The latest rumor regarding the next generation of Xbox consoles suggests that Microsoft's next iteration of the machine is going to offer a streaming-only device, breaking from the current mould for top tier consoles. It's the latest in a long line of whispers regarding Microsoft's move into the next-gen, as with the Xbox One having been on the market for nearly five years it's clear that the company will be wanting to cement its future plans soon.
So far, this next generation of Xbox - known by the codename of Xbox Scarlett - has been subject to plenty of rumors. Perhaps the most interesting is that it could be more than just a single device, with suggestions that Microsoft could be making a family of consoles this time around, much like the current setup of the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X. Meanwhile, it's been hinted that the next Xbox generation will try and make a seamless transition for PC and Xbox players, with Microsoft perhaps already taking this step with keyboard and mouse support.
Something that would potentially align with these goals would be a move purely towards streaming, as suggested by tech website Thurrott. Apparently, while one of these new platforms is going to be a traditional console, complete with next-gen hardware to play games on a local level, the other device that Microsoft is planning is a streaming-only model - one that would come in at a lower price than a standard console.
Exactly how this would work in practice remains to be seen, but Microsoft has been putting a greater emphasis on cloud services of late, with apparently this 'Scarlett Cloud' device having solved previous latency-related issues that have plagued streaming so far. Meanwhile, it's clear that Microsoft sees the Netflix model for video games as a viable option, as seen by the growing Xbox Games Pass options.
However, there could be downsides to this setup. For starters, although internet accessibility has improved greatly in the last few years, there are still plenty of places in core Xbox demographics that would not have reliable enough connections to be certain of being able to play when they wanted. As such, outside of cities it's likely that the traditional device would be preferable, so Microsoft will have to price these devices carefully.
Of course, for now it's worth taking such rumors with a grain of salt until official confirmation is found, but it's certainly an interesting move from Microsoft. Many have wondered about whether streaming would be the way forward, both in terms of ease of use for players and a way to cut down costs for companies, and if Microsoft is planning the Scarlett Cloud then it could be a litmus test for this kind of platform as a whole.