In a digital era where dedicated consoles are losing ground and customers to mobile devices, and where gaming companies are determined to provide an all-encompassing online experience via the box beneath your television, it’s little wonder that fans are concerned about the future of dedicated gaming hardware. For every mention of a PS4 or Xbox One, you can throw in the tantalizing temptation of Netflix, Amazon, and various other online streaming services. A games console, these days, isn’t purely for gaming, and it seems the fans are getting to the point of frustration. Nintendo did it, but will other companies follow suit?
Well, according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, the future of dedicated gaming isn’t dead in the water yet. Speaking to The Verge, Spencer laid out his plans for the future of Xbox and revealed that he is already thinking of the Xbox One’s successor.
“I fully expect that you’ll see another console from us. Our best customers are Xbox console customers, and I want to keep those people engaged both on the Xbox One and anything we might do in the future. I’m 100 percent committed to that. I don’t want to dilute what the Xbox console customer feels. I want to expand what we’re able to do for more customers.”
Microsoft aren’t giving up on Xbox just yet, despite their controversial reveal, release and hesitant features back-peddling when the console was launched in 2013. Fans were outraged and disgusted when the console made its much-anticipated bow, and a swift bit of damage control allowed Microsoft to provide the console people wanted, even if it was a little late. Sure, Xbox One was an improvement on everything fans admired about the Xbox 360 — new hardware, a more powerful Kinect and the ability to utilise the cloud, to save on storage and hard drive space. However, the lack of backwards compatibility (which will be rolled out in the coming weeks) and the inability to trade games with either your friends or stores — a PR gaffe that was mocked by rivals Sony, as revealed by Digital Spy— annoyed millions of customers. Luckily, they saw the error of such an important aspect of gaming, and acquiesced to the fans in due course.
Xbox One is now one of the top two consoles in the world, despite a few added extras that don’t typically belong in a gaming machine. Their mission is a simple one though: Win back the gamers, at any cost. The success of the console is such that Microsoft are trying — in vain or successfully, you decide — to convert PC and Windows gamers to the Xbox One, to make up the deficit. But does Microsoft need another Xbox? Can’t they just utilize and progress the current product — after all, they themselves determined the console would be current for 8 years. It might be a little bit more complicated than that though.
It’s an obvious question, but when Microsoft were asked why they actually make games — after all, they make billions off Windows and enterprise software — general manager of Microsoft Studios Shannon Loftis explained the reasoning behind the process.
“I think one of the best reasons for Microsoft to continue to engage in games is just because gamers are also consumers. That loyalty, the passion that they bring to their gaming and entertainment experiences, the communities that they build.”
Let’s not forget that Microsoft contributed to gaming years before Xbox was launched in 2001. They were responsible for PC series like Age of Empires and Microsoft Flight Simulator, as well as classic desktop games like Solitaire and Minesweeper. Even now, Microsoft are still making significant headway in the games industry, with successful franchises like Gears of War and Halo still exclusive to the company, two games that have made next-generation gaming essential again. It seems Microsoft are trying to repeat this success, with announcements that new properties ReCore, Crackdown 3 and Quantum Break — originally an Xbox One launch title — are making their way to the Xbox One in 2016 and beyond.
So will a follow-up to Xbox One be necessary? In eight years or so, will the desire for a new Xbox be relevant? Will a potential successor find the audience that eventually came to the Xbox One? It’s a way off yet, and a lot can change in eight years, but with Microsoft committed and gamers always vying for the next best thing, expect a potential announcement or two by the end of 2017.
[Image via Microsoft]