacy lives on. The real takeaway from this, however, is that Its abrupt execution wasn't done without good reason. Although Microsoft took it way from gamers like a thief in the night, the company left something better behind for its loyal consumer base and those who have yet to experience the power of the "X."