Last month at the Electronics Entertainment Expo, Microsoft confirmed that it will launch its Project xCloud game streaming service in preview in October.
xCloud offers high-quality streaming of titles from all generations of Xbox hardware to devices like smartphones and tablets.
In June 2018, Thurrott‘s Brad Sams, an often-reliable Microsoft tipster, reported that the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant is developing a streaming-focused console.
Now, Sams says he’s hearing that the console is still being “actively developed” at Microsoft. According to Sams, the box will have a “marginal amount of compute [power],” which will make the [xCloud streaming] experience just a little bit better than if it was playing from a TV or something like that.”
Sams likened this process to rival streaming service Google Stadia, which supports a proprietary controller that connects directly to Google’s servers. In doing so, latency is reduced and the overall experience can be improved.
Sams suggests that Microsoft will offer the xCloud box at a low price, possibly in the $60 USD ($78 CAD) to $75 USD ($98 CAD) range, depending on if it packs in an Xbox controller. This would also position it as the least expensive way to play Xbox games, following the release of the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition in May.
It’s worth noting that the existence of an xCloud console seemingly contradicts recent comments made by Microsoft. For more than a year, it was rumoured that Microsoft was working on two next-generation Xbox consoles — the beefier ‘Scarlett’ (also previously referred to as Anaconda) and more affordable, entry-level ‘Lockhart.’
However, Xbox chief Phil Spencer addressed those rumours last month by confirming that Scarlett is the only next-generation Xbox it’s working on at the moment. That said, it’s possible that Spencer doesn’t actually consider the xCloud device to be a next-gen console, given that its supposed price and function would put it more in the realm of being a set-top box accessory.
Spencer specifically seemed to be shutting down rumours of Lockhart or a similar full-priced console, which doesn’t necessarily rule out something small like the xCloud box.