During their E3 2018 press conference, Microsoft had said that they are indeed working on a new Xbox console and also figuring out their Cloud Gaming Platform. One would have expected to see a new console in the next few years, with the cloud service coming in much later once the infrastructure was in place.
As it turns out, Microsoft seems to have a very different plan altogether.
Brad Sams, who has been accurate in his previous coverage of inside information about Microsoft and what they are working on, has now reported that Microsoft plans to release not one, but two consoles. One of them will be a traditional console as we all are familiar with. The second will be a less-powerful cloud gaming device that makes use of streaming to play games. The unofficial code name for now is Scarlett.
As he says in his full report:
First, Microsoft is building a traditional console that you would expect from the Xbox brand. I think it’s important to point this out so that those who prefer to have all their hardware locally, will have an option with the next generation Xbox.
As for specs for this device, that’s still not known at this time as it’s the early days of development for that piece of hardware. But what I am starting to hear more about is the second device, a streaming box that is designed to work with the company’s upcoming game streaming platform.
Scarlett Cloud as one person called it, is the game streaming service that we have all been envisioning ever since Microsoft showed off a demo game streaming at its all-employee meeting back in 2013. But this time, Microsoft has a path to bring it to market.
The second ‘console’ that the company is working on is a lower-powered device that is currently planned to ship with the next generation device that is designed for game-streaming. But the catch here is that Microsoft thinks it has figured out how to handle the latency sensitive aspects of gaming.
The cloud console will have a limited amount of compute locally for specific tasks like controller input, image processing, and importantly, collision detection. The downside of this is that it since more hardware is needed locally, it will raise the price of the streaming box but it will still cost significantly less than what we are accustomed to paying for a new-generation console which should help expand the platform’s reach.
While it is a bit surprising to see them moving this fast with their cloud services, Microsoft has been building that service for many years now. It does give me confidence in seeing them still building a traditional console – internet speeds and latency is still spotty in many countries, and it’s always more reliable to have a device that can work offline. However, I am eager to see what the cloud service can offer.