Microsoft reportedly greenlit several new hardware projects, including a potential handheld Xbox console, and Xbox president Phil Spencer may have unintentionally confirmed it.
Despite laying off 1,900 employees in January, Microsoft seemingly has big plans for its gaming division. Although Xbox is slowly moving away from physical media, that doesn’t mean its hardware division will disappear. If anything, Microsoft seems optimistic about its future.
Leaked documents from 2023’s FTC investigation revealed that, as of 2022, Microsoft was planning for new gaming hardware up until 2028. This included plans for a new Xbox Series console and a next-gen Xbox. Still, most of these were likely in the conceptualization stage as opposed to being in active development. One thing that wasn’t discussed was a handheld gaming device, but there’s a report and something akin to official confirmation that a Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch competitor is coming.
Will Xbox release a handheld console?
Internal documents confirmed that Microsoft was considering a handheld console for the Xbox. Though it has not been officially confirmed that this is in the works, there are both reports and evidence that it is.
Jez Corden stated on the Xbox Two podcast that a handheld console has been “discussed” by Microsoft. Leaked documents from Microsoft that were submitted to the court during its FTC trial regarding the Activision Blizzard acquisition corroborate this, with a possible handheld supplement for the next-gen Xbox console being discussed therein.
This came from Corden writing an article for Windows Central where he stated that a Microsoft-made handheld gaming device was a necessity. A tweet promoting this article by Windows Central was liked by Xbox president Phil Spencer.
While nothing official has been announced, this move would make sense. The success of Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch proves there’s a market for handheld consoles powerful enough to run AAA games. There’s also the possibility of Microsoft creating a handheld gaming device that isn’t powerful enough to run games but can stream titles via Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft has a mixed history when it comes to portable electronics. The Windows Phone line landed with a thud in 2010 and was discontinued after failing to convert Apple and Android users. On the flipside, the Microsoft Surface line of PC tablets has proven to be a success. A dedicated portable gaming device would be new territory for the company, however.
Is Xbox developing next-gen consoles?
Microsoft has at least two new pieces of Xbox hardware in the works.
The leaked internal documents from Microsoft included plans for an upgraded version of the Xbox Series S console, a next-generation Xbox console set for release in the future, and discussion of a handheld gaming device. According to Corden, Microsoft has “greenlit multiple new hardware projects” for the Xbox brand.
Additionally, Corden stated that Xbox hardware will stick around for a long while. There are also plans for more console exclusives in the future. An underwhelming lineup of exclusive titles has always been one of the primary criticisms of the Xbox, dating back to its introduction in 2001. This has taken a turn of late with Microsoft now seemingly set to release some of its most successful Xbox exclusives on competing consoles.
The FTC documents detailed plans for a “hybrid game platform” that combined physical hardware with cloud computing for maximum performance. There were also blueprints for a diskless Xbox console, codenamed “Brooklin.” These plans show Microsoft’s commitment to a “digital-only” future for its consoles. Corden did not confirm which of these devices were greenlit, or whether something else may have been ideated in the time since those documents were created.