The ‘Xboy’ was the Xbox handheld that never was

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Mouseshadows/Flickr
During the days of the original Xbox, both Nintendo and Sony were battling it out in the mobile space, and it seems that Microsoft also considered jumping in. In an interview with IGN, Microsoft’s former Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach revealed that there was an “Xboy” project in development, but it was ultimately scrapped.

Unlike the recently found Nintendo PlayStation, the Xboy never left conceptual stages. There is no prototype tucked away in the desk of a Microsoft designer, just drawings. But there were serious considerations. The Xboy concept did pop up multiple times throughout the course of Bach’s work life at Microsoft. According to Bach, the Xbox console was more than enough for the company to deal with. “We just couldn’t focus” said Bach, “we just did not have the bandwidth.” Considering the smartphone revolution that was spreading across the industry, Microsoft’s decision to walk away from the project might’ve saved the company millions. “For us it was a focus issue and as it turned out strategically it was a smart decision, but that’s somewhat accidental” said Bach.

Bach felt that moving away from Xbox would have been foolhardy, and turns out he was right. His focus on the Xbox 360 proved to be monumentally successful, especially considering the Zune’s less than stellar reception, and of course, the rise of the smartphone.

The handheld gaming scene has seen a major dip in the past decade. What was once a massive market has been hit hard by the advent of smartphones. The PlayStation Vita is now considered a legacy platform, and Nintendo has dialed back the number of 3DS units it expects to ship, after realizing a dedicated gaming handheld device may not capture the market as it once did. That’s probably why many reports point to its next console, codenamed NX, to having some sort of built in handheld functionality. Still, it would’ve been fun to play Halo on the bus.

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