Microsoft Console-Less Streaming Game Service Should Debut by 2020, Says Phil Spencer

The company attempted a trial of such a service in 2012, but it was too costly. Recent progress in cloud services is changing things, though.


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 VisceralMotiga, 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.

Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 7, 2017 8:15 AM

    Charles Singletary posted a new article, Microsoft Console-Less Streaming Game Service Should Debut by 2020, Says Phil Spencer

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      November 7, 2017 8:40 AM

      What a bizarre thing to say on the day that you release a $500 console...

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        November 7, 2017 8:46 AM

        Investors know that there is no money made on console hardware, all the money is made on software and services. If they can have a streaming service that has minimal lag that can stream their games to any device then that is much more interesting to people investing. I'm guessing they expand game pass to all platforms via streaming.

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          November 7, 2017 8:51 AM

          I understand those points, I am just saying that announcing this today is terrible PR. Nintendo and Apple both do a great job of surprising their customers. Microsoft does quite the opposite.

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            November 7, 2017 9:37 AM

            Why? Anyone who is interested in the One X is not in the market for a streaming service

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              November 7, 2017 9:41 AM

              Maybe, maybe not. They could definitely overlap and either way they're saying "that new thing we just released? Yeah we have another way to play those games coming up soon" and of course because the new thing coming out is coming out later it's going to be better right? It's just a crossed streams advertising issue.

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              November 7, 2017 3:16 PM

              Focus is good. Why talk about something three years away when there’s new hardware to sell in the years running up to that?

              The way things are now it’s so much better to sit on news until very late. Nintendo didn’t reveal the Switch until six months out, Apple makes product reveals only months before they’re on shelves (or that same day!).

              This announcement doesn’t appease investors and it gets in the way of relevant news today. IDGI

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          November 7, 2017 2:29 PM

          Investors know that there is no money made on console hardware"[q

          Depends on who you are. If you are Nintendo or Apple then profit is built into the hardware and accessories. The Switch is profitable before a single game or accessory is sold, and more than enough has been said about Apple's profit margins.

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          November 7, 2017 2:36 PM

          so far multiple companies have made fairly good money selling console hardware and associated software and services. No one has done the same with streaming games. Not to say it isn't possible at some point but it's not like it's a well understood lucrative opportunity

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        November 7, 2017 9:51 AM

        Don't you get it? It means this will be the last physical console so you'd better buy it because one day it will be a collector's item like the last manual-shift Ferrari.


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        November 7, 2017 2:33 PM


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      November 7, 2017 9:46 AM

      Streaming box bundled with kinect.

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      November 7, 2017 2:30 PM

      I love Phil, but they are flailing. But the other bit of news to come out of this is their commitment to first party titles. Either through acquisition or setting up new studios. But I agree with the sentiment that saying you have a streaming service coming on the launch day of a new console is absolutely tone deaf.

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        November 7, 2017 2:34 PM

        yep, MS is panacking

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        November 7, 2017 2:38 PM

        This makes the third or forth time Microsoft has announced 'their commitment to first party titles?' They just closed 2 studios.

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      November 7, 2017 3:22 PM


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