Twenty years ago, When the first Xbox came out, it used the internet for small multiplayer games, each of which came on disc. Microsoft has built a huge business by selling consoles that can play games other than these discs. As the company looks to the next 20 years, it’s in the midst of an industry transitioning from games brought to you by a single device to mobile. Will definitely overtake Xboxes and cloud gaming are completely erasing physical platforms. An easy question to ask: Does Microsoft need to make consoles again?
It’s an enticing prospect. Supply chain shutdowns and a global chip shortage (both sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic) make the Xbox Series X/S hard to find without constant vigilance or overpaying dealers. Meanwhile, the Xbox Games app will launch on Samsung Smart TVs under its Game Center on June 30, allowing anyone with the right Bluetooth controller to stream Xbox games without a console.
But for Phil Spencer, who oversees Microsoft’s household-name gaming device, hardware remains key. For him, the shift to the cloud is about creating a hybrid approach that will allow Microsoft to expand its market beyond Xbox fans.He says edge In 2020, he doesn’t think the latest generation of consoles will be the company’s last to ship, and his stance on the matter hasn’t changed. “We’ve had two years of real constraints in the market,” Spencer told Wired. “It’s definitely a good thing for people to have more choice in how they play games, both for our business and for gamers.”
Cloud-based gaming via platforms like Google Stadia is not yet smoothest launch, but companies like Sony and Microsoft prefer to do the work. Sony just merged its cloud gaming service PlayStation Now with its more popular PlayStation Plus subscription. Microsoft has a name recognition feature that makes the service easy to identify among potential competitors.
Spencer also noted that while cloud gaming can attract new players, there will always be “people looking for a dedicated high-end device to play games at home with the highest fidelity.” For many of these players, that device is the Xbox, and even Won-Jin Lee, head of Samsung’s services business team, agrees: “Hardcore gamers always play on consoles.”
The Xbox app will be available on Samsung TVs first, but not limited to. The company said it is exploring other partnerships. Likewise, Samsung won’t end with the Xbox. The idea, Lee said, is not to build their ecosystem around the Xbox, but to partner with it and the companies that love it. “Partnering with Xbox really gives us the foundation on how to build this service and how to move forward,” Lee said. “From the beginning, our philosophy has been to provide a very open discovery experience.”
In lieu of E3, Microsoft is gearing up to show off upcoming games at its June 12 streaming event. Spencer pointed to the company’s library of games and its recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard as priorities for the company going forward.
In fact, both hardware and cloud gaming are big sellers of video games. Without a strong lineup to attract players, it doesn’t matter how many TVs the Xbox will surpass if no one wants to play.