Microsoft Wants Xbox to be Upgradable Like a PC

Steven Bogos

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Microsoft Wants Xbox to be Upgradable Like a PC

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Microsoft's Phil Spencer argues that consoles could and should be upgradable, just like a PC.

Xbox One [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/microsoft] gaming. At an event last week, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said the company is aiming to align its Windows 10 and Xbox One development activities under the internal "Universal Windows Platform" while offering backwards compatibility for many Xbox 360 games, now playable on Xbox One. But that's not all: Spencer's vision for the future includes an Xbox with upgradable hardware, just like a PC, meaning that gamers will be able to incrementally upgrade their console throughout its lifespan.

"We see on other platforms whether it be mobile or PC that you get a continuous innovation that you rarely see on console," he said. "Consoles lock the hardware and the software platforms together at the beginning of the generation. Then you ride the generation out for seven or so years, while other ecosystems are getting better, faster, stronger. And then you wait for the next big step function."

"I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we've ever seen," said Spencer, suggesting that Xbox One owners could be offered optional hardware upgrades in the future, thus finally putting an end to console generations.

"We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me. Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don't have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before."

As for the "why" behind this big move, in an interview with Polygon [http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/1/11121666/xbox-one-hardware-upgrades-phil-spencer-microsoft], Spencer stated "It used to be that when you bought your console you were way ahead of the price performance curve by so much, relative to a PC. But now PCs are inexpensive and your phones are getting more and more capable."

When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600... well, he isn't wrong!

Source: Polygon [http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/1/11121666/xbox-one-hardware-upgrades-phil-spencer-microsoft]

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RJ 17

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Nov 27, 2011
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Huh, and here I thought we've already had consoles with upgradeable parts for the longest time. I think they're called PC's...
 

WeepingAngels

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This is how consoles die. Making consoles upgrade able has no upside over PC's and it fragments the market. I suspect what Microsoft wants is to rein in PC's, to make them more locked down like consoles. No doubt the locked down nature of consoles has spoiled them since they launched the original Xbox.
 

marioandsonic

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If Microsoft comes out with a new Xbox that's upgradeable, but also has all of its games available to play on Windows 10, then what's the point? I already have a PC.
 

Darth Rosenberg

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Well, whilst his remarks confirm to me he's one of the most honest and sensible people in the biz - in that he's openly and brazenly recognising why consoles are problematic - I'm not sure MS can really achieve what he might like to see happen.

Speaking just for myself, I'd love the XB1 to morph into what the Steam Machine should've been; a dedicated, simple, front-room console/media hub with the perks of hardware iteration. But I can't see it happening this gen.
 

Pyrian

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You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.
 

Asclepion

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Dedicated hardware solely for playing games is an outdated concept. Glory to the PC Master Race!
 

WeepingAngels

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When I start thinking of an upgrade-able console, Sega comes to mind. It wasn't a good idea then and it's not a good idea now.
 

fix-the-spade

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I suspect this is a reaction to the Xbone being at the bottom of the hardware food chain right now and a desire to avoid that in future.

This way, they can put a relative lack of performance on the consumer's head instead of their own. It also opens the way for a Xbox branded PC and even further Win 10 'integration,' as they like to call it.

Given the hardware and software disaster that is gaming on the Win 10store I would prefer this not to happen.
 

Bob_McMillan

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When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600... well, he isn't wrong!
Holy shit, a PC that's 250 bucks more expensive than a console is going to outperform it? NO WAY?!

OT: I point you to the Steam machines. Upgradeable consoles have always been a dumb idea and should stay a dumb idea.
 

tippy2k2

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Please don't.

I am a console gamer because I know exactly what I'm getting and will have no problems with it (unless the game company done fucked up of course but that's something I can see ahead of time). Some of those ideas they've flirted with in the past are bad enough

If you take away all the advantages that the console has (a list that seems to dwindle as these guys "innovate" with ideas like always online and whatnot), then I might as well just get a PC and stop buying the console.
 

Saltyk

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Pyrian said:
You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.
My thoughts exactly. One advantage of consoles is that I don't have to ask if my PS4 can play this PS4 game. I know it can. Because it's a PS4. With PC gaming there is the question of if your system can even play the game. And even if it can, there are questions of performance. There is nothing wrong with PC gaming. But there is no reason to go that route with consoles.

WeepingAngels said:
When I start thinking of an upgrade-able console, Sega comes to mind. It wasn't a good idea then and it's not a good idea now.
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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I remember when the Nintendo 64 had an expansion slot for extra system RAM. I thought that was a good idea.

As a PC Master Race'er, I would suggest keeping consoles as consoles. While I applaud Microsoft releasing game on both their console and PC, I must point out the the new Windows Store app is almost as bad as Games For Windows Live.
 

Bob_McMillan

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When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600

Holy shit, a PC thats 250 bucks more expensive than consoles outperforms them? NO WAY?!

OT: Steam Machines, just look at them. Never a good idea, because we all know even if there was a good way to do it, Microsoft or Sony would still mess it up.
 

Joccaren

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Pyrian said:
You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.
At the same time, its the reason they're eventually going to die, and this guy recognises that.

Why would I buy a console? For a quarter of the price I can buy a handheld with similar capabilities. My phone which I have to buy anyway is reaching similar capabilities, and its only so long before someone gets the bright idea of a phone accessory console controller.
Mobile devices are also cheaper & easier to develop for than consoles generally, with a much larger market. As they become more and more powerful, every year advancing closer to console-level power, more 'hardcore' companies are likely to go to the mobile market, and begin to learn its design quirks to create experiences there.
And for the big screen stay at home experience? PCs. Most people need to own one anyway. For $200 you can turn it into a full on gaming rig. Without that $200 it'll still play most games competently. You can plug it into anything you want. You have the single widest selection of games. It never gets obsoleted, and you don't need to dedicate more space in your house to old consoles so you can play old games - an increasing concern as house prices, at least around here, are skyrocketing and most people settle for smaller homes instead. This is without even considering the potential of streaming services, which surely aren't ready yet, but that doesn't mean they never will be.

Will consoles be loved by no-one? No, there will always be people they are the best option for. There are people arcades are the best option for, but they largely died when consoles came out.

The truth of the matter is, MS and Sony can't afford to bring out a new console every 3-4 years, its too expensive. Consumers can't afford to buy a new console every 3-4 years. Its too expensive. Waiting longer than that, the mobile, PC and handheld market are flying forward at record pace, constantly innovating, and half the time they're something that everyone needs to own anyway, and come with a number of conveniences outside of simply playing games. As money gets scarcer, housing spaces end up smaller, and people enter a world with a growing need for constant connectivity that consoles cannot provide... They're going to slowly lose relevance. It'll take time, wait for this generation to start becoming parents and we might see this starting to happen - so, another 5-10 years at least - but you have to plan for the future. The only way to really keep consoles relevant is to try and have them adapt to the times at low cost - rather than buying a new console every 5 years for $500-$1000, going by recent launch prices around here, the idea is you'd buy a new console for $200, and plug it in instead of having to buy everything again. More space efficient, more price efficient, production efficient, better backwards compatibility... Its not, on the whole, a bad idea. Its more the console market's general attitude towards the idea that makes it unlikely to work, and the likely assumption that there'd be a new 'part' coming out every year or so you'd have to keep up with.
 

votemarvel

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Bob_McMillan said:
When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600

Holy shit, a PC that's 250 bucks more expensive than consoles outperforms them? NO WAY?!
I've just put together a PC with similar spec to a Xbox One Elite for the exact same price, ?400 here in the UK. That includes the Windows license as well.

Brief specs. FX-6300, 4GB RAM, GTX760, 1tb SSHD. Windows 10.

Now I confess that the RAM is less but my goal was to buy new. Had I gone second hand I likely could have shaved a few more pounds off and gotten it up to 8GB of RAM.

My point is however that if you are a smart buyer then you can buy a pretty decent gaming PC for around the same price as a current gen console. Price isn't the barrier that it once was.

To my eyes it simply comes down to the effort people want to take in order to play their games, and yes I am willing to hold my hands up and admit that PC gaming does take that bit more effort.

Yet that gap closes in each generation of consoles. Where once you popped in your game and played on a console, you now have to install and wait for the patches. You can do your office work on a console by using their web browsers to access online office suites (such as those at OneDrive.com).

Consoles are already a hair's breadth from becoming a PC. I can honestly see this as being the last generation where that line exists.

Edit: Why does the forum keep changing the pound symbol to a question mark?
 

JCAll

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Okay, so Microsoft is trying to tank the Xbox. Sounds about right. Hey, Microsoft, before your entire games decision implodes would you mind selling Rare back to Nintendo? That would be great.
 

Dango

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I feel like that's a watering down of what Phil Spencer is saying. It lacks context.

The context, and what I think is more impactful, is that Microsoft are trying to create a shared software environment between Xbox and PC. That's a move that I think is frankly, great for both. That's the goal, and iterations of Xbox hardware is only a means to that.

I think what they're doing is great, just extremely hard to market.
 

Emanuele Ciriachi

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Bob_McMillan said:
Holy shit, a PC that's 250 bucks more expensive than a console is going to outperform it? NO WAY?!

OT: I point you to the Steam machines. Upgradeable consoles have always been a dumb idea and should stay a dumb idea.
Actually, a PC that is cheaper than a console [https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/2a15yh/possible_new_potato_crusher/] will outperform them.
 

Braedan

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Microsoft already has a system with upgradable hardware like the PC. It's called the PC. What the fuck is the point of an upgradable console?

They just want to be able to be the ones selling the hardware. You add hardware upgrades to an Xbox, and it turns into a locked PC with no control input choice, and missing features.