Here's why Microsoft canceled its "Keystone" game console

Here’s why Microsoft canceled its “Keystone” game console

Microsoft's Aqua Shift Xbox Series X/S controller sits in front of a technicolor background.

Image: Microsoft

Earlier this year, it looked like Microsoft would unveil its Xbox Game Pass streaming device, named Keystone, at any time. Fans even thought the company was teasing its release when it mysteriously appeared on a shelf last month. Instead, we have an app exclusive to Samsung Smart TVs. And now, the Xbox maker has finally explained why: it couldn’t bring the price down to $100.

“When you have the $299 Series S, and like during the holidays you’ll see price promotions, I think for a streaming-only box to make sense, the price delta over S needs to be pretty important,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said in an interview on The edgeit is decoder podcast. “I don’t want to announce pricing specifically, but I think you have to be $129, $99, like somewhere in there for it to make sense.”

That price is about double what people are currently paying for TV streaming boxes, and even for Valve’s Steam Link, which allowed home streaming for games running on a PC in another room. But that’s roughly in line with Sony’s older $150 PlayStation TV boxes, which could play Vita games natively while streaming PS3 games via PS Now and PS4 games via Remote Play.

Read more: 9 things we just learned about Xbox, Game Pass, and Microsoft’s future of gaming

Once Microsoft actually built its Keystone prototype with the hardware it wanted to have inside, the company just couldn’t get the math to work, especially since Spencer also wanted it to come with it. an Xbox controller bundle, which usually costs $60 on its own. And as an executive previously revealedMicrosoft is already losing between $100 and $200 on average on every Xbox Series X/S it currently sells (which together were the second best-selling consoles last month).

It’s unfortunate since the Keystone was already built and functional. Spencer said it took the team about nine months to complete the prototype units, which he and others tested. “A bunch of us took it home, and it worked. It worked really, really well,” he said.

The interface was apparently nearly indistinguishable from the current Xbox Series X/S look and feel too. The only difference was that it would be limited to playing games over the cloud and only the ones currently in the Game Pass library.

While streaming technology remains imperfect, especially in our potato internet country, it’s still decent enough at this point to enjoy a lot of new hits and recent classics. Microsoft isn’t counting the idea out entirely, but as Spencer already saidit will likely be years before he backtracks on the idea of ​​a dedicated Game Pass streaming box.

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