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Xbox shelves Game Pass streaming stick, dashing hopes of a cheap Xbox alternative
Work on Project Keystone has been halted, as Microsoft pivots resources to developing the Samsung Xbox app
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Xbox streaming shelved
☁ Microsoft has shelved development of the Xbox Streaming Stick
🕹 The device would have let you stream Xbox Game Pass to your TV without needing to buy a console
📺 Xbox boss Phil Spencer says Microsoft has shifted its resources to developing the Samsung streaming app instead
⏳ But he thinks a streaming dongle could appear down the line
Microsoft’s in-development Xbox Streaming Stick has been shelved, as the company shifts focus to expanding its Samsung streaming app instead.
The device, codenamed Keystone, would have allowed you to stream games through Xbox Cloud Gaming directly to your TV, without needing to splash out on an Xbox Series X|S. It looked to offer a more affordable way of accessing Xbox Game Pass for those who don’t already own a console.
Speaking at WSJ Live 2022, however, head of Xbox Phil Spencer said development of the device has been halted.
“Keystone was the name of something we were incubating internally,” Spencer said, as reported by The Verge journalist Tom Warren. “Think of it as a streaming console. There’s no local play, it’s low cost, plug it into the television and you’d be able to stream to the television the Xbox games that are available.
“We instead, back in late spring, pivoted to working with Samsung. We put an app on Samsung TVs that lets you play Xbox games.”
He added: “Will we do a streaming device at some point? I suspect we will, but I think it’s years away.”
The Samsung Xbox app was released in June earlier this year. It lets anyone with a 2022 Samsung smart TV, and an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership, stream some of the best Xbox Series X games directly to their television using Xbox Cloud Gaming. The only hardware they need is a Bluetooth controller.
The ill-fated streaming stick could have been a game changer, drastically lowering the financial barrier of entry to modern, triple-A gaming. No need to shell out on an expensive console, you’d have only needed to buy the dongle and have a Game Pass subscription.
Given the low price at which other TV streaming devices are sold, such as the Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick, it’s likely the Keystone would have also been sold for cheap. Manufacturers of streaming dongles tend to entice consumers with low upfront costs and rely on subscription fees to make a return.
Although the device has been shelved, Spencer didn’t rule out the possibility that Microsoft would bring the Xbox streaming app to more TV manufacturers in the future.
“Giving people choice – whether they want to play on their tablet, whether they want to play on their smart TV, play on their Xbox, play on a PC – we think that’s really critical to where we’re going,” he said during the conference. Here’s hoping Microsoft soon recognizes consumers’ choice of TV manufacturer.
The prospect of a cheap streaming device could become more appealing if Microsoft raises the price of the Xbox Series X|S and Xbox Game Pass in the future. Phil Spencer suggested price hikes could come next year, following Sony’s decision to increase the PS5’s price outside the US.
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