Oh you! Phil Spencer teases a new Xbox in plain sight. Is this the Keystone game streaming device?
Phil Spencer, Microsoft's affable head of Xbox, is seemingly back up to his old tricks of strategically placing things of interest on his office shelf to catch the eyes of internet sleuths — however, the latest find is something quite significant: potential new Xbox hardware.
It's no secret that Microsoft has broad plans for Xbox and Games Pass beyond just traditional gaming hardware — they've got fresh partnerships with TV manufacturers, and other third parties (such as the recent collaboration with Logitech) to bring the Xbox experience, via their Cloud Gaming service, to as wide an audience as possible.
The message is a clear one: If you have a Games Pass subscription, Microsoft isn't all too bothered about where you play. As such, they want their evolving Cloud Gaming offering to be as widely available as possible.
One way to do that is cheaper hardware. Microsoft already offers the less capable Series S alongside their flagship Series X, but it seems that another streaming-only option will at some point join that line-up to offer a real: good, better, best option for consumers picking an Xbox.
Now, this third device has been long-rumoured and the project, said to go via the codename 'Keystone', was essentially all but confirmed by Microsoft last summer. The pitch is for a streaming-only device that offers a cheaper way to get a Game Pass-capable device directly from Microsoft in your living room.
Yes, Microsoft's strategy includes offering third-party streaming options, but it seems that Keystone is their official implementation of such a vision.
So, back to Phil's tweet. It was an innocent enough Twitter update about Vault Boy and Fallout, but those eagle-eyed followers spotted an unfamiliar white box sitting atop of Phil's top shelf.
The official Xbox Twitter account was quick to reply, with an amusing retort:
A report via The Verge's Tom Warren confidently states that the "head of Xbox has future hardware on his shelf". Whether a prototype or real hardware, it offers up some insight into what Microsoft has on the way.
This Xbox streaming device will make for an interesting addition to the console line-up, with the hope being that it opens up the Game Pass experience to a whole new audience — if your broadband is good enough of course.