While industry-leading video game consoles remain a big part of Xbox’s toolkit, future growth will rely on new markets. With Xbox Game Pass as a vehicle, Microsoft can grow its gaming aspirations beyond the slim margins of the home console, expanding across PC, and crucially, into our pockets, via cloud-based delivery on Android and iOS devices.
All of this remains anchored in Xbox consoles, though. Cloud games are built to be console-first, with UI scaled for TV, controls that are gamepad-first, and cameras that assume a larger screen space at a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Microsoft does have an API for building “cloud-aware” games, which can present differently if a smaller screen is detected, complete with bespoke touch controls. This API will improve over time, as will the uptake from developers, but a dedicated Xbox-style “handheld” could solve the UX gap in one fell swoop.
I’ve always thought of the Nintendo Switch as the ultimate Xbox Game Pass cloud device. It’s the perfect screen size, has two separate controllers for split-screen co-op games, and the joysticks are even offset Xbox-style. Alas, whether or not Nintendo would allow a version of Xbox Game Pass to grace its platform is firmly up