Last year at E3, Phil Spencer at the end of Microsoft’s keynote, said that the company was working on new consoles for the next generation of gaming. At E3 in 2019, Phil’s on-stage discussion pointed towards one device and now the path forward is becoming a bit more clear.
In an interview with Business Insider, Phil states that the company is focused on one console even though last year he said consoles. He joked that technically Microsoft did launch a new console last year and Scarlett does make two, but anyone who was watching the event and following interviews knows that he was referring to multiple next-gen consoles.
Further, the evidence and insiders at the company acknowledged that there were two devices on the roadmap for Xbox; Lockhart and Anaconda. Even though the company has released one new console and has another planned, I firmly believe that at E3 2018, Phil was referring to two next-gen consoles on stage.
All this being said, Microsoft’s current plan for its next-generation Xbox is to focus on Scarlett and all mentions of Lockhart, which was previously documented in several places, has now been scrubbed clean. The big question is what prompted the change in the strategy?
Talking with various people inside and outside of Microsoft, here is my best conclusion as to why the device was removed from the roadmap.
First, developers were having a harder than expected time creating next-generation games that spanned across two systems with various specs. As you might expect, developers were putting a focus on making games that would run well on the lower-end device first and then scaling them up to the higher-speced, Anaconda.
Keep in mind, it’s easier to scale up than it is to scale down. Because of this, next-gen Xbox games would be at performance and visual disadvantage which is not what Microsoft would like to see as it starts to go head-to-head with the next generation PlayStation.
I’m not the only one hearing this, Digital Foundry, speaking with people at E3, have heard this too.
But that may not be the only reasons. The purpose of Lockhart was to make it easier to join the Xbox family with a console that was priced much lower than it’s a bigger brother, Anaconda. With the progress made on xCloud and its ability to bring high quality, low latency gaming to any device, Lockhart started to become more of an obstacle for Microsoft.
Even though Microsoft currently has multiple consoles available with the One S, X, and All-Digital-Edition, streamlining next generation will make it easier for the company to focus on one device. And considering margins are lower on hardware and Microsoft really just wants to sell games, no matter the platform, selling one flagship and pushing xCloud for everything else makes a bit of sense.