While it’s known that the next Xbox or Xbox Two codenamed Scarlett will be a family of devices, some details have emerged on what kind of consoles they would be. According to insider Brad Sams on Thurrot.com, Microsoft is building a traditional console “that you would expect from the Xbox brand.” Which is an amusing way of framing it when you consider that the Xbox One despite multiple updates pretty much demands you to be online though Sams speculates that it’s for “those who prefer to have all their hardware locally”. This isn’t all, there will be a dedicated streaming console too which will work in sync with its upcoming game streaming service that’s currently being referred to as Scarlett Cloud.
While the specs on the first console are yet to be nailed down as its still early in development, the streaming box will be lower-powered featuring a limited amount of power for controller input, image processing, and collision detection. This suggests that more hardware would be needed locally resulting in a high price albeit not as much as what a new next-generation console would cost allowing for an expanded reach. This device is further ahead in development and like the first console is slated for a 2020 release date.
It would be interesting to see how this works out. Microsoft, like Sony and Nintendo doesn’t make much money on hardware sales. A bulk of revenue comes from game sales and in the case of Sony and Microsoft, subscription services. Having a lower cost console could allow for greater accessibility.
“The benefit here is that Microsoft’s cloud platform reaches around the globe with data centers in every major market. This makes streaming the games platform available globally but this also likely means that it can run on any type of device. Of course, Microsoft would love you to buy their hardware but the company’s end-goal is that you can access ‘Xbox’ from any device, anywhere and Scarlett Cloud is looking to deliver on this idea,” claims Sams. “One person familiar with Microsoft’s plans said that this may reduce latency in all aspects of the game as well. If a multiplayer game is using Azure as it’s central server, Scarlett Cloud console will be closer physically to the multiplayer server resulting in less latency.”
Furthermore, Sams states that all Xbox Scarlett games will work on all devices. Microsoft’s two-console approach suggests the company has greater faith in widespread Internet penetration and larger data caps than what exist at present. Considering the file sizes and the end of net neutrality in the US putting a cap on bandwidth, it will be interesting to see what the business environment will be like when these consoles are out in 2020 and what reception they receive.