A while back, Microsoft and Xbox decided to do something, which at the time many considered crazy, by diverting away from the tradition of making games specifically for their Xbox console. Instead of focusing on a single piece of plastic, they split their forces between the Xbox, the PC, and now mobile devices, a gamble that many assumed wouldn’t pan out and the Xbox brand would fall flat on their face.
Yet, here we are a year a later, and while I wasn’t 100% sure if this bold new strategy would work, but I was sure that this didn’t mean the end of Xbox. I had been an advocate for this for sometime but I’ve never fully taken advantage of what Xbox was offering. So I decided to see for myself how this would all work by removing my own Xbox One X from the equation and focusing on solely gaming on my PC and Android phone.
I typically keep all my gaming consoles in my office, that way I can just sit down and play whatever I want at any given time. However, about three weeks ago, I unplugged my Xbox and took it downstairs. The reason for this was two-fold; I wanted to see if I could solely focus on playing my Xbox games on my PC, and I wanted to see if I would miss having the Xbox in my room.
Three weeks into this experiment, I have to say that I haven’t missed the Xbox in my office one bit. Now, when I want to play Forza Horizon 4, Gears of War 5, Halo: Master Chief Collection, at least when it comes to Xbox published games. Thankfully, it expands past those as Xbox Game Pass PC also provides me with a large number of third-party Xbox games as well. I have two Xbox One controllers connected to my PC, and I just hit the power button to start my PC up, which takes me to my PlayNite interface (it’s like Steam big picture but better) and I control almost everything from my controller. It’s like having a more powerful Xbox console at my command.
For other games that I couldn’t get on my PC, I just fired up Project xCloud on my Android phone and suddenly I had access to a vast number of Xbox One titles. Again, without actually having an Xbox One in front of me. Sure, I did experience some latency and yes, it was a pain at times, but the concept works and it’s only going to get better.
This does pose an interesting dilemma for me, however. That of course being if I should pick up an Xbox Series X when it’s released. With those, things are going now, and how I have two capable gaming PCs that should last me for some time, I’m not sure. Yes, as a lover of sexy tech, the Xbox Series X is tempting, but at least for the first two years, it won’t benefit me.
Where does this leave me? In a place where I was almost certain that I’d scoop up the Xbox Series X on day one, to now where I’m on the fence about it. I know by the time the console is released I’ll get it, but if I’m being 100% honest, it will likely just sit on my console shelf just like my Xbox One did, before I transplanted it.
Xbox’s strategy is both perplexing and revolutionary at the same. I love having access to the Xbox games without needing an Xbox. Yet this could pose an issue with selling Xbox hardware. As a consumer, I love it, but as a business person, I’d be confused about the overall message that’s being sent.
It’s not that I don’t either understand or appreciate what Xbox is doing, because it’s quite the opposite. I appreciate the foundation Xbox is laying out, but it does pose a question about the future of the Xbox brand. One that no longer will be attached to just a plastic box from Microsoft. To which, at least the Xbox brand would continue on, even if games were made accessible on other platforms, similar to what Xbox is doing right now for the PC and mobile devices. How wild and interesting would that be?