Soon you won’t need Xbox anymore

For better or for worse, the gaming industry is slowly but surely moving towards ubiquitous streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Practical game streaming seems limited only by acceptable internet speeds at this point, and we seem fully focused on a future where the outdated idea of ​​boxed console hardware is a thing of the past.

In recent years, Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming have both ushered in a new on-demand era of game subscriptions, changing the traditional ways we access and play them. Despite its lack of library and near-universal poor reception, Stadia also showed consumers what was possible and where gaming was headed.

PlayStation is now also moving incrementally in the same direction, as Sony is currently in the process of completely revamping PS Plus to be much more like Game Pass. PlayStation Now, Sony’s older game streaming service, will be merged into PlayStation Plus Premium to allow gamers to stream PS3 and PS4 titles.

Even Nintendo, with its Switch Online membership program, offers downloadable content such as SNES and N64 titles, although there is no streaming on the platform as of yet. Nintendo has always left the competition in the online space behind, so if Switch streaming is in the works, I’m sure it’s still a long way off.

Yet all these developments, plus the release of a recent interesting Windows Central exclusive, point to a fundamental evolution that is actively taking place: one day, possibly soon, you won’t need an Xbox anymore, or maybe even a PlayStation or Switch, whatever that. Re.

Games will be streamed from the cloud, and the revolution is likely to take place in the fashion that digital game storefronts make their way into people’s everyday gaming habits, sneaky download at a time, eliminating the need for physical games, little by little. . Now it will be one current at the same time.

According to the aforementioned Windows Central article, a long-rumored HDMI streaming dongle with the aim of “lowering the boundaries of Xbox content via cheap hardware” was pretty much confirmed by Microsoft.

The supposed TV/monitor plug-in device, currently shrouded in mystery and known simply as Keystone, is unlikely to feature internal storage or dedicated graphics processing power. A barebones operating system that can connect to Xbox Cloud Gaming may be its only electronic inhabitant.

For reference, here’s the full statement from the Microsoft representative:

“Our vision for Xbox Cloud Gaming is unwavering, our goal is to empower people to play the games they want, on the devices they want, wherever they want. As announced last year, we’ve been working on a game streaming device, codenamed Keystone, that plugs into any TV or monitor without the need for a console.

“As part of every engineering journey, we are constantly evaluating our efforts, evaluating our lessons and making sure we add value to our customers. We have made the decision to deviate from the current iteration of the Keystone device. We will refocusing our learning and efforts on a new approach that will enable us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future.”

Windows Central is quick to point out that the Keystone project probably won’t hit store shelves for the next few months or even next year, but frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if we see anything announced by the end of 2022.

The ease and usability of launching a Chromecast-style Xbox dongle feels like a no-brainer for Microsoft, as Xbox Cloud Gaming already works extremely well on PCs and smartphones. Plus, there’s a lot to be gained from eliminating the tedious and expensive barrier to entry that comes with not only finding, but ultimately buying, an elusive $500 Xbox Series X.

Fast internet access remains a challenge for much of the world, especially in rural areas, and you need enough data performance to get the most out of something like Stadia or Xbox Cloud Gaming.

On a shocking note, about a quarter of a million people still use a dial-up connection, while about 22.5% of American households don’t even have internet at home. Obviously, Microsoft isn’t targeting this demographic, and physical media and native hardware will remain absolutely essential for those consumers, perhaps indefinitely.

But for those gamers lucky enough to have fast broadband internet and haven’t jumped on the Xbox console train yet due to cost or availability, the Keystone in development could provide a (hypothetically) much cheaper option for Game Pass fun.

Hopefully we’ll hear more about a possible price and release date soon. However, Microsoft needs to finish the damn thing first.

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