We already knew Microsoft is hard at work on its Xbox One follow-up; head of Xbox Phil Spencer said as much at E3. As it turns out, his choice of wording — saying “consoles” — may not have been a curious slip of the tongue after all. According to a new report from Thurrott’s Brad Sams, Microsoft is developing both a traditional console and a dedicated streaming console.
Few details are out there about the traditional console, though Sams previously reported that it’s code-named Scarlett and has a 2020 release window.
As for the streaming console, Sams said a source told him it’s code-named Scarlett Cloud. The device will reportedly ship alongside the traditional console. The thought here is that next-gen Xbox games could be processed almost entirely through Microsoft’s servers, thus requiring minimal power from the actual device. The big problem with game streaming thus far has been reducing latency. Microsoft’s efforts toward building a streaming device capable of running intensive games have focused on that substantial hitch. Apparently, Microsoft has found a way to do it.
The device will still need additional hardware processing power, however, to handle aspects like controller input and collision detection. This means parts of each game will run on the device, but the brunt of the work will be handled by Microsoft’s cloud servers. This need will raise the price of Scarlett Cloud, but it will still be “significantly” cheaper than a traditional next-gen console.
Importantly, all games that run on the traditional console will be available on the streaming device, according to Sams.
Presumably, Microsoft would recoup that money through subscription services such as the already established Xbox Live and Xbox Gamepass. This is just speculation, but it seems like a possibility that Microsoft would revamp its subscription model for those who choose to go the streaming route. After all, you’ll have to pay for the games, but a subscription payment model makes sense since you won’t have access to the games offline.
The Verge reported that Microsoft is striving toward building data centers that can handle a next-gen streaming service. According to the Verge, Microsoft has code-named the streaming service “XCloud.”
Like the traditional console, the streaming box will reportedly launch in 2020. Obviously, even if Microsoft perfects a streaming service, consumers will still have to figure out if it’s right for them.
The main issue, besides internet speed, is data caps. If you have a data cap on your internet services, streaming games on a regular basis may not be a great option. Either way, it’s nice to have options.