Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has promised that the Xbox One X represents a world beyond console generations- but the question on the minds of many has been, just how enforceable is such a mandate, anyway? Is Microsoft meaning to never release a true, next gen Xbox system? What happens if Sony releases a PS5? Will Microsoft continue to put out iterative Xbox One systems on the market?
Speaking about this topic with IGN, Microsoft’s Albert Penello said that Microsoft doesn’t think that console generations are coming to an end- but rather, that generations will maintain compatibility.
“That’s the question we’ll have to see how it goes,” he said in an interview with IGN. “I mean, part of it is, this is a grand new experiment that both us and Sony are on with this concept. And right now, we have to sort of build trust that the stuff you’re buying will work, that this ecosystem will make sense for people, for developers, and that is what will inform what happens next.
“But I think there will always be step changes in technology. I don’t think we’ve ever said that console generations go away because of this idea. But I do think that it changes the nature of how you think about compatibility, which has always been an afterthought for the most part on consoles… there have been some who have done a great job of it, but we’re doubling down on it, going back even further. And Phil said this a lot… we’re making a huge effort for backward compatibility. A lot of the stuff you saw, the tools that we are doing for 360, are tools that were necessary to make Xbox One, S, and X games compatible. We’re building a lot of that strength in software to do that.”
He added that the next Xbox console, should it exist, will probably be compatible with the Xbox One family of hardware, since that is an area of huge importance to Microsoft going forward.
“So I think compatibility will be a more important focus. And then, there will be step changes in hardware, there will be evolutions. I am not sure what the next thing will look like, but I would certainly say we are doubling down on our commitment to compatibility, we will try to keep it compatible with our existing library of games, that is super important to us.”
Now, to be clear, Microsoft has implied that the Xbox One X represents the start of a world beyond console generations in as many words plenty of times before- but I am willing to consider that they will still consider discrete generations with rolling hardware, simply because that makes the most sense for them (and for game creators and console owners, too). As for what the inevitable Xbox 4 will look like? Well, hopefully we find out in the next 3-4 years.