I’ve made no secret that I’ve not been particularly fond of the Xbox brand this gen. Xbox, this gen, has been very awkward and confusing. In fact, it’s really only recently that Microsoft has managed to find its footing, thanks largely to Phil Spencer. Spencer took on his role as head of Xbox at a very bleak time. His predecessor did very little to engage with the fans or even acknowledge much of their feedback, which only resulted in the laughable launch of Xbox One, a launch that I personally hope will haunt Microsoft for years to come.
Since then, Spencer has made some pretty bold and daring moves. We’ve seen the closing of studios, the cancellation of games and the end of support for the Kinect. This, collectively, only led to more negative speculation and confusing regarding the future of Xbox, but Spencer clearly has an end goal firmly in his sights. You see, despite the downsides, Spencer has also taken some excellent steps too; backwards compatibility, Xbox game pass, Xbox One X and more recently, the acquisition of five brand new Microsoft Studio additions.
These additions include; Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games, Playground Games, Undead Labs and the newly opened studio, The Initiative. It’s unclear what games these studios will inevitably bring to the table outside of the bits that they’re already working on, but with Microsoft’s deep pockets at their collective disposal and their vastly proven talent, I think it’s safe to expect nothing but outstanding work. However, even with that in mind, I think it’s equally safe to assume that we wont be seeing anything new from them until next gen.
Spencer announced that the team behind the Xbox One X are already deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles. The use of the plural with the word “consoles” is interesting as it suggests that we can probably expect the same format that we’ve seen this gen; Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X, though for now, that’s purely speculation. Spencer also revealed that the company is still very much focused on AI and Cloud technologies, going so far to say that at some point, fans will enjoy console-quality games on any device.
Microsoft is still very committed to selling you a console box that sits by your television, but their overall vision is much larger than just that. It’s a very wise move and something Spencer says will play a large role alongside the next Xbox, but details are understandably thin on the ground right now. No doubt we’ll learn more in due course. Though, let me reiterate, those of you that may be worried that traditional gaming is going out the window, worry not. The goal here is to bring more gamers into the fold under one big ecosystem.
Think Minecraft or Fortnite, but on a much larger scale. This ideology, if truly realized, will remove the barriers that many developers face when it comes to the costs of development vs the return they’ll get for their invested time and expense. Simply put, Spencer wants content developers to reach the two billion people that play games. It’s a very bold statement to make, but at least Microsoft are the ones making it. Devices, after all, are becoming more competent and more powerful by the day, so why not try and tap into that?
Why not try and bring that under one big ecosystem so that everyone can game in unity and quality, regardless of their chosen device? Exactly. Cross-play was clearly the first step on the ladder towards this goal, but again, it’s very early days so we’ll have to see how this pans out. Whatever the case, Microsoft is certainly paving the way to a better future for Xbox. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is another prime example as to how open and accessible Xbox is aiming to be. Spencer may have started in deep water, but he’s taken the brand from strength to strength since filling those boots.
From the bits and pieces that we’ve picked up on so far, the next Xbox will be big on streaming, will more than likely be backward compatible out of the box, will offer a range of different options regarding framerate and resolution and will no doubt be fighting for the power-brag alongside the PlayStation 5. Throw in the fact that these five new studios (in addition to the current studios under Microsoft Studios’ umbrella) will have had years of development time to create new and interesting experiences, and there’s a lot to be excited about.
I wont get ahead of myself because if anything, Microsoft talk a good talk but have proven this gen that they cannot always meet that talk with the proverbial walk, however, I would lying if I didn’t say that I predict great things from the brand when we transition into the next gen of hardware. Spencer is taking steps in all of the right directions, though, I wouldn’t expect any major changes for at least a few years. How do you feel about Xbox right now? Do you agree the future is bright? Or are you not too convinced? Hit the comments below.