A recent report indicates that Microsoft is working on not one but two new consoles for a 2020 launch, and one of them will be a full-on streaming device.
Interestingly, Scarlett is actually two different pieces of hardware: a traditional console and a streaming device that is “designed to work with the company’s upcoming game streaming platform,” referred to as Scarlett Cloud internally.
The report didn’t include specific details about hardware specs for either console, though the streaming device is “lower-powered” compared to the more traditional console.
Generally, the main issue with streaming games is latency, and basing half a console launch on unproven tech and a historically poorer gaming experience seems like a major risk on Xbox’s part. However, Microsoft is working through these issues by including hardware with the device dedicated to locally computing controller input and collision detection. This will raise the price of the device compared to similar streaming boxes, but it will hopefully make the gameplay experience a little more digestible for players, especially in a competitive setting.
This is something that Xbox boss Phil Spencer hinted at during Microsoft’s E3 2018 press conference, when he revealed that the team behind the Xbox One X was “deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles” and that Microsoft’s “cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device.” Though Spencer hinted that streaming games wouldn’t “require a console,” it sounds like Microsoft smartly plans to cash in that technology by offering consumers an alternative hardware to the next traditional Xbox.
Finally, both consoles will launch in 2020, according to the Thurott report. Depending on when both devices are launching in 2020, we could see an official announcement and reveal as early as E3 2019.
Thurrott writer Brad Sams, who broke the story, uploaded a video with a deeper dive into the details mentioned above, such as the fact that prices mentioned for the streaming device have ranged from less than $100 to $125—a much cheaper alternative than a new $399 console for players with high-bandwidth connections. Of course, that doesn’t include the inevitable subscription fee one will have to pay to access Scarlett Cloud, but it definitely represents a lower bar for entry for some players, creating the potential for a successful console launch.