What a Possible Xbox Handheld Means for Gaming

Should gamers prepare for a new type of console war?

What a Possible Xbox Handheld Means for Gaming

Could this be the future of Microsoft products?

Handheld gaming is a tricky nut to crack. Many companies have tried and failed to sell a more mobile-friendly version of their gaming consoles. The Nintendo Switch may be a huge success, but companies like Sony felt the bitter sting of defeat after trying to sell the PS Vita.

It's not that the PS Vita is a bad product—far from it—but console gaming doesn’t always translate well into a mobile experience. However, it seems like Microsoft may be ready to throw caution to the wind and go forward with a mobile version of the Xbox system.

I’ve got my list of things we should go do. - Phil Spencer

At least, that’s what Phil Spencer hinted at during a recent interview with Polygon. According to Phil, Microsoft is lagging behind other companies in terms of mobile gaming, and he has some ideas on how to fix that.

“I like the fact that Valve, Lenovo, and Asus went out and innovated in a new form factor. And I will say that when I’m playing on those devices, it almost feels more like a console than a PC — nine times out of 10. The things that usually frustrate me are more Windows-based than device-based. Which is an area I feel some ownership of. Like, I want to be able to log in with a controller.”

Spencer isn’t just concerned with getting an Xbox mobile device into production. He also wants to improve how Microsoft software functions on other devices. Years of service in the gaming industry have taught Phil that just because you build it doesn’t mean that they will come.

Because of this, he recognizes that players may interact with Microsoft software on gaming devices such as the Legion Go or the Ally. In his interview with Polygon, Spencer said the following about his two-pronged approach:

”Like, if I want to go play my console games on the go with a handheld, I don’t want to only be able to buy one brand of handheld. Right? […] I want everything that we’re doing in the hardware space to be great. But if somebody chooses to go play today [somewhere else], I don’t want them to feel like a lesser Xbox [player].”

The world of gaming is all about innovation. If a company becomes stale, it can be a death sentence. As we start getting diminishing returns on graphic capabilities, companies will have to think outside of the box to lure in new customers.

If you can’t realistically make a better console, why not make a new kind of console? Nintendo has risen from the ashes time and time again by reinventing itself. Each new device they come out with is completely different from the last, not just in performance but in style and accessibility. Although Sony and Microsoft are the current kings of the gaming world, they both might be able to learn something from Nintendo's innovative approach.

The rise of smartphone gaming has proven that there is a large market for gaming on the go. But will Microsoft be able to harness that power and turn it into a powerhouse like the Xbox series X? Only time will tell.

It should be noted that right now, all we have is speculation. Phil Spencer left his interview with Polygon without ever officially announcing or denying that an Xbox handheld was in production. But the information he did provide definitely points to the fact that the company is at least toying with the idea.

Cameron McFarland | Contributing Writer

Covering all things sci-fi, horror, gaming, and tech with an old-school, retro twist. Welcome to Sci-Fi 3D. We were geek…before it was cool!

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