DF Weekly: Is Microsoft right to rule out an Xbox Series ‘pro’ console?

Has Microsoft ruled out an upgraded version of the Xbox Series X console as a mid-generation upgrade for the existing line-up of consoles? According to an interview with Bloomberg, Xbox chief Phil Spencer doesn’t ‘feel an imperative’ to deliver a more powerful machine, saying ‘right now, we’re set on the hardware we have’.

This is the primary discussion point for this week’s DF Direct Weekly – and based on how the console generation has developed in its first 2.5 years, it’s difficult to argue against the Xbox team’s thinking. Microsoft itself has only just finished developing for the last generation Xbox One console and across the industry, developers and publishers are finally letting go of the older hardware. Meanwhile, technologies designed specifically for the current consoles are at last arriving: across the summer, we should start to see the first game to utilise Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 technology. If we’ve yet to see what the current wave of consoles can actually do, is there actually an imperative to deliver a more powerful machine?

In the Bloomberg interview, Spencer also talks about ‘feedback’ suggesting that such a machine probably isn’t a good idea – but what can that feedback actually be? Creating a console takes several years, so either a new machine was developed and canned in the meantime based on this feedback or else Spencer’s taking a look at the last-gen base vs enhanced console split, which was around 80/20 in favour of the cheaper, less capable machine. Was that 20 percent of users just too low to be worth the effort of going through the console development cycle again? Is it even possible to deliver a meaningful upgrade within the next couple of years?

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