Xbox Are Rumoured To Be Working On New Hardware. What Are They Hiding?
You might think that it's been some time since we've seen any large-scale innovation from Xbox - but that's only because it hasn't been on our shelves.
Xbox has been plugging away on their Game Pass, and have created a cloud-based solution for gamers everywhere that pretty much rivals mobile gaming alone. It's a whole new way to play - and now that they've spread their wings into the mobile market, there seems to be an all-new piece of kit on the horizon.
Rumour has it (according to XboxEra) that Xbox is currently working on a new piece of physical kit that can be expected at some point later this year - and though it's unverified, it's got us thinking. We haven't seen real physical gaming innovation since the Kinect (which is debatable in itself) - so what could be next? Here's what we reckon is coming from Microsoft in their new foray into the physical medium.
Xbox's First Handheld Console
There's every chance that in the wake of the announcement of the Steam Deck, and its monstrous popularity among PC players, Xbox have bucked their ideas up and taken their first plunge into handheld gaming. There's not much of a gap left now that Steam has basically made itself the hub of any game you like on the go, but given Xbox's love of mobile, they could attempt a go at the handheld market at a price point that far undercuts the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch alike.
If they were going a little less flashy, the handheld peripheral could simply be an official Xbox handheld controller to slot the player's phone into, with Xbox-style buttons and thumb sticks on either side - but regardless, Xbox could very easily tackle handheld gaming very nicely, especially when it comes to items that players can actually buy.
The Xbox Cloud Gaming Stick
There has been rumblings of Xbox taking cloud gaming taking cloud gaming to the next level, and this very easily could be it. The concept of putting the cloud systems onto a stick akin to an Amazon Fire Stick you can simply plug into whichever TV you like, giving you access to the Xbox Game Pass library so long as your internet can manage the heavy lifting (albeit at a reduced framerate and visual quality, presumably) seems immensely freeing - and if Xbox can manage it, they'd be daft not to.
Xbox so far has made its name as both the company with all of the other companies under its wing, and the champion of the casual gamer - and it can really, really milk the latter. If they give fans the opportunity to play the Xbox without even owning an Xbox, they'd be stepping into an unknown market and practically inventing a new one. Casual gamers have never had it better than with the Xbox Series S, and with a streaming stick, it could be better still.
Xbox VR… Kind Of
Okay, okay, we know - Phil Spencer has been very vocal about the fact that he's not sure about VR peripherals on Xbox. But, there's every chance he's had his head turned by the noise around the PSVR2, and fancies giving it a shot.
It likely wouldn't be anything heavy-duty in attempt to lock horns with Sony - instead, it'd probably just be something consumer-friendly that you can knock on as an extra peripheral to get players a little more into their games. Scrap the active games, and just give players a goofy visor to wear while sat on the sofa that gets them even closer to their favourite in-game worlds, and there could be some magic there.
Of course, we simply don't know what's in the pipeline from Microsoft - but there's every chance that whatever they're working on could be something special. The console wars might be retired for now, but that doesn't mean Xbox won't be making themselves look incredibly good over the course of the Xbox Series' lifecycle. And it may just get an extension with this new hardware foray.