MICROSOFT’S Xbox chief has shut down rumours that a cheap “streaming-only” console is on the way.
It follows widespread speculation that a new Xbox that streamed games over the internet – rather than playing them locally – was in the works.
Back in July, a Microsoft insider suggested that a £50 Xbox could be on the way.
It was tipped to use Microsoft’s upcoming xCloud technology, which beams games over the web.
This means that the console can be small and cheap, because it doesn’t need powerful and costly processors to render 4K game graphics.
But Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s gaming boss, has squashed any such rumours.
“We are not working on a streaming-only console right now,” Spencer told Gamespot.
“We are looking at the phone in your pocket as the destination for you to stream.
“And the console that we have allows you to play the games locally,” he added.
The good news is that hope for a cheap way to play Xbox games hasn’t faded.
Last week, The Sun reported on secret Microsoft designs for a handheld Xbox “console”.
Rough sketches for the device were made public in a patent filing – and were then mocked up into proper 3D concept pics by expert designers.
The result is a series of stunning renders depicting what a handheld Xbox could look like.
And it looks very similar to the Nintendo Switch, a chief Xbox rival.
Like the Switch, the handheld Xbox has detachable joypads that clip to the sides of the screen.
But the big difference is that the main body if the console is actually just a smartphone.
The idea would be that you purchase clip-on controllers from Xbox, and then load up a special app on your phone.
This app would be a version of Microsoft’s Project xCloud, a sci-fi gaming app currently being developed.
It will allow gamers to stream video games over the internet – rather than relying on a console to render the graphics itself.
This means powerful computers at Xbox HQ can process stunning console-level graphics, and then beam them down to your smartphone.
Such technology is only now possible thanks to high-speed internet, making it possible to deliver gaming graphics over the web.
This would allow your phone to display 4K gaming graphics, because Xbox would be generating them elsewhere.
“Based on patented designs, these conceptual Xbox Cloud controllers give us an idea of what the real thing would feel like,” said Sarang.
“Two controller-halves clip onto either side of the phone, turning it into a handheld gaming console, complete with everything you need to play Xbox’s signature titles.”
Video game streaming – how does it work?
We explain it all…
- When you watch a movie, the images you see are already prepared
- That’s why very unsophisticated computers inside your TV, DVD player, or computer can playback film footage
- But video games render the visuals in real-time, because a game never knows what you’ll do next
- That means you need much more computing heft to produce game visuals, compared to a standard movie
- So if you want amazing 4K PC-style graphics, you’ll need to fork out for an expensive computer
- Alternatively, you could use game streaming technology
- The idea is that a company like Google, Microsoft or Sony would handle the generation of the visuals on powerful computers at its own HQ
- Then it would send what’s effectively a video of that game to your smartphone
- You tap and play, and those commands get sent back to Microsoft or Sony, which then inputs them into the game, and sends you the visuals again
- Because modern internet connections are so fast, this all happens in milliseconds
- The resulting effect is 4K PC-style graphics on a smartphone – which is only possible because it’s not the phone itself rendering the graphics
- It also means that you could potentially be playing an Xbox or PlayStation game on your console, and then leave the house and carry on playing using your iPhone
- This sort of technology could eventually kill off gaming consoles for good, because all you’d need is a TV with game-streaming tech built in, and a controller to play with
- But game streaming hasn’t had any great successes thus far
- Sony bought a game-streaming called OnLive, but shut it down in 2015
- And Nvidia has its own game-streaming service, but laggy performance has prevented it from becoming a mainstream choice
- The next major service expected to launch is Google Stadia, which many are hopeful will be a success
But there’s bad news: these images are simply mock-ups by a designer, and aren’t official Microsoft shots.
Even worse, Microsoft’s designs are simply part of a patent, and might never be turned into a proper product.
Microsoft hasn’t announced any plans to build a handheld Xbox – so don’t get your hopes up.
In related news, Nintendo fans think they’ve unearthed a clue that proves the Switch Pro console exists.
Find out all of the latest PS5 release date rumours.
And we’ve also scoured the web for Xbox 2 news and rumours.
Are you going to buy the Xbox 2 or PS5? Let us know in the comments!
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