Based on new photos that have surfaced online, Microsoft may have once had plans to release an Xbox smartwatch in the past. First published by SuomiMobiili (via Eurogamer), the images show a possible prototype build while it was in development in 2013. Set for release in 2015, the smartwatch supposedly would have worked with Microsoft Surface tablets to charge with a magnetic connector.
Aside from these photos, there is no word on what games or apps would have run on the Xbox smartwatch. An educated guess would be some kind of health tie-in. Like other modern smartwatches, this prototype features what looks to be a heart-rate monitor on the base of the device.
With the Xbox logo, it seems clear that this would have been a gaming-orientated accessory. Other companies have released their own fitness-based tech, so perhaps Microsoft was looking for an alternative approach.
Whether or not this Xbox smartwatch turns out to be true is beside the point now. While it was still in development, Microsoft went down the fitness watch route with the Microsoft Band in 2014. With a vastly different design more akin to a Fitbit, the Microsoft Band still managed to underperform until the company canceled development of the leaked Band 3.
From Xbox’s standpoint, the decision to abandon a smartwatch and focus on the console appears to be the right one. Despite the PlayStation 4 continuing to pull away in console sales, the Xbox One has still performed better than the Xbox 360. Microsoft’s main focus is to produce the most powerful console on the market, a goal which it accomplished with the announcement of the Xbox One X. Last console generation, trends signaled a dying market next to the rise of mobile games. With the Xbox One X, Microsoft is breaking pre-order records for the brand.