Streaming-only Xbox "cloud console" isn't happening just yet

At its pre-Gamescom interview with Gamespot, Microsoft Xbox head Phil Spencer had a lot to say about the company's focus for the future of Xbox gaming. Naturally, one of the biggest points of interests has been Project xCloud game streaming. Specifically, there has been rumors about an Xbox "Lite" that eschews the expensive hardware in lieu of streaming games. That may sound almost dreamy but that may now remain a dream as Spencer insists they aren't working on such a console just yet.

One of the biggest selling factors of the game streaming promise is the ability to play on almost any device, regardless of the device's actual hardware. Sometimes even a Raspberry Pi would do, depending on its streaming capabilities. What more a "cloud console" version of the Xbox with minimum requirements needed to support Microsoft's upcoming xCloud.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the company's immediate vision. It isn't competing yet with Google Stadia's vision of gaming everywhere, particularly on TVs via a Chromecast and a dedicated controller. Spencer says that, instead, Microsoft is focusing on streaming to smartphones for game streaming.

In Xbox's grand vision, the console remains the place where you'll want to play games locally while smartphones let you take your games elsewhere. Unlike the Nintendo Switch, the idea is to offer a no-compromise experience, especially in terms of the quality of graphics.

The question, of course, is whether Project xCloud can deliver that without demanding too much from the user's Internet connection. While game streaming platforms like Google Stadia and Microsoft Project xCloud offload much of the hardware to the cloud, it does increase the burden on the network connection required for responsive or even basic gameplay.