Microsoft planning to kill the Xbox? Maybe, and that is a good thing

Microsoft's Phil Spencer hints at Xbox as a service, to focus more on Windows. Is this the end of the Xbox?

Microsoft's Xbox spring event was something of a stepping stone. We might have just witnessed the end of an era, an era where consoles reigned supreme.

The event was hosted by Xbox head, Phil Spencer, who said that, “At Xbox we believe gamers should be able to play the games they want, with the people they want, on the devices they want. Making more of our popular games available for gamers to play on either Xbox One or Windows 10, each powered by Xbox Live, is another important step towards this vision. We are committed to delivering amazing gaming experiences for gamers who play on consoles, PCs or both.”

Reading between the lines, we finally see the Windows platform getting some love. Quantum Break is all set for a simultaneous release on PC and console, Gears of War Ultimate is already out on the Windows Store and Forza Motorsport 6: Apex is going to be free-to-play on PC. You can read about the highlights from the conference here.

These are just pointers of course, but the biggest hint was dropped by Phil himself in a twitter conversation with @The_CrapGamer. The conversation itself revolved around around Quantum Break not being an Xbox exclusive. Deep within that conversation however, was mention of a future, as described by Phil himself, of a future where the Xbox might end up as a service rather than a hardware line. He also spoke of a future where the Xbox hardware could be upgraded, similar to a PC.

This is exciting news, and something I've been hoping for since long before the Xbox One was announced. There was a time when consoles made a lot of sense, when a gaming PC meant investing a ridiculous amount of time and money into the platform. Over the years however, this need has come down drastically. For gamers, the need of the hour is pixels and horsepower and consoles like the Xbox One and PS4 just can't keep up. Upgrade options might help, but then you might as well be on PC.

Both console platforms effectively use low-end PC hardware and struggle to push out 30fps at 1080p, let alone 2K which is the bare minimum for VR. 4K is quite literally impossible. At the same time, the 8-year upgrade cycle for a console platform is just not going to cut it anymore. Think about it, in 8 years we've gone from the Pentium Dual-Core to the 6th generation Skylakes.

I am a PC gamer at heart and there are very good reasons for me wanting a game console. Those reasons are Bloodborne, Gears of War, Halo, Zelda and Mario. The platform has nothing to do with the experience and I'd rather play those games on a device of my choosing than restrict all my future gaming to that platform for cost considerations.

The whole point of the Windows platform is freedom of choice. I don't need to pay for multiplayer ($60 on Xbox Live for example), I don't need to suffer games at 30fps and 900p and I can get a lot more done with a PC. If Microsoft is really looking at Xbox as a service, they're finally doing the right thing.

Developers will be able to focus on a single platform (x86), we'll finally see some better AI (processing power is a major bottleneck on a console) and nobody'll talk about 60fps as if it's a big deal. For the advancement of gaming and the betterment of gamers, the console needs to die.

Hardcore console gamers are going to be up in arms over this, but face it, the Xbox One and PS4 are simply not adequate as gaming platforms anymore, and they're only three years old.

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