The next generation of Xbox consoles might not actually play the games themselves. According to Thurott.com and The Verge, Microsoft is planning a two-part console for its next generation. One of these consoles will be for local hardware, the other will be an online-only device that streams games from the cloud.
Thurott’s source calls the online-only device the “Scarlett Cloud,” The Verge says it is being built under the codename “XCloud.” Regardless of the name, the device will be intended to compliment the streaming platform that Microsoft is building that will work across Xboxes, PCs, and phones.
While there are no specs available yet, even a console built exclusively for streaming will require some local hardware. The device will have to recognize controller inputs, for instance. But there’s a priority within the company on keeping the local hardware needed for the streaming console at an absolute minimum to keep prices down.
The challenges involved with the project concern the same problem streaming has always had: Keeping up with demand. The Verge reports that the company is “all hands” on creating data centres that can hope to meet what will surely be the staggering demands on the global console. Lag issues would be the kiss of death for such a device.
Microsoft is reportedly planning for the dual-console release in 2020, so there’s still some time to figure out the details. But given the tremendous success of games like Fortnite has companies looking to make streaming a priority. The plans for the new pair of consoles bear a considerable resemblance to the early pitch for the Xbox One which, until changed in the face of consumer blowback, would have prioritized online-only features at the expense of support for things like used games. Perhaps with the rise of streaming and Netflix-style services like the Xbox Game Pass, that tactic will fly.