Xbox Boss Phil Spencer: Streaming "Way Further Out" as Best Way to Play Games

Xbox Boss Phil Spencer: Streaming "Way Further Out" as Best Way to Play Games

Streaming might never overtake native gaming.

Under Phil Spencer Xbox introduced very interesting products like Xbox One X, Game Pass, and Backwards Compatibility. But in a recent interview Spencer addressed, indirectly, questions about one rumored Xbox product, the streaming-only Xbox successor.

In an interview with leveup.com at the X018 event in Mexico City Spencer was asked if in the future games will all be based in remote servers and streamed to screens. Spencer gave a surprisingly measured answer.

"No, there are certain scenarios where a streamed game is the best answer. On a console the best scenario is for you to download that game and play," Spencer says. "If you're on a PC that's capable of downloading and playing a game? Download and play that game."

Spencer says streaming a game is better in certain instance like if some gamers don't have access to a device that can run certain high-fidelity games, or instant start game trials Spencer calls "interesting." But Spencer says he thinks "for years and years the best way to go play a game on a console is to download that game and play it, and same thing on PC."

This is an interesting response considering the current rumors for the Xbox One successor involves a streaming-only console. Earlier this year reports of "Project Scarlett," the Xbox One's rumored successor, revealed that it could be a family of devices comprising one high-end traditional console, and a cheaper streaming-only console.

Other services like Google, EA, and even Nintendo are experimenting with cloud game streams. Google tested its first Chrome video game streaming service with Assassin's Creed Odyssey to pretty good results, while Nintendo lets Switch players in Japan stream intensive games like Odyssey and Resident Evil 7. EA also announced a new cloud venture to take advantage of streaming games to players. But Spencer says that the technology becoming mass-market is a way's away.

"Streaming is something that's further out in terms of it becoming really mass-market, everybody doing it and even way further out before it's the best way to play a game, if it ever is," Spencer says. "It's about giving you choice as a player not about replacing what you do." Spencer also says that Microsoft is "investing to make [native gaming] even better."

One of the main problems with streaming entire, Triple-A quality games is the internet quality in the rest of the world and even in the United States. Our recent chat with cowboys in rural areas about their time playing Red Dead Redemption 2 revealed there are parts of this country with difficult internet situations and it's hard to see video game streaming take over traditional native gaming while the internet is where it is.

Keep in mind Microsoft could still very well be working on a streaming-only console, and Microsoft's broader cloud business is one of the fastest-growing for the company. But where streaming fits in Xbox's gaming portfolio is still unclear.

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Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

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