Xbox confirmed that it’s still developing a low-cost streaming stick designed to bring Game Pass to the masses by cutting out the console. However, the company appears to have hit a snag with the most recent under-development hardware and is now pivoting to a new approach.
An xCloud streaming device was first announced in June 2021 alongside plans to bring a no-hardware-required Xbox Game Pass app to supported TVs. The company had previously teased an Xbox streaming stick, stating a device you could plug into a TV or monitor to stream games was under development. More recently, a product codenamed “Keystone” appeared in an Xbox OS list.
In a statement to Windows Central, a Microsoft spokesperson reiterated Xbox’s intentions of releasing a cloud gaming dongle but admitted that the concept under development needs to be scrapped.
Our vision for Xbox Cloud Gaming is unwavering, our goal is to enable people to play the games they want, on the devices they want, anywhere they want. As announced last year, we’ve been working on a game-streaming device, codename Keystone, that could be connected to any TV or monitor without the need for a console,” a Microsoft spokesperson stated.
As part of any technical journey, we are constantly evaluating our efforts, reviewing our learnings, and ensuring we are bringing value to our customers. We have made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration of the Keystone device. We will take our learnings and refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future.
We don’t know much about the streaming stick apart from its goal to lower the barrier to entry to access Xbox Cloud Gaming, which includes hundreds of games through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, along with TV shows, movies, and other media. It could take the form of a Roku Streaming Stick or it might be a larger box with an Ethernet port and USB connections. Early leaks show a mini hub with Ethernet, USB, and HDMI ports and an appearance similar to the Xbox Series S.
Whatever the case, this device can’t arrive soon enough; while stock is slowly moving closer to demand, buying the latest Xbox consoles at retail price remains a challenge. Even if you can snag one, it’ll cost you a minimum of $300 for the Xbox Series S and $500 for the Series X. A low-cost streaming stick could benefit both consumers and Xbox, giving the former a cheaper way to experience modern gaming while the latter gains a steady stream of income via subscriptions.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, especially since Xbox intends on bringing a cloud gaming app to select TVs, removing the need for additional hardware altogether. The last thing we heard about the streaming stick was that it could arrive within the next 12 months. I wouldn’t hold my breath; after all, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said in November 2020 that we’d see an Xbox app on TVs in 12 months and that he doesn’t “think anything is going to stop us from doing that.” Here we are in 2022, still frantically clicking refresh on retailer websites for a chance to spend big money on a console.