Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has reiterated that the company has no plans at this time to release a “mid-gen” console before the next big Xbox system comes out. Speaking to Eurogamer, Spencer said he understands why people are asking this, in part because there is a belief among some people that every game should run at 4K/60fps and the current hardware can’t deliver this.
But the problem, Spencer said, is that too many hardware refreshes can create issues for developers. Not only that, but multiple console refreshes before the next big step up makes a platform like Xbox more akin to PC, and Spencer doesn’t want to go that route.
“And it starts to feel a lot more like PC–which is clearly a good ecosystem that’s healthy, but then I’m like, ‘Okay, well, what’s the difference then between console and PC, if we’re in this mode of every two years, a new GPU comes out, or CPU?’ And there’s a bunch of things,” he said.
“If we get into a console world where, every two years, we now have three or four closed ecosystems that are upgrading their hardware every two years, I’m gonna wonder: ‘How is that helping creators or players?'” Spencer added. “To me it feels like we are creating a ton of complexity for creators and players in something that used to be very simple. And maybe there’s another model for us.”
Spencer went on to say that he wonders if the “strict definition” of a console generation as it’s known today will continue to relevant in the future. He said systems like the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X aren’t exactly a full step up but still represent gains over previous hardware iterations.
“Take PC as an example. We don’t really talk about the latest AMD and Nvidia GPUs as part of a generation. We see it as more continuous than step function,” he said. “And there’s some advantages to step function, I get it. There’s also a ton of advantages to being more continuous in terms of compatibility, game preservation, and an openness of those platforms. So I’m curious how that plays out.”
Microsoft will continue to make more Xbox consoles in the future, but will they represent the “step function” of, for example, the shift from Xbox 360 to Xbox One, or Xbox One to Xbox Series X|S? Spencer says he doesn’t know. “I’m wondering if this notion of step function is just going to hold in the console or is it going to be more continuous,” he said.
Spencer is not saying anything very surprising here. When the Xbox Series X|S was announced, Spencer made it clear that the system generation was simply called “Xbox” and that Series X and S denoted the specific models, not unlike what Apple does with its iPhone line.
The next hardware launch from Microsoft is the 1 TB Xbox Series S that comes in black. The console launches on September 1 in time for Starfield, priced at $350.