Report: Microsoft's Next Xbox "Scarlett" Could Include a Cheaper, Streaming-Only Console

Latency could be reduced thanks to cloud technology.

News by Matt Kim, .

We know Microsoft is working on a new Xbox console, though later documents suggested it would be a family of consoles. Further details suggested that it would be a console capable of streaming games directly to people's homes. A fresh round of leaks suggest that Microsoft is preparing two different Xbox machines, one more traditional, and a cheaper model dedicated to streaming games.

According to new details posted on Thurrott, Microsoft is planning a family of Xbox devices codenamed Scarlett. Now that family of devices appear to be two separate pieces of hardware. There will be a traditional next-gen console that's supposed to have local hardware and is suspected to be the sequel to the Xbox One.

Then there's a second device that acts as a streaming box designed to work with Microsoft's upcoming game streaming platform. The service is called Scarlett Cloud by one person and will be able to stream games directly to the hardware. The stream-only device is reportedly less-powerful with enough local computing power to handle controller inputs, image processing, and collision detection.

Xbox One X and Xbox One.

That computing power will apparently raise the price of the box, but it will be "significantly less" than the cost of what's expected of newer generation of consoles. No word yet on the hardware specs or price for either Microsoft video game consoles.

Streaming is apparently regarded as a new frontier for video games. Microsoft has spoken a bit about the topic as has Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot who suggested that the console generation after next will be completely dedicated to streaming games.

One of the main problems of course with streaming games, especially Triple-A games is problems with latency. According to the report Microsoft may reduce latency in "all aspects of the game" by "running" the game in two locations at the same time and using Microsoft's cloud tech to splice them together.

What's more if it works it could work on any device including PC. If Microsoft's many data centers can deliver this experience seamlessly, it could extend Microsoft's "Play Anywhere" video game strategy. Not to mention boost profit generating services like Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass.

The next-generation consoles are almost upon us. Sony has been talking up a three-year cycle until the PlayStation 5 while Microsoft is clearly okay with sharing information about its next-gen console. Developers like Rare are also expecting a smooth transition to next-gen development. But whether or not streaming will be the feature of the future remains to be seen. For a peek into the future check out our PS5 guide for rumors and details.

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Comments 7

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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #1 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 months ago
    Unless online infrastructure is improved considerably everywhere in the next few years, going all-streaming sounds like it would be a devastating blow to numbers, if not outright suicidal.

    So having a more traditional option alongside it sounds like a smart move, and definitely the way to go.
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  • Avatar for DrewQ #2 DrewQ 3 months ago
    Right? every time game-streaming comes around, there seems to be a magic way to do it.

    Games are larger than ever (2k-4k res) and how many servers are needed to run thousands of games simultaneously, that are then streamed to homes...

    I'm more curious than anything, but....then you have subscriptions and lack of games off-line.
    I see why Companies crave it though....if they can build the infrastructure, the cash-cow will milk itself.
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #3 WiIIyTheAntelope 3 months ago
    This thing will go great in my collection of bad idea machines right next to my Virtual Boy, Ouya, and PSP Go.
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  • Avatar for Fourfoldroot #4 Fourfoldroot 3 months ago
    Streaming? No thanks. A time when Internet goes down is not a time I want to be without a games console. Plus it will inevitably be more laggy, no matter what the notorious MS PR machine says. Plus it will require a subscription service I'm sure if it's to be economical, but I simply don't have time enough to get value from a subscription service (yes, those 500+ games on PS Now may seem good value for 99 a year, but only if you have time to play them!).
    I'm sure Ms and other publishers see this as an ideal way to gain total control and destroy the secondhand market, but unless it's cheap and significantly better than any streaming games service has ever been...not happening for me.
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  • Avatar for robertchesley19 #5 robertchesley19 3 months ago
    @Fourfoldroot I mean.. TBH.. how often does that actually happen? I've lived in Rural and Urban areas and I could say maybe in 14 years that I've had broadband internet that I paid with my own money maybe 10 or less total days that I've been completely without internet?

    However, I'm much more interested in a streaming console if it can really reduce latency. RetroArch already does the "run ahead" trick to reduce it for retro games so you actually play "more accurate than consoles" so if they can do this on a wide scale, you won't notice at all.

    I think it's cool.
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  • Avatar for BulkSlash #6 BulkSlash 3 months ago
    Reading between the lines, “running the game in two locations” and handling collision detection locally makes it sound to me like some of the game logic would run on the local streaming device so that the cloud portion just renders the updated image rather than having to handle the logic and then render the frame. How much latency that could actually save I don’t know!

    It could be quite complicated for developers too, they’d have to develop a separate customised version of their game engine that can run part of the game locally while handling the rest in the cloud. I could see developers not wanting to bother if the PS5 and regular Xbox Two sell like they have this generation.

    That said, who knows if this will actually happen? I remember leaks about the Xbox One suggesting there would be a budget console and that never happened. There were rumours the main console would have a separate ARM CPU for background downloads and processing too!
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  • Avatar for link6616 #7 link6616 3 months ago
    If it's really cheap, this could be a game changer, although I'm worried it won't get explained well.

    When we get the Xbox Two, 400 and the Xbox TwoS 99, will they be able to communicate the potential for the S to not live up to what it wants?

    That said, I think this is a great option in some markets. Playing Phantasy Star Online 2 Cloud in Japan is a good experience mostly, and Japan has fast and reliable enough internet, as do many other Asian territories like Korea. I could see Xbox getting a foothold in the market if they offered a streaming model that came with game pass or something similar for a low initial buy in.

    It's probably never going to be a great solution for a lot of big wide countries like America, Canada, Australia, but luckily other countries exsist!Edited July 2018 by link6616
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