Why it matters: Rumors of Microsoft’s plans for a game-streaming device have circulated since at least 2016, and the company confirmed its efforts towards one more than once over the last couple of years. A recent information drop reveals that work on the device continues but is still a while away from production.
On Thursday, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to Windows Central that the company is still working on a streaming-only device. It is iterating on hardware dedicated to Xbox Cloud Gaming—codenamed Keystone—but isnt ready to unveil it publicly.
This update validates a leak in March showing “Keystone” in a list of Microsoft operating systems. Gaming division head Phil Spencer hinted at Microsoft’s answer to the Chromecast in 2020, and the company confirmed the development of such a device last year. The news followed earlier rumors of a $99 streaming box or stick.
XBOX KEYSTONE pic.twitter.com/warAwisfKh
— Tero Alhonen” (@teroalhonen) March 9, 2022
Currently, Game Pass subscribers can stream games on an Xbox, a mobile device, or nearly any PC. However, Microsoft thinks it can still gain subscribers through hardware that can stream to TVs for a fraction of the price of an Xbox.
The device could become a stick, dongle, or a small set-top box running a version of the Xbox OS. On top of streaming games, it might also support entertainment apps already available on Xbox like Netflix and Apple TV. Whatever Microsoft brings to that market, it’s safe to assume we won’t see it this year.