Next-Gen Xbox Preview: Everything You Need to Know About the Console and Crypto Plans - Decrypt

Next-Gen Xbox Preview: Everything You Need to Know About the Console and Crypto Plans – Decrypt

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It’s been almost four years since the release of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, a pair of game consoles that offer different performance and price options for players. But Microsoft is already thinking about the next big thing in Xbox land.

Unsurprisingly, a next-generation Xbox is already in development, But what is surprising is that we’ve already heard official details on how Microsoft plans to position it, thanks to documents that were accidentally shared publicly in the FTC’s case against Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. And there could be a crypto wallet in the mix.

Furthermore, Microsoft is starting to comment publicly about what it plans to do with its upcoming hardware, promising a massive leap in performance for the next-generation Xbox.

Granted, things may change in the coming months and years, but if you’re looking for the latest leaks and reports about the next Xbox console, it turns out Microsoft itself was the best possible source. Here’s what we know so far, and be sure to stay tuned for future updates.

What is the Next-Gen Xbox?

The next-gen Xbox will be the fifth generation of Microsoft’s console, following the original Xbox (2001), the Xbox 360 (2006), the Xbox One (2013), and the aforementioned Xbox Series X and Series S (2020) hardware.

While it was reasonable to assume that Microsoft would continue making new hardware in the future, we got our first taste of the tech giant’s plans in September 2023 when it uploaded unredacted documents to a public repository for the FTC case. Microsoft was apparently at fault for the issue, not the court, and Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted about the fallout.

“We’ve seen the conversation around old emails and documents,” he wrote. “It is hard to see our team’s work shared in this way because so much has changed and there’s so much to be excited about right now, and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.”

When will the Next-Gen Xbox come out?

According to Microsoft’s leaked documents, the next-generation Xbox is targeted to be released during the 2028 calendar year—eight years after the previous console. This marks a longer console cycle than we’ve seen from Microsoft in the past, which has seen seven years between major hardware launches in the last two cycles.

There is no pricing estimate yet at this point, potentially five years before the hardware is expected to release.

How powerful will the Next-Gen Xbox be?

It’s too early to tell how significant of a power bump we’ll see from the new Xbox compared to the Xbox Series X, but what is interesting is how Microsoft is approaching the device.

According to its leaked documents, Microsoft sees a model in which games run with both local and cloud computing power in a hybrid model. We’ve seen hints of this before, particularly with the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator game, which pumps in cloud-powered real-time weather while the game otherwise runs on your local PC or Xbox hardware.

Slide showing text that explains history of Xbox consoles, with the last entry being an unnamed console set to release in 2028.
Image: Microsoft.

But five years from now, Microsoft appears to think that it can pull this off on a larger scale, pairing home hardware with a boost from remote servers as a more standardized hybrid model across Xbox games.

“Our vision: develop a next-generation hybrid game platform capable of leveraging the combined power of the client and cloud to deliver deeper immersion and entirely new classes of game experiences,” the Microsoft documents read. “Optimized for real-time gameplay and creators, we will enable new levels of performance beyond the capabilities of the client hardware alone.”

The documents suggest that Microsoft needed to make some key hardware decisions by the first quarter of 2023, including the CPU makeup and how it will either co-design or license an AMD GPU. Where the company landed on those choices remains unclear.

Ultimately, Microsoft wants a device that can handle “next-gen DirectX ray tracing” for realistic lighting effects, plus “dynamic global illumination,” “micropolygon rendering optimizations,” and “machine learning-based super resolution.”

Image: Microsoft

In other words, yes, the next-gen Xbox will surely be more powerful, although Microsoft may still be weighing the details. Or they haven’t all leaked just yet. Furthermore, the documents spell out a number of timelines for hardware, games, and software, suggesting a detailed roadmap for the various pieces that make up the Xbox experience.

In February 2024, Microsoft made its first public statements about how powerful the next-generation Xbox will be. In an official podcast episode used to announce that Microsoft will start releasing some exclusive Xbox games on Nintendo and PlayStation hardware as well, Xbox President Sara Bond planted a flag in the ground for the next console.

“We’re also invested in the next-generation roadmap,” Bond said, according to Eurogamer. “What we’re really focused on there is delivering the largest technical leap that you will have ever seen in a hardware generation.”

At the Xbox Games Showcase on June 9, Bond also affirmed that Microsoft is working on the “next generation” of Xbox.

Will crypto be involved?

Based on the leaked roadmap, which is dated May 2022—yes, there actually is a crypto wallet planned for Microsoft’s next console ecosystem. A slide that was unintentionally published by Microsoft as part of the FTC case mentions “crypto wallet” as part of the commerce stack. Axios first reported the crypto wallet plans.

Chart showing Xbox's next-generation console platform plans, including "crypto wallet" under the "commerce" section.
Image: Microsoft/FTC.

It’s also labeled as something that Microsoft will create itself, rather than plug in a third-party or existing feature, although it’s still unclear whether Microsoft will develop a full wallet itself or simply create an integration that lets users plug in existing wallets (like MetaMask).

That’s all we know right now, and Microsoft declined to comment and simply pointed to Phil Spencer’s aforementioned tweet. It’s worth noting that the presentation was made about a week before the crypto market crashed in May 2022 due to the Terra collapse, so it’s unclear whether Microsoft may have reevaluated its plans amid the ongoing bear market.

What games will the Next-Gen Xbox have?

It’s too early to tell at this point. However, Microsoft has consistently put an emphasis on game compatibility across generations with recent console cycles, matching a PC-like philosophy of being able to play your existing games even after you buy new hardware.

Microsoft has also emphasized its Xbox Game Pass subscription service in recent years, and the leaked documents similarly point to expectations that Microsoft will be able to grow its subscription base in the years to come. Part of that will come via the launch of a cloud-driven app for smart TVs, broadening the player base even further.

In any case, it’s quite likely that Microsoft’s own core franchises like Halo and Forza Motorsport will continue to new hardware, along with IP owned by its studios like Bethesda (including The Elder Scrolls and Doom) and Activision (Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot), the latter of which it acquired last fall.

Is there other Xbox hardware coming sooner?

Yes! At the Xbox Games Showcase, Microsoft revealed a trio of hardware revisions due out later this year for the holiday season: a 1TB Xbox Series S ($350), an all-digital Xbox Series X with no disc drive and 1TB storage ($450), and a 2TB “Galaxy Black” Xbox Series X with disc drive ($600).

Interestingly, these aren’t the revisions we expected, and Microsoft didn’t mention various upgrades that had been leaked in advance. In addition to the next-gen Xbox hardware, Microsoft’s unredacted documents in 2023 also pointed to revisions of its Xbox Series X and Series S consoles that were reportedly planned for release in 2024.

Image showing cylindrical black Brooklin Series X console with information about its improved energy efficiency, speakers, and WiFi.
Image: Microsoft.

These “mid-gen” hardware revisions were expected to bring modest enhancements to the hardware, along with a physical redesign for the Xbox Series X edition.

The refreshed Xbox Series X, codenamed “Brooklin,” will be a fully digital revision that will most likely coexist alongside the current version that has a disc drive. Unlike the rectangular Series X model we have now, this version will take a cylindrical approach and ditch the optical disc drive.

Alleged leaked photos of the new Xbox Series X revision
Alleged leaked photos of the new Xbox Series X revision. Image: Exputer

But Microsoft’s design plans apparently changed. On March 27, 2024, Exputer published alleged leaked photos of the new all-digital Xbox Series X revision that looks pretty much exactly like the current model—but with no disc drive, and this version (at least) comes in white instead of black. Notably, it’s not a cylinder. The Verge reported seeing additional related documents pertaining to the model that made the publication believe that this is the real deal.

Image showing an Xbox controller called "Sebile," which has a white top half and a black lower half.
Image: Microsoft.

The “Brooklin” version of the Xbox Series X, according to Microsoft’s earlier leaked documents, was supposed to have double the internal storage at 2TB to hold more games, faster Wi-Fi support, and use less power to operate, plus come with a new gamepad with improved haptic feedback, quieter buttons, and motion controls. The revised Xbox Series X was targeted for October 2024 at the same $499 price as the current model.

Image showing white Xbox Series S Ellewood edition console, with text promising improved storage and WiFi.
Image: Microsoft.

Meanwhile, the upgraded Xbox Series S, codenamed “Ellewood,” was expected to use the same design as the current model with the same kinds of upgrades—more storage (1TB), faster Wi-Fi, lower power demands, and an enhanced controller.

But from what Microsoft just announced at the showcase, it’s unclear whether the actual revised consoles will have the Wi-Fi, power, and controller upgrades. Stay tuned for more details as these revised consoles approach release.

Editor’s note: This article was first published on September 26, 2023 and last updated with new information on June 9, 2024.

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