During this year's Microsoft E3 press conference, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer directly stated a new console would be coming in the near future, though further details were not given. A new report by Thurrott published Monday suggests the company may finally take the plunge into an optical drive free console.
According to Thurrott, Microsoft will still cater to it's traditional customers with a standard next-gen console in 2020. But the codename Scarlett project will also include a streaming only variation. This version would still include the hardware components of registering control inputs and collision detection as well as processing a game's visuals. But the vast majority of the power required would be offput to the streaming source, greatly reducing the price of the console.
If that sounds confusing, it's for good reason. This set up has been designed from the ground up by Microsoft and includes previously unseen systems. Both the streaming Scarlett device and it's cloud source would simultaneously process the same small section of a game, using each as a reference to create a seemingly lag free experience.
If true, this could introduce a whole host of possible solutions and problems. Despite an increased reliance on digital games over conventional retail discs, streaming has yet to achieve mainstream popularity. Sony's PlayStation Now launched in 2015 but has remained a retentively quiet aspect of the PlayStation brand. But with major publishers and developers such as Electronic Arts and Ubisoft publicly teasing their streaming plans, the push towards cloud based game services appears inevitable.
Then there are the issues of bandwidth and infrastructure. One of the major concerns verbalized during the initial Xbox One roll out was the limited internet availability in rural Europe and North America, an issue that remains to this day. Meanwhile, metro areas with fast internet are often restricted by a provider's bandwidth cap. Forcing users to carefully monitor their internet use or pay a series of additional fees.
Hopefully by next E3 we'll have more clarity regarding Microsoft's strategy towards cloud streaming, 4K, and perhaps maybe even a game or two.