Rumors of a standalone Xbox streaming console have been doing the rounds for a while now. Not that you’re short of ways to play yet: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is available on full-fledged Xbox consoles, PCs, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. But a dongle or streaming box similar to an Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV Cube has clear advantages.
It is a fact that Microsoft was indeed working on such a device – but the company also confirmed that it has scrapped the project outright. Does this mean a standalone Xbox streaming console is off the cards forever? And what happened that made the Xbox owner throw in the towel? Here’s how the story unfolded:
Xbox Streaming Console: What Was Keystone?
Microsoft originally confirmed it was working on dedicated streaming hardware in 2021. The device, codenamed ‘Keystone’, would transfer the entire gaming experience to the cloud and could be connected to any TV. It has gone through several redesigns to date, with the reasons behind such rejigs remaining unexplained. The implication was that Microsoft was working on a slimmed-down version of Windows, rather than relying on pre-existing software.
Keystone’s existence was effectively revealed in October, when head of Xbox Phil Spencer posted a picture of his bookshelf to Twitter. Harmless enough right? No. On that shelf was a suspicious white box that eagle-eyed followers thought was a prototype Xbox Cloud device. The official Xbox account replied to the original tweet, saying “Now what did we say about putting old prototypes on your shelf boss.”
Later that month, however, Spencer told the WSJ Tech Conference that the white box was indeed a prototype for the Xbox streaming system, but that it had been shelved in favor of a partnership with Samsung, bringing Xbox Cloud Gaming built into the company. . smart TVs.
How does Xbox streaming work on Samsung smart TVs?
The Samsung deal gives anyone with select Samsung smart TVs (and an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription) instant access to over 100 Xbox games, even if they don’t own an Xbox console. You just need a Bluetooth controller to get started – yes, even a PS5 Dual Sense controller will do the trick.
Once the controller and TV are paired and the Xbox app is downloaded on Samsung’s Tizen smart TV operating system, you can log in with your Xbox account and start streaming right away. You can expect 1080p resolution at 60fps as long as you have a fast enough internet connection. Wi-Fi will do, but you’ll have a more consistent experience with an Ethernet cable.
At £10.99/$15 a month, it’s a tempting proposition for gamers who haven’t made the jump to current-gen hardware but want a taste of Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite or Microsoft Flight Simulator. Our experience is that there is little input lag, and the images also hold up well.
The only disadvantage? You need a 2022 (or newer) Samsung TV or smart monitor to participate.
Will there ever be an Xbox streaming console?
That’s fine for anyone who already owns a new Samsung television, but not good for the rest of us – either because we’ve recently picked up a model from a rival manufacturer or don’t have the money to replace an existing set . And when a big pro for cloud gaming is affordability, shelling out for a brand new TV seems counterproductive.
Microsoft could forge more partnerships with other TV brands and Samsung could filter support for its older models, but we still think more people would buy an Xbox streaming device rather than a brand new TV if Microsoft actually produced one .
Phil Spencer has extended at least one little olive branch and said Microsoft will probably ever launch an Xbox device – although he also indicated that it could be years away.
An Xbox dongle would be a cheap alternative for gamers and could also benefit from the demise of Google Stadia. But for now, the Xbox dongle is dead. Long live… whatever comes next.