Microsoft is working on the Xbox Streaming Stick, codenamed Keystone, and aims to bring Xbox Game Pass into as many homes as possible.
While the feeling of unlocking a new console like the Xbox Series X or PS5 for the first time remains unparalleled, the era of traditional consoles may be coming to an end. With cloud gaming going from strength to strength, and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate now integrating the Xbox Cloud game streaming service, the Xbox Streaming Stick looks like the next step.
Big, we say, but it could also be the company’s smallest device yet, which is certainly impressive considering how small the Xbox Series S is. The Xbox Streaming Stick will have more in common with a Roku Streaming Stick or Amazon Fire TV Stick than an Xbox Series X. But how will this work, when can we see it, and is it worth the wait?
Xbox Streaming Stick: Cut to the chase
- What is this? A dongle-sized device that streams Xbox games from the cloud
- When is the exit? The device has not yet been officially revealed, despite rumors that Microsoft may release new Xbox hardware by mid-2023.
- How much will it cost? It’s not decided yet, but we’re expecting a lot less from the more affordable Xbox Series S, and hopefully for a sub-$100 price tag.
Is Microsoft working on an Xbox Streaming Stick?
The first piece of the puzzle is with Microsoft’s cloud gaming technology, known as Xbox Cloud Gaming. Now officially integrated into the Xbox app for smartphones and tablets, in addition to being available on PC, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription lets you instantly stream games from the cloud on mobile devices, consoles, and PC.
Xbox Cloud Gaming will soon be a feature of regular Xbox console hardware, from the Xbox Series X all the way up to the latest generation of Xbox One consoles, allowing gamers to play the latest and most advanced games through the power of their internet connections no matter what. How old their hardware is, and past the initial download time normally required to get into the game.
At E3 2021, Microsoft revealed its intentions to bypass traditional console hardware platforms for cloud gaming services.
“Xbox is working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into Internet-connected TVs without the need for additional hardware except for a controller,” she said in a press release, indicating that TV manufacturers will soon offer a built-in Xbox app, ready to stream games from the cloud. . There is already precedent for this from Samsung, which offers the Steam Link app on web-connected TVs.
Furthermore, and most importantly, Liz Hamren, CVP of Xbox Game Experiences and Platforms, revealed that Xbox “is also developing standalone broadcast devices You can connect it to a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection you can stream your Xbox experience. ”
For those who can’t get their hands on the highly coveted new consoles, can’t upgrade their TVs to get the new TV app, or simply can’t afford the high cost that such hardware usually commands, this could be an excellent entry point into the Xbox Game System. Environmental Pass. Simply free up the HDMI port on your existing TV, plug in the dongle, and you can access hundreds of Xbox games with a Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
“We’re doing all this because Game Pass works,” Hamrin says. “It works for consumers and it works for publishers. With Game Pass, gamers spend 20% more time playing games. They play 30% more genres, and play 40% more games overall, including games outside of their Game Pass subscription.” In a recent survey, we found that over 90% of members said they played a game they otherwise would not have played without Game Pass.”
Microsoft has since confirmed that its Xbox Streaming Stick is still in development in May 2022, revealing that its codename is “Keystone”. Respond to Windows Central (Opens in a new tab) Report confirming that the device offers a “modern HDMI streaming device,” Microsoft released this statement:
“Our vision for Xbox Cloud gaming is consistent, and our goal is to enable people to play the games they want, on the devices they want, anywhere they want. As we announced last year, we’ve been working on a game streaming device, codenamed Keystone, that can be connected to any TV or monitor without The need for a controller.”
What can we expect?
The streaming stick market tends to be a race to the bottom in terms of price. Whether you’re looking for a Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, or a Roku Streaming Stick, these relatively low-power devices sell pretty cheap as their manufacturers intend to make money with the content they sell steadily.
In the case of the Xbox Streaming Stick, it will have a built-in payment tool in the form of a Game Pass Ultimate subscription that is required to access cloud streaming services. Although Microsoft will be keen to reap the slightly higher margins associated with selling traditional consoles, lower-cost stick hardware could push the lucrative service to people who wouldn’t ordinarily spend on gaming gear. This does however take into account the possibility of being bundled into a console with any streaming stick bundle.
It could also appeal to those who turn up their noses at the thought of having a large console box under their TVs. Streaming sticks tend to be small, USB-powered docking stations that take up the HDMI port on your TV and are only a few inches long. It’s largely hidden from view at all times, and in the case of the proposed Xbox, it would only require an additional Xbox controller to function.
Streaming devices are often relatively low-powered, and with Xbox Cloud Gaming currently targeting only 1080p, Full HD streams won’t necessarily need a great deal of internal processing power to feel the speed — provided the user’s internet connection is stable and fast. Xbox could make a bigger streaming device, like the Amazon Fire TV Cube or Apple TV 4K, and add the oomph to support 4K streams at a later date.
But that would drive up the price, and cause any streaming device to start cannibalizing the market space that the currently cheaper Xbox Series S is targeting. There’s a feeling that, since consumers already understand the point and usefulness of streaming sticks, Microsoft can get the Xbox Streaming Stick to market relatively quickly.
But the snag is getting people to buy into the concept of cloud gaming — it was hard enough to get gamers to the concept of digital purchases over physical versions, an idea that’s now starting to feel like the norm. Cloud gaming has to contend with the fact that if your web speed is running slow or inconsistently, performance will be a choppy mess.
The Xbox’s cloud technology is among the most advanced and stable we’ve ever seen, but Microsoft will want to feel confident that it’s educated its audience well enough about what to expect — and that broadband market speeds can generally be expected to keep pace with the demands of cloud gaming.
When will the Xbox Streaming Stick launch?
Microsoft has not officially revealed the launch date of the Xbox Streaming Stick, but rumors abound. VentureBeat’s Jeff Grubb and The Verge’s Tom Warren both claimed in May 2022 that Microsoft is preparing to launch the device sometime in the next twelve months. This means that we could see the streaming dongle hitting shelves as soon as mid-2023.
With the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S only being released at the end of 2020, this expected launch date is somewhat surprising. Microsoft will make sure to sell as many Xbox consoles as possible before releasing this cheaper streaming alternative. If the streaming stick launches by next year, it will save a lot of potential customers from having to buy an expensive piece of hardware.
According to Grubb and Warren, Microsoft will release the stick as part of the broader Xbox Everywhere project, an initiative designed to expand Xbox Cloud Gaming’s reach to more devices, markets, and gamers. The idea is to make Xbox streaming more accessible than ever by giving potential gamers, who would be turned off by the cost of expensive gaming hardware, an affordable way to navigate Xbox Game Pass.
While the 12-month time frame may seem broad, even this suspected launch window is best taken with a pinch of salt. Microsoft has yet to officially announce a launch window of any kind, and Xbox chief Phil Spencer has been known to be ahead of himself in the past.
talked about earlier (Opens in a new tab) The upcoming Xbox TV app dates back in November 2020, which indicates that it should be expected to appear within 12 months. Well, now 12 months have passed and gone, and we still don’t have a native Xbox app for smart TVs. Let’s hope Xbox Everywhere is the project that finally puts the app and the Xbox streaming stick in our hands.