With the Xbox One X about to release, a lot of gamers are definitely excited. At the same time, there are folks who are concerned about what Microsoft’s hardware release strategy will look like from now on. The Xbox One X is a mid-generation upgrade, only the second of its kind (next to the PS4 Pro). Coming four years after the original Xbox One launched, it’s appropriate to wonder when the next Xbox system will be releasing.
This topic was brought up during a recent interview with Xbox Marketing Lead Albert Penello, conducted by GameInformer. The example of the smartphone market and its annual releases was given. Penello was quick to confirm that Microsoft doesn’t plan to pursue a similar strategy:
That’s why we have to make a promise around compatibility and really demonstrate that we care about the games. These are all optional….I don’t think we’re going to get into an annualized console cycle – I don’t think I could personally survive trying to launch a new console every year [laughs]. I don’t think it’s healthy for the industry. I do think you’ll see more rapid innovation, but that’s going to be up to customers to kind of tell us what the right time is. Then, what I think we really want to say is, “Hey, we’re making a huge investment in game compatibility.” We’re trying to prove that out by going back and doing upgrades to 360 titles and bringing original games, making sure we have 100% compatibility between S and X. That investment you make with Xbox content is something that we’re really going to care about going forward.
He elaborated on what Microsoft has in mind:
It’s interesting because I like to use the smartphone model in some cases, but certainly, there are downsides to the annualized model as well. There was a lot of indicators that we looked at. We saw 4K TVs and we liked that – that’s important for people internally to look at the tech and believe in it – you see the wide color gamut, you see HDR, you see 4K and you’re like, “Okay, this is really beautiful. There’s something here.” That was one observation.
The second was you go talk to TV manufacturers and you ask them, “What do you think is going to happen?” and they’re very bullish. You look at analyst predictions and you see how TVs are going to migrate and that 4K is going to be there. You look at PC game developers and how rapidly they embraced 4K textures and 4K assets on PC. The game content is there. Then you look at customer behavior and smartphones and PCs, which have had a resurgence in the past 5 or 10 years with people upgrading their video cards, and you realize that consoles are kind of the last technology that makes you wait, like, a decade between bumps. So you look at all of those things and you start asking, “What’s the best way to do this for gaming, for gamers, and for this industry?” Because you want to kind of pick the best, most logical parts of those observations.
That was what was fun about this process: sort of asking ourselves those questions. “What’s the right way to do this in a way that’s better for gamers and better for developers that gets us all the energy of a console launch, but doesn’t have the business disruption and customer disruption that typically comes with them?” That informed a lot of the product that we built.
I think it’s great that Microsoft isn’t attempting to release a new, more powerful system regularly. While it’s true that other devices in the tech world are updated, the whole purpose of consoles is to be long-term investments. That’s why we’ve had console generations. Both Microsoft and Sony have kind of ‘changed up the game’ so to speak with these mid-generation upgrades. It remains unclear if this really will be how console generations are handled going forward. Ultimately, the ones to decide that are us, the gamers. If Microsoft sees a big interest in the Xbox One X, then no doubt we should expect the company to adopt this mid-generation upgrade strategy completely.
But the question still remains: how long will it take for a new Xbox to come out? Only time will tell, but with the Xbox One X already providing such a decent boost in power, it’s hard to say for sure.