The Xbox Series X (shortened to Sexbox) and the apparent existence of the Series S, not to be confused with the entire Xbox One (or Xbone) line prior, seem to be at the perfect position for Microsoft to effectively drop out of the console market, and there are so many reasons for this. I even have suspicions that they were planning to slow down with hardware with this possible last one. At the very least, it would be something to not try to compete head-to-head with Sony directly.
The most sound theory here is their wide-open approach to games. They want games to be playable which are on the Sexbox to also be playable on the Xbone, the PC, and even taking a stab at this cloud gaming thing. They’re also making a big deal out of their all-access pass that allows access to a large number of games for a regular monthly fee. They may even be looking to phase out the paid Xbox Gold subscriptions, or they’re just jacking up the price, or maybe it’ll be a case-by-case basis. The highest level of the all-access pass does have the Xbox Gold thing alongside the incoming cloud service. Compared to Stadia, it does seem to be a better deal, for the sake of being able to download the games instead of just streaming them, plus a much wider library and support for it, but it’s still a subscription. For those who don’t really want to buy a bunch of random games they’re only slightly interested in, it can work, and at least the saves can transfer to an owned copy, possibly even to PC. As far as things transferring, Microsoft even has an open program to allow Xbone copies of games to unlock the Sexbox counterparts, given the publisher is willing to participate.
It feels like a shotgun approach, and they would probably stick to the options that make the most money. If more people use the cloud than the new console, they’ll move toward that. If the PC market really picks up, they won’t go dropping it, hopefully. Seeing as Microsoft mostly owns the PC market anyway, it wouldn’t make sense to ignore it again. If somehow the Sexbox takes off, then they might do another console. Otherwise, that console hardware would just end up being diverted into server hardware, as is their cloud design currently, but more dedicated. While this open approach is better for the customer, it’s worse for hard business, as exclusives seem to drive sales and Microsoft seems to be lacking on ones that appeal to the general audience. Especially since now Sony is going even harder on their previous drive to secure exclusive content that will draw any pre-orders over to the PS5 and its games, even away from the PC.
As exclusives sell, Sony has taken note. While Nintendo probably, even definitely, has the most exclusive series to date, Sony is taking an approach on multi-platform games to compete with Microsoft on both fronts, such as having Spider-Man, alongside a bunch of other random content, be locked to PS5, in some cases temporary but unconfirmed otherwise. I have no idea what the new Avengers game is even supposed to be at this point, but it really seems like it has a major multiplayer component they’re banking on going by the amount and types of locked content that’s being discussed. This will probably also end up extending to the undying Call of Duty series, for the next game which is said to be a Black Ops game. And even beyond that. And as far as exclusive-loving companies go, they may even be in some kind of partnership with Epic, so this may mean something for games that use the Unreal Engine like probably most of the AAA games do these days, as well as where the possible PC ports end up, but nothing’s really been set in stone or announced or otherwise confirmed with viable proof.
If Microsoft was to fall out of the main console market, that would leave just two major players, possibly a spot for a third if they had the money and marketing to do so, but I don’t know of any parties that could possibly get away with it. It may just lead to the soon-to-end console wars being more one-sided than anything, with Sony hitting the core market with all of the games and Nintendo being Nintendo until they somehow run out of money. Maybe Sony would move into the PC market, or partner with Apple for whatever reason, to try to completely destroy Microsoft. If they got Nintendo in the crossfire, that would be allegedly better for them, but most definitely lead to the Second Crash if that didn’t happen prior for similar reasons not involving Sony overtaking everything. I feel the Second Crash would happen sooner, with the Sexbox not doing well at all and the PS5 losing momentum within two years, and the games drying up for the Switch since the publishers would push for the most graphics possible. At the very least this may mean an even harder push toward PC games, given that field hasn’t been torn apart by the launcher wars by then.
If someone wants to be more into conspiracies about this idea of Microsoft dropping out of consoles in this next apparent generation, one should look at Sega. The Xbox was effectively the sequel to the Dreamcast, when Microsoft took Sega’s place, secured a few exclusives for Xbox that would have probably otherwise been on the Dreamcast or even were in some regions, had almost the same controller style, and given their support of the Dreamcast with it having Windows CE support, meant to facilitate PC games being ported there. The Dreamcast was Sega’s last console, and their fourth major worldwide, non-handheld, and non-kids-oriented full console. The Sexbox is Microsoft’s fourth console, as the revisions are being grouped in to one, including both the X and S versions as applicable. If this holds up, then a company that assisted somewhat in the design of the Sexbox would be its successor, to whatever degree that would be.
Even if this whole Sexbox thing does end up going to pieces like I’m suspecting, it doesn’t mean I won’t end up getting one much further out. It sort of depends on which would be a better deal when I’d get a system to play Rare Replay and maybe something else I eventually think of, or if I could just go for a regular Xbone S to get the job done. I can certainly say though that getting a PS5 is going to be quite unlikely for me for a very long time, as I’ve nearly run out of room for consoles in a practical sense, and that thing looks giant. Knowing them, there will be a slim version later. And I have many games to get to as it is, so spending several hundred for a console at launch, possibly more given that possibly-drug-funding scalpers will probably buy up as much as possible, is the furthest from my mind.