As we head into the next console generation with the PS5 and the Xbox Series X, Sony and Microsoft have focussed their attention on very different things.
Sony's consoles are all about the hardware, with the same specs across the PS5 standard and Digital Edition. Meanwhile, Microsoft is looking to diversify, with two different hardware options at different price points, and a focus on its Xbox Game Pass, and xCloud services.
In a bid to break down the barrier to gaming, the next step could see the company add a streaming stick to its line up, so fans don't need to shell out on pricey hardware.
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In an interview with Stratechery (via The Verge) Xbox boss Phil Spencer delved into the possibility of a streaming stick that plugs into your TV, allowing you to access the huge library of Xbox games – all you'd need is a controller.
Spencer touched on the idea of additional tiers of Xbox Game Pass, with a hypothetical option that comes in at a higher price and includes a TV stick that allows people to play xCloud games without a console.
This would make playing games with Xbox even more affordable, as Spencer explains:
“You could imagine us even having something that we just included in the Game Pass subscription that gave you an ability to stream xCloud games to your television and buying the controller.”
It’s a fascinating concept and one that could change the way Microsoft approaches consoles going forwards. If you can have access to a huge library of games with just a subscription and a controller, then you wouldn’t need a console – as long as xCloud performs well enough.
An Xbox streaming stick would make gaming even more accessible, which is something that Microsoft seems to be interested in given the lower-priced, all digital Xbox Series S, and the Xbox All Access payment program for the next-gen hardware.
It’s unlikely that Microsoft will move away from consoles anytime soon, but it could well be a possibility for the company as it continues to develop these subscription-based models.
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On the other end of things, Spencer also discussed “Xbox Game Pass Premium”, which would include guaranteed access to new Xbox Hardware.
Presumably, this would be a longer-term subscription than Xbox All Access and give subscribers the ability to upgrade their hardware whenever a new console comes out, similar to the contract smartphone model.
This would fit especially well if the upcoming console generation gets a mid-gen upgrade in the same way that the Xbox One was followed by the more powerful Xbox One X.
The Xbox steaming stick concept could be closer than we think; The Verge reminds us of the Xbox TV streaming device Microsoft had in the works, but ultimately cancelled in 2016. Dubbed Project Hobart, it's possible we may see a more refined version rear its head in the not too distant future.
Source: The Verge