Friday, September 22, 2023

Microsoft’s Xbox streaming console ‘Keystone’ was pushed back because of its price

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“It was more expensive than we wanted when we actually built it out with the hardware we had in it,” Spencer said, discussing the Keystone prototype device that recently appeared on his office shelves. “We decided to focus that team’s efforts on delivering the smart TV streaming app.”

Microsoft has instead provided an Xbox TV app in partnership with Samsung, but that doesn’t mean the idea for a streaming-only Xbox console is completely over. “With Keystone, we’re still focused on it and looking at when we can get the right cost,” Spencer reveals.

“We’re still focused on it and seeing when we can get the right cost.”

Microsoft wanted to aim for around $129 or $99 for this Xbox streaming device, Spencer says, hinting that bundling a controller with the streaming console, as well as Microsoft’s choice of silicon components, would bring the price closer to the $299 Xbox Series. S had brought.

The choice to bundle a controller aligns with what Microsoft traditionally does with its Xbox consoles and was also Google’s original approach to bringing its discontinued Stadia cloud gaming service to TVs. But a cloud gaming TV stick or puck can support any controller you have if the hardware supports Bluetooth, so it’s interesting that Microsoft specifically wanted to bundle an Xbox controller, which probably makes the user experience feel more seamless.

A prototype Xbox streaming device on a shelf

Keystone on top of Phil Spencer’s shelf.
Image: Phil Spencer (Twitter)

Indeed, Spencer says the Keystone prototype “looks like an Xbox with the UI and everything working.” Now the device just hangs on its shelf in the office. “The reason it’s on my shelf is because the team rolled up their sleeves and built that thing in nine months,” says Spencer. “Some of us took it home, and it worked. It worked very, very well.”

Now it looks like it will be quite some time before we see anything similar. “Will we ever do a streaming device? I suspect so, but I think it’s years away,” Spencer said in a recent Wall Street Journal live conference.

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