Phil Spencer is very interested in an Xbox handheld

Microsoft gaming CEO Phil Spencer is enthusiastic about an Xbox handheld experience, but that could range from a dedicated handheld to a customized app.

2 minutes & 31 seconds read time

Microsoft gaming CEO Phil Spencer is very interested in the possibility of Xbox on-the-go, whether that means an official Xbox handheld or highly-customized mobile software.

Phil Spencer is very interested in an Xbox handheld 5

With multiple devices like the ASUS ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go, and Valve's Steam Deck, handheld PCs have emerged as a new nascent gaming platform to market and monetize. The Nintendo Switch arguably was the pioneer in the console-handheld space, but portable chip technology is now powerful enough to deliver playable, console-ish quality gaming while on-the-go. Tech-wise, it seems like a good time for Sony and Microsoft to start thinking about a PlayStation or Xbox handheld.

Sony's $199 PlayStation Portable selling like hotcakes may dissuade the company from making a costly dedicated handheld device, but what about Xbox? Phil Spencer is psyched for Xbox handheld gaming, but as is usually the case, there's a lot of ambiguity in what's said about Xbox's future. An Xbox handheld experience could range from a fully-fledged dedicated handheld device that natively plays Xbox console games Xbox app that's optimized for Windows handhelds.

In a new interview with Polygon, Spencer talked a lot about what Xbox should be like on a handheld, but there was one snippet that caught my eye the most:

"What should we build that will find new players, that will allow people to play at times when they couldn't go play [before]?" Spencer had said in regards to new Xbox hardware.

Recent reports indicate that Xbox is currently experimenting with handheld prototype devices.

Technically, Xbox console games have been playable on-the-go via xCloud on mobile devices (and not to mention both natively as Windows PC games and Xcloud streaming). Both of these solutions have also undoubtedly found new players that may not have been able to play before.

At the same time, Xbox console owners haven't ever been able to bring their full library of games to an on-the-go form factor. Depending on costs, Microsoft may opt to make a portable Xbox in an attempt make a splash in the handheld space. In previous predictions, I said that the future of Xbox could be fragmented across multiple devices in an effort to capture multiple endpoints (or more places to sell games, services, and content).

As far as the Xbox handheld experience as an app goes, Spencer said this:

"I want my Lenovo Legion Go to feel like an Xbox. I'm on the airplane and I have this list of everything that makes it not feel like an Xbox. Forget about the brand, more like 'Are all of my games there? Do all my games show up with the saves that I want?'

"I want to be able to boot into the Xbox app in a full screen, but in a compact mode. And all of my social [experience] is there. Like I want it to feel like the dash of my Xbox when I turn on the television."

So yeah, we should be getting some sort of dedicated Xbox app for handhelds.

While Microsoft has confirmed it isn't giving up on consoles, and the next Xbox will have the largest jump in technical innovations of any generation before it, we might see Xbox make a risky move into the growing handheld market in a bid to serve more customers and carry its console audience forward to a new medium.

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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