Xbox boss Phil Spencer talks about improving future consoles

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Last week, Xbox boss Phil Spencer made a few comments. Comments about a future where consoles could be incrementally upgraded in a manner that the brotherhood of the Pee See adopted when they left our happy shores so many Steam sales ago.  So what did those comments even mean then? Are we going to need to risk voiding a warranty or two, cracking open the Xbox One shell and fiddling with the internals?

Not exactly. Because we all know just how disastrous I can be when left alone with some technology and a few screwdrivers. “Am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces of my console? That’s not our plan,” Spencer said on Major Nelson’s latest podcast via GameSpot.

There is something special about what happens with a console. You buy an appliance-like device; you plug it into your TV; it works when you plug it in. It’s not like I’m going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out.

Spencer is rather hoping that console gaming can reach a point where you won’t have to wait for the hardware to end a seven or eight year life-cycle to evolve. There’s a plan at Microsoft for something, but they’re not ready to spill the beans yet. “What I’m saying is as hardware innovations happen we want to be able to embrace those in the console space,” Spencer explained.

And make those available and maybe not have to wait seven or eight years for things to happen. But right now, we’re not announcing hardware. I’m happy with the console we have and the platform we built on top of that console and the constant innovation and the games that are there. But as a longer-term vision statement I wanted to make sure people understood what we’re doing I think is good for the console space in addition to being good for the PC space.

People have asked me before, are we going to do another console, and I say I fully expect that we will. And people say well, why do you say fully expect? Why don’t you just say yes? I’m in a job right now–I make decisions based on what’s today; I can’t always predict the future. But if you think about the strategy we’re on, the strategy is a long-term vision that includes multiple hardware generations on both console, and frankly PC.

So I wanted to explain that what we’re doing today I think makes the console ecosystem better, in a way. Because I, both personally, as well as watching what happens in the industry, I’ve said the ‘end of a generation’ and this step-function that happens is not something I embrace. I think it’s something we can do better at. I see it in music, I see it in books, I see it in movies. When I buy digital content, that digital content stays with me and I’m able to use it when I got out and get new devices.

Look, I probably wouldn’t say no to the idea of a more modular console, so long as the upgrades weren’t released every fortnight. At the same time, I like paying for something that is built to last an entire life-cycle of gaming. That, and I still can’t get my damn Atari Jaguar CD add-on to work properly. Gimme my money back Atari, dammit.

Last Updated: March 7, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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