Xbox Head Accidentally Unveils Its Game Streaming Device

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Microsoft’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer just wanted to post a picture of his nifty swag shelf on Twitter, but he ended up revealing an unreleased prototype. The slim white box atop Spencer’s shelf appears to be the company’s Xbox Cloud Gaming box. Microsoft announced in 2021 that it was planning to release the streaming product, but it was never seen in the flesh. The official Xbox account followed up to confirm that, yes, this is a piece of prototype hardware Spencer probably should have moved before taking the pic.

Following a leak last year, Microsoft confirmed the existence of a device known as Keystone. As originally envisioned, the box would look a bit like a smaller Xbox Series S. It was not a full-fledged gaming device but rather a portal to Xbox Cloud Gaming. Simply plug it into your TV, connect to the internet, and start streaming. However, the meat of that story was that Microsoft had decided to scrap the current hardware iteration and start from scratch. We never saw the real hardware until now.

Spencer ostensibly posted the image to Twitter to show off some Fallout 25th-anniversary memorabilia. The shelf contains a lot of other items, like a custom Alan Wake Xbox 360, the Logitech G Cloud handheld that will launch this month, and a sword (presumably for “encouraging” engineers). Right below the sword is the aforementioned Keystone box. The Twitterverse immediately keyed in on that, forcing an acknowledgment from the company. “Now what did we say about putting old prototypes on your shelf boss,” the Xbox account replied about a few hours later.

Most of the games on Microsoft’s increasingly important Xbox Game Pass service are download-only, but more and more are arriving with cloud streaming. Similar to services like Nvidia GeForce Now and the now-defunct Stadia, Xbox Cloud Gaming renders the games on a remote server and then streams the video to devices like the Xbox and smartphones.

Google Stadia had its fair share of problems, most of which Google seemed uninterested in fixing or even understanding, but one thing it got right was the Comcast integration. With a $50 dongle, you could instantly play Stadia games on your TV in 4K HDR, saving you from buying a console or squinting to play games on your phone screen. Microsoft lacks a similar device, but now it has room to implement it the right way. We’re not sure how much the final version of Keystone will resemble this prototype, but at least we have a frame of reference now.

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