Microsoft is only launching one next-generation Xbox, not two

Last year, it became clear that Microsoft was planning to launch not one, but two very different next-gen consoles. However, now that the mist is clearing and hardware is being locked down, Microsoft is focusing in on just one new Xbox for 2020.

Microsoft’s decision to launch one next-gen Xbox has been confirmed by Xbox chief Phil Spencer. During an interview with Business Insider he was asked about the comment he made last year about multiple games consoles being in development. The comment was clearly talking about next generation hardware. However, Spencer suggested that the disc-less Xbox One S All Digital Edition was one of those, with Project Scarlett being the other.

While Xbox chief Phil Spencer did reveal the company was “deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” at E3 last year, plans have clearly changed as only Project Scarlett was mentioned as a single console this year. Thurrott previously reported that Scarlett would ship with both a high-end console, and a “cloud console” with limited amounts of local compute “for specific tasks like controller input, image processing, and importantly, collision detection.” Windows Central also previously claimed that a cheaper Xbox One S-style console, codenamed Lockhart, would appear in holiday 2020.

Spencer addressed the use of “consoles” during a recent Business Insider interview. “Last year we said consoles, and we’ve shipped a console and we’ve now detailed another console. I think that’s plural,” says Spencer. “Right now, we’re focused on Project Scarlett and what we put on stage.”

Microsoft’s strategy shift has also been driven by its xCloud plans. The software maker was originally planning to launch xCloud in beta with developers in mind to help them build cloud games instead of using local debug machines, and then launch the service to consumers at a later date. Microsoft has significantly increased its xCloud investments in the past year, and also scaled back its ambitions for public testing as it works on tweaking the underlying hardware powering the service to better deliver streaming on consoles, PCs, and TVs.

Microsoft has been trying to get ahead of Google’s Stadia announcements ever since. The company demonstrated xCloud for the first time a week before Google’s Stadia unveiling, and then randomly revealed xCloud will support 3,500 games two weeks ahead of Google’s Stadia pricing and game details. Microsoft then went into E3 with very little to say about xCloud, apart from hints that the underlying hardware is going to change.

While Microsoft originally unveiled as a service built from Xbox One S hardware, the company is now focusing its xCloud future on the power of its upcoming Scarlett console. “Project Scarlett and all of its power and all of its performance is the foundation of our future in console and the formation of our future in cloud,” said Spencer during his E3 keynote. Focusing solely on a Scarlett console in the living room and the cloud, partnering with Sony, and scrapping multi-console plans make a lot more sense for Microsoft as it seeks to battle a new and formidable competitor.

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