This morning, initial hands-on previews of the Xbox Series X are making their way online, and the early impressions bring lots of promising claims about performance increases and faster load times. These leaps wouldn't be possible, of course, without the Series X packing some considerable silicon inside, and according to Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, Microsoft isn't planning on having the Series X and Series S stand as its last consoles.
Speaking with Yahoo Finance about the Series X, Spencer takes a moment to address the concern that Microsoft's embrace of a subscription model and debut of game streaming with Xbox Game Pass reflects an intention to shift away from console manufacturing in the near future. This, Spencer says plainly, isn't the case. Instead, the goal with Xbox is to keep pushing consumer hardware further alongside its streaming options:
If you're a Game Pass subscriber, you can now play your great games on our Xbox console, on your PC, or now on your Android phone via streaming[...] in terms of future hardware, absolutely I think we're going to see more console hardware down the road. Just like in video [and] just like in music, it's not like streaming has cut off device innovation—I think we'll continue to see that, and that's absolutely what we're planning for.
While it's undeniable that we're seeing a fairly hard shift away from physical media in the console space—this generation marks the first time Xbox and PlayStation are releasing discless options at launch—the streaming ecosystem envisioned by Microsoft's xCloud tech for Game Pass and competitors like Google Stadia and Amazon's new Luna service is still young. Depending on where you live, there's a good chance that high-quality game streaming isn't a viable alternative to console gaming, as many parts of the world (including areas here in the states) have insufficient access to the connection speeds required for a consistent, comfortable gaming experience.
The ways that major tech giants gate their platforms (Xbox included) are also holding back the dawn of an all-streaming, all-the-time gaming paradigm. Take, for instance, Apple's strict guidelines for bringing Xbox and Stadia game streaming to iOS, which have in turn led Microsoft to cry foul and throw its support behind Epic Games in its lawsuit against Apple. Large streaming services need to be available on lots of platforms in order to succeed. With multiple companies angling to have their streaming service come out on top, we'll likely hear more stories of this or that game streaming service not being available on certain phones, TVs, or other devices in the years to come.
So, with the launch of two new Xboxes just a few weeks away on November 10, Spencer and Microsoft are already planning for more hardware revisions to come. Place your bets now on what the next Xbox will be called and how close the naming scheme will be to Microsoft's past consoles.