Everything we know about the future of Xbox, from a disc-less console to next-gen hardware

343 Industries/Microsoft‘Halo Infinite,’ seen in target art above, could be on new Xbox hardware.
  • Microsoft is widely expected to further detail its next Xbox consoles this year.
  • Many are expecting details in June, at the company’s annual Xbox press conference in Los Angeles.
  • Between a steady supply of credible rumours and Microsoft’s own statements, we already know a lot about the future of Xbox.

The next Xbox consoles were officially announced in 2018. Maybe you missed it?

“The same team that delivered unprecedented performance with Xbox One X is deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer said during Microsoft’s annual E3 press briefing in June 2018.

This year, at the same event, Microsoft is expected to go into details about the next Xbox consoles. Months ahead of time, the rumour mill has begun churning and we’ve got a few good ideas of what to expect from the not-so-distant future of Xbox:

1. Before new consoles, we’re likely to see a disc-less Xbox One console.

Florence Fu/Tech Insider

The Xbox One isn’t done just yet – the latest rumour is that Microsoft will reveal and release a disc-less Xbox One S console in the coming months. That’s according to reporting by Windows Central and Thurrott.

The so-called “Xbox One S All-Digital Edition” is said to go up for pre-order in April, with systems arriving in May.

In short, it’s said to be a less expensive Xbox One S console with no disc drive.

More importantly, it’s a hint at the future of the Xbox – a future where players either download games or stream them rather than buying discs in stores.

2. Not one new Xbox, but multiple!

MicrosoftThe Xbox One X, left, and Xbox One S.

Microsoft has at least two Xbox consoles in the works.

Xbox leader Phil Spencer outright announced as much in June 2018. “The same team that delivered unprecedented performance with Xbox One X is deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” he said on stage in Los Angeles on June 10, “where we will once again deliver on our commitment to set the benchmark for console gaming.

Rumours point to Microsoft creating two new consoles that coexist within the same generation: a smaller, less expensive Xbox potentially focused on streaming video games, and a larger, more traditional, more expensive Xbox that could power games locally (or stream them).

A Windows Central report says these consoles are codenamed “Lockhart” and “Anaconda,” respectively.

It’s not hard to imagine Microsoft offering two versions of the next Xbox, one with a lower price point that specialises in streaming and one with a higher price point that’s more powerful.

Also, there’s a precedent: The Xbox One S and Xbox One X are both Xbox One consoles, yet the Xbox One X is more powerful (and more expensive).

It stands to reason that Microsoft will continue this strategy with the next version of the Xbox, and it makes sense – just like Apple has multiple versions of the iPhone, so too does Microsoft have different versions of the Xbox.

3. A big push into Netflix-style video game streaming.

MicrosoftA recent demonstration of Project xCloud on Microsoft’s ‘Inside Xbox’ broadcast.

Just as Netflix allows you to watch movies and TV shows from any device, a streaming gaming service would let you play high-end, blockbuster video games anytime, any place and on any device – your phone, or tablet, or laptop, or TV, no game console required.

With “Project xCloud,” Microsoft aims to do just that.

“There are 2 billion people who play video games on the planet today. We’re not going to sell 2 billion consoles,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer told Business Insider in an interview in June 2018. “Many of those people don’t own a television; many have never owned a PC. For many people on the planet, the phone is their compute device,” he said. “It’s really about reaching a customer wherever they are, on the devices that they have.”

The best way to do that is by lowering the barrier to entry – stuff like owning a TV, not to mention owning a game console and having a stable internet connection, are barriers to entry for the potential userbase Microsoft is targeting with its streaming initiative.

4. A bunch of new games are in the works.

MicrosoftPhil Spencer on stage at Microsoft’s E3 2018 press briefing.

If there’s one thing Microsoft is lacking, it’s major first-party game franchises.

With the exceptions of “Minecraft,” “Halo,” and “Forza,” the portfolio of hit franchises owned by Microsoft is slim. And even if such franchises existed, Microsoft owns only so many studios capable of producing blockbuster games.

That’s why Microsoft bought five game studios.

“We know that we want to create new franchises,” Spencer told Business Insider in June. “We really thought we needed five or six new teams and products that we really believed in.”

Spencer announced the quintet of studio purchases on stage in June as part of the company’s presentation outlining the future of Xbox.

“We are committed to building an industry-leading first-party studios organisation,” Spencer said on stage. “And we are making one of our greatest single-year investments in teams by adding five new creative studios.”

Why not buy one big publisher, like EA or Activision, with a bunch of major game franchises? It’s complicated, but here’s Spencer’s answer: “I couldn’t find a collection out there in one entity to do it.”

Later in 2018, Microsoft announced the acquisition of two more studios: Obsidian Entertainment and Inxile Entertainment. That brings the grand total up to seven new studios under Microsoft’s gaming umbrella.

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