Cloud streaming will complement consoles not replace them says Microsoft

We’ve noticed some trends during E3 this year – apocalyptic settings in games, a real push forward into always-online experiences, and talk of the end of this console generation and the prospective end of consoles altogether in the future. There's a revolution in the air.

Following Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot’s recent posit that the next generation of consoles could be the last before we move to less hardware-centric cloud streaming, we’ve been looking for signs that this might be the case. 

Our interest was piqued, therefore, when Phil Spencer took to the stage for the Xbox E3 conference and talked about the idea of being able to stream console-quality games to any device. 

Was the company behind the most powerful console currently on the market really underplaying hardware? After the show we had the chance to sit down with Microsoft's Chief Marketing Officer for gaming, Mike Nichols, to find out what the future might look like for Xbox – and he told us that consoles will still be very much a part of it. 

No competition

When it comes to cloud streaming and console hardware, Nichols said “I don’t think of these two notions as in competition with each other I think of them as very much complementary.” The idea of being able to play console-quality games anywhere, he explained, is focused on expanding the Xbox audience rather than dropping its consoles.

“For the many millions of people that are out there in the world who play on game consoles like me - I like having a nice television, I like having a console, I like having discs that I can bring back and forth to peoples’ houses - this whole notion of being able to play games at their absolute highest quality on TV is, I don’t know, that’s important to me. And that’s why we build game consoles,” he explained, “Now at the same time [...], even though I really like playing at home with a game console, the idea that I could be playing that and then go on the train and keep playing the same game via phone sounds really cool.”

'I don’t think of these two notions as in competition with each other I think of them as very much complementary'

Mike Nichols, Microsoft CMO for Gaming

While the idea of his mobile being a streaming extension of his at home console is appealing to Nichols as an existing Xbox user, he said that it also has the potential to draw a far wider and new audience into Xbox gaming: 

“People in certain regions where maybe a console isn’t as appropriate, they don’t have a television at home, they don’t have space in their apartment to kind of set things up the way they want. Perhaps they don’t want to invest several hundred dollars in a console but they know that they need to talk to their friends so they have a phone. Reaching those new players is the other benefit potentially of cloud streaming. 

"So again I don’t think of these two notions as in competition with each other, I think of them as very much complementary. Certainly as someone who makes consoles [...] and has alluded to the fact that we’re planning future ones, that kind of speaks largely to our view that they’re complementary as opposed to competing.” 

Although we can’t be entirely sure of what the distant future holds for gaming but it seems that for Microsoft consoles will be a part of it for a while yet. 

  •  E3 is the world's largest exhibition for the games industry, stuffed full of the latest and greatest games, consoles, and gaming hardware. TechRadar is reporting live from Los Angeles all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated E3 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about the next year in gaming.   
Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.