Microsoft is in the early phases of rolling out its xCloud streaming service on mobile devices, but TVs are the next logical step. In an interview with The Verge, Xbox chief Phil Spencer has revealed we’ll likely see an Xbox app appear on smart TVs over the next year. “I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months,” said Spencer, when asked about turning the Xbox into a TV app. “I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that.”
Spencer previously hinted at TV streaming sticks for Microsoft’s xCloud service last month, and this latest hint suggests we might see similar hardware or an Xbox app for TVs during 2021. Microsoft is currently working on bringing xCloud to the web to enable it on iOS devices, and this work would naturally allow xCloud to expand to TVs, browsers, and elsewhere.
Microsoft was previously working on a lightweight Xbox streaming device back in 2016, but it canceled the hardware. Microsoft has been testing the idea of streaming and TV sticks ever since the company originally demonstrated Halo 4 streaming from the cloud to Windows and Windows Phones all the way back in 2013.
Microsoft’s xCloud service. Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge
While Microsoft might be pushing ahead with xCloud, it certainly has no plans to abandon consoles or hardware. “I don’t think these will be the last big pieces of hardware that we ship,” says Spencer. Instead, Microsoft sees a future where there’s a hybrid of local hardware and cloud hardware. “When we think about xCloud, which is our version of Stadia or Luna, I think what it needs to evolve to are games that actually run between a hybrid environment of the cloud and the local compute capability,” explains Spencer. “It’s really a hybrid between both of those.”
How this hybrid plays out could mean we see Xbox Series S and X consoles getting access to xCloud soon. This could allow players to try a game quickly before they fully download it from Game Pass, or possibly even stream a demo of a game before purchasing it.
Microsoft also has plans to integrate xCloud into Facebook Gaming in the future, so we’re clearly going to see a lot of changes to xCloud soon. We still don’t have full details on Microsoft’s plans for Xbox TV apps, but the company did partner with Samsung earlier this year for xCloud. Microsoft is also planning to upgrade its server blades to the more capable Xbox Series X hardware at some point in 2021.
You can read or listen to Nilay Patel’s full interview with Phil Spencer right here.