In a recent interview with Stratechery (via The Verge), the Xbox commander and chief Phil Spencer spoke on Xbox's future and extending the reach of the brand. During the interview, Spencer hinted at a potential Xbox-branded streaming stick, “I think you’re going to see lower-priced hardware as part of our ecosystem when you think about streaming sticks and other things that somebody might want to just go plug into their TV and go play via xCloud.”.
Spencer then followed up with, “You could imagine us even having something that we just included in the Game Pass subscription that gave you an ability to stream xCloud games to your TV and buying the controller.”
Microsoft and Xbox have been making moves over the past two years to empower gamers to play where they want to play. A big component of this is Xbox Project xCloud, a service that enables gamers to play Xbox games on Android devices, Windows 10 PCs, and the Xbox platforms. With this already in place, adding a streaming stick to the mix isn’t that far-fetched.
Instead of having potential customers drop $300 or more on a new gaming console, the company can instead offer a cheaper alternative, such as a streaming stick. Then all gamers have to do is plug it into their TV, pair an Xbox controller to it, and suddenly they’ll have access to hundreds of first-party and third-party games.
It wouldn’t be the first time a company has taken this approach, either. Google’s Stadia requires Google’s Chromecast dongle to work with TVs, while Amazon’s upcoming game streaming service, Luna, will work on the Amazon Fire TV sticks.
Should Microsoft go forward with an Xbox branded streaming stick, I hope they consider adding a wired connection, or the ability to connect a 3rd-party wired ethernet adaptor. While most streaming sticks incorporate a Wi-Fi connection, and since they only handle media content, that works out fine. Well, most of the time, anyway. But gamers are going to need the best connection available, and that’s a wired connection.
Here’s to hoping that we’ll see an Xbox-branded streaming stick in the future.