Is Xbox’s new hardware a dongle like the Google Chromecast? (pic: Google)
A new rumour suggests that Microsoft is planning to release new Xbox hardware this year although it may be a streaming stick, not a console.
Before the Xbox Series X and S were formally announced Xbox boss Phil Spencer repeatedly implied that the new generation would involve multiple different consoles – more than just the two that have been released so far.
Rumours of an Xbox Series V and others were commonplace around the launch of the Xbox Series X/S but not more recently, after the full impact of the semiconductor shortage became apparent.
However, XboxEra co-founder and co-host Nick ‘Shpeshal’ Baker has stated that there will be a new hardware release this year and that he knows what it is, although it apparently ‘falls into a different bucket than people are probably expecting’.
Baker has proven reliable in the past, but his comments are vague enough that it’s difficult to know what exactly he’s getting at.
Phil Spencer certainly seemed to suggest that more than two consoles were originally planned – the Xbox Series terminology alone implies it – but those plans are likely to have changed, or been abandoned completely, as a result of the pandemic.
If Baker is implying it’s not a console the most likely explanation is that it’s something to do with streaming, which is certainly a priority for Microsoft.
Some kind of stick or dongle, to plug into a TV in order to use cloud gaming, does seem very likely at some point, and could be what the rumour is referring to.
Microsoft has even admitted they’re working on such a device, which would not require much effort and is likely only being held back until the cloud gaming service is deemed ready for mainstream users.
Naturally, some fans are more interested in wilder rumours, such as a handheld console similar to Steam Deck or a VR headset, but Microsoft has never shown any interest in either, and has been dismissive of the concepts whenever asked about them.
That doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind but the safe bet here, if the rumour is accurate, is that there will be an increasing focus on cloud gaming in the future, with an emphasis on the fact that you don’t need a console to play Xbox games.
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