Xbox has planned an add-on to play without video games. Is it the end of the console?

This is a rotating and moving theme that returns to the spotlight: the death of video game consoles. And again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes.

The first step in that direction was the launch of Xbox Cloud Gaming in September 2021. The service, known as XCloud, allows you to use mobile phones, tablets, and even Xbox consoles to play streaming devices.

But don’t confuse it with services like Xbox Game Pass, the new PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo Switch Online. In these, the monthly subscription entitles you to download any title from a predefined library, whether in a video game or on a computer. In xCloud, nothing is downloaded. The game runs on remote servers and the player’s device is only responsible for displaying the game on the screen and transmitting commands.

This in itself would preclude the use of the console, but Microsoft intends to go further. Their latest prototype is a device called Keystone, which connects to a TV and communicates directly with xCloud. it would be something like that Chromecast, Fire TV Stick from Google or Amazon – but for games rather than movies and series.

This way, it would be possible to be very close to the experience gained from using the console, but without having to buy the device or use wires and connections.

The Keystone was an old rumor, but when an anonymous source confirmed it area Windows Central. “Our goal is to let people play the games they want, on the devices they want, wherever they want,” he said. He did not give a release date.

More and more “services”

World of Warcraft: A successful example of “gaming as a service”

Image: Playback / WoWHead

Although it may seem like a revolutionary step, Keystone is an example of a trend we’ve seen in recent years: the idea of ​​treating games as a service, not as a “property”. Many years ago, games like World of Warcraft adopted the “pay subscription, not the game” business model.

The Xbox Game Pass continues in the same direction. Since 2020, it has been even bolder, including several games, since its launch, ending with one of the main distinguishing features of individual games. Consumers are faced with an enticing question: should they pay around R $ 299 for a single game in their debut, or R $ 29.99 per month for access to multiple games, including this novelty they want?

Of course, the Xbox Game Pass did not end its individual sales. With a diverse library, there are those who don’t find their favorite available. And access isn’t “permanent”: if you unsubscribe, or Microsoft decides to unsubscribe, you may lose it. (Generally available for about a year.)

However, the service had a huge impact on the industry, and the PlayStation competitor, which created such an undeniable trend, had to adapt. His PS Plus subscription plan took the same format as his rival. In Brazil, this update will arrive on June 13th.

In countries like Brazil, where buying a new game costs almost the same as a one-year subscription, this type of subscription helps to democratize access and strengthen independent production.

Windows 11 screen for Xbox Game Pass - Outline / Microsoft - Outline / Microsoft

Windows 11 screen for Xbox Game Pass

Image: Disclosure / Microsoft

Goodbye to video games?

Does the release of Microsoft Keystone have the potential to go beyond the influence of the Xbox Game Pass? Is this more of a trend and, yes, a revolution that breaks the cycle that started the Odyssey, the first home video game device 50 years ago?

If it arrives at a much more attractive price than the console and has a massive reception, the console is unlikely to stop. And for some reason.

One of them is that a large portion of consumers are still looking for a more traditional experience, which leads to ownership of video gaming and gaming. The industry has been selling digital games for years, but they are an explanation that has never stopped the release of physical versions.

In addition, streaming is not yet able to play the same experience as a console or computer. Other issues include, for example, a significant delay between the time the player commands the controller and the response of the game character to the command. It’s something that’s unthinkable in most games, but it can annoy more demanding players, especially in titles that require more precision, such as shooting, racing, rhythm, and fighting games.

Attempting to integrate video games into other devices is not a new idea, albeit with different approaches — and, of course, limited to the technologies of the time.

Japanese Sharp released Sharp Nintendo Television in 1983, which is a 14- or 19-inch TV and a Famicom (NES, known here as Nintendinho). In 1990, it introduced the Super Famicom Naizou TV SF1, which had a 14- or 21-inch screen and included a Super Famicom (the Japanese version of Super Nintendo).

Super Famicom Naizou TV SF1 - Wikimedia Commons - Wikimedia Commons

Super Famicom Naizou TV SF1 had a Super Famicom and stood out for its practicality and image quality.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Both produced better quality images traditionally than a cable video game. And of course, they saved space and removed the wires. However, they were never made known.

Sony also tested the PSX (or PlayStation X) in 2003. It was a kind of multimedia center with several functions such as DVD recording, TV signal tuning and the ability to store multimedia files. And it was also a PlayStation 2, one of the most popular consoles of all time. Connect two PS2 controllers and insert the game disc.

In practice, however, the PSX was limited to Japan and did not last long. It was discontinued in 2005.

PSX PS2 - Playback - Playback

Sony’s PSX was a bet on being “all in one”: it was a DVD recorder and player, it tuned in to the TV, and it worked like a PS2.

Image: Reproduction

Finally, there is a basic problem: since it is Microsoft’s job, Keystone should be limited to having only one interface for xCloud.

Sony and Nintendo may release their own versions in the future, but until that happens (if it does), fans of well-known franchises like God of War and Mario will still have to turn to these manufacturers’ consoles (or a computer). case). Some Sony games).

This is not to say that Keystone is doomed to failure, quite the opposite. The idea of ​​democratizing, making it cheaper, and most importantly, facilitating access to gaming is a great move by Microsoft, as it is consolidating its position as a leading company in the industry.

If the launch is confirmed, Keystone has everything to take an innovative step in the industry, but it’s still too early to say that a mid-century industry is capable of a complete revolution.

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