Home video game consoles have increasingly become more digital, gradually shifting away from physical content while pushing for larger hard drives to store the games you want. The Xbox One X, which launches today, is the most powerful console on the market, but it could be the last hurrah for Microsoft as far as physical consoles go. After testing out a service back in 2012, Phil Spencer believes Microsoft will introduce a game streaming service that won't require a console by 2020.
This tidbit of information comes from a Bloomberg interview where Phil Spencer discussed Microsoft's shifting approach to software and services. The company aims to increase in-house development of games including acquiring new studios to do so. This is lovely news following a couple unfortunate shutdowns of high-profile studios like Visceral, Motiga, and the Microsoft-owned Lionhead Studios. This new plan could potentially be an olive branch for troubled studios in the future, but there's no telling when this new blueprint will bear fruit.
“We need to grow, and I look forward to doing that,” Spencer said in the interview. “Our ability to go create content has to be one of our strengths. We haven’t always invested at the same level. We’ve gone through ups and downs in the investment.”
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella says that a change in focus means "fundamentally rethinking how we measure progress in gaming". The company is losing the hardware battle against Sony, but it's thinking about how to expand the presence of its gaming bread and butter: Xbox Live. That includes looking at eSports and game streaming. The potential of the Azure cloud computing platform is why Spencer says "Microsoft will probably debut a streaming service that doesn’t require a console for some types of content in the next three years" after the company attempting a trial service in 2012 that was too costly. Azure changes the economics and quality level, he says, so the potential for this massive shift in the home gaming dynamic is there.