Microsoft Wants Xbox to be Upgradable Like a PC

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Microsoft Wants Xbox to be Upgradable Like a PC

Xbox One console

Microsoft's Phil Spencer argues that consoles could and should be upgradable, just like a PC.

Microsoft has been making big pushes recently to unify both Windows PC and Xbox One gaming. At an event last week, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said the company is aiming to align its Windows 10 and Xbox One development activities under the internal "Universal Windows Platform" while offering backwards compatibility for many Xbox 360 games, now playable on Xbox One. But that's not all: Spencer's vision for the future includes an Xbox with upgradable hardware, just like a PC, meaning that gamers will be able to incrementally upgrade their console throughout its lifespan.

"We see on other platforms whether it be mobile or PC that you get a continuous innovation that you rarely see on console," he said. "Consoles lock the hardware and the software platforms together at the beginning of the generation. Then you ride the generation out for seven or so years, while other ecosystems are getting better, faster, stronger. And then you wait for the next big step function."

"I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we've ever seen," said Spencer, suggesting that Xbox One owners could be offered optional hardware upgrades in the future, thus finally putting an end to console generations.

"We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me. Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don't have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before."

As for the "why" behind this big move, in an interview with Polygon, Spencer stated "It used to be that when you bought your console you were way ahead of the price performance curve by so much, relative to a PC. But now PCs are inexpensive and your phones are getting more and more capable."

When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600... well, he isn't wrong!

Source: Polygon

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Huh, and here I thought we've already had consoles with upgradeable parts for the longest time. I think they're called PC's...

This is how consoles die. Making consoles upgrade able has no upside over PC's and it fragments the market. I suspect what Microsoft wants is to rein in PC's, to make them more locked down like consoles. No doubt the locked down nature of consoles has spoiled them since they launched the original Xbox.

If Microsoft comes out with a new Xbox that's upgradeable, but also has all of its games available to play on Windows 10, then what's the point? I already have a PC.

Well, whilst his remarks confirm to me he's one of the most honest and sensible people in the biz - in that he's openly and brazenly recognising why consoles are problematic - I'm not sure MS can really achieve what he might like to see happen.

Speaking just for myself, I'd love the XB1 to morph into what the Steam Machine should've been; a dedicated, simple, front-room console/media hub with the perks of hardware iteration. But I can't see it happening this gen.

You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.

Dedicated hardware solely for playing games is an outdated concept. Glory to the PC Master Race!

When I start thinking of an upgrade-able console, Sega comes to mind. It wasn't a good idea then and it's not a good idea now.

I suspect this is a reaction to the Xbone being at the bottom of the hardware food chain right now and a desire to avoid that in future.

This way, they can put a relative lack of performance on the consumer's head instead of their own. It also opens the way for a Xbox branded PC and even further Win 10 'integration,' as they like to call it.

Given the hardware and software disaster that is gaming on the Win 10store I would prefer this not to happen.

When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600... well, he isn't wrong!

Holy shit, a PC that's 250 bucks more expensive than a console is going to outperform it? NO WAY?!

OT: I point you to the Steam machines. Upgradeable consoles have always been a dumb idea and should stay a dumb idea.

Please don't.

I am a console gamer because I know exactly what I'm getting and will have no problems with it (unless the game company done fucked up of course but that's something I can see ahead of time). Some of those ideas they've flirted with in the past are bad enough

If you take away all the advantages that the console has (a list that seems to dwindle as these guys "innovate" with ideas like always online and whatnot), then I might as well just get a PC and stop buying the console.

Pyrian:
You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.

My thoughts exactly. One advantage of consoles is that I don't have to ask if my PS4 can play this PS4 game. I know it can. Because it's a PS4. With PC gaming there is the question of if your system can even play the game. And even if it can, there are questions of performance. There is nothing wrong with PC gaming. But there is no reason to go that route with consoles.

WeepingAngels:
When I start thinking of an upgrade-able console, Sega comes to mind. It wasn't a good idea then and it's not a good idea now.

I remember when the Nintendo 64 had an expansion slot for extra system RAM. I thought that was a good idea.

As a PC Master Race'er, I would suggest keeping consoles as consoles. While I applaud Microsoft releasing game on both their console and PC, I must point out the the new Windows Store app is almost as bad as Games For Windows Live.

When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600

Holy shit, a PC thats 250 bucks more expensive than consoles outperforms them? NO WAY?!

OT: Steam Machines, just look at them. Never a good idea, because we all know even if there was a good way to do it, Microsoft or Sony would still mess it up.

Pyrian:
You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.

At the same time, its the reason they're eventually going to die, and this guy recognises that.

Why would I buy a console? For a quarter of the price I can buy a handheld with similar capabilities. My phone which I have to buy anyway is reaching similar capabilities, and its only so long before someone gets the bright idea of a phone accessory console controller.
Mobile devices are also cheaper & easier to develop for than consoles generally, with a much larger market. As they become more and more powerful, every year advancing closer to console-level power, more 'hardcore' companies are likely to go to the mobile market, and begin to learn its design quirks to create experiences there.
And for the big screen stay at home experience? PCs. Most people need to own one anyway. For $200 you can turn it into a full on gaming rig. Without that $200 it'll still play most games competently. You can plug it into anything you want. You have the single widest selection of games. It never gets obsoleted, and you don't need to dedicate more space in your house to old consoles so you can play old games - an increasing concern as house prices, at least around here, are skyrocketing and most people settle for smaller homes instead. This is without even considering the potential of streaming services, which surely aren't ready yet, but that doesn't mean they never will be.

Will consoles be loved by no-one? No, there will always be people they are the best option for. There are people arcades are the best option for, but they largely died when consoles came out.

The truth of the matter is, MS and Sony can't afford to bring out a new console every 3-4 years, its too expensive. Consumers can't afford to buy a new console every 3-4 years. Its too expensive. Waiting longer than that, the mobile, PC and handheld market are flying forward at record pace, constantly innovating, and half the time they're something that everyone needs to own anyway, and come with a number of conveniences outside of simply playing games. As money gets scarcer, housing spaces end up smaller, and people enter a world with a growing need for constant connectivity that consoles cannot provide... They're going to slowly lose relevance. It'll take time, wait for this generation to start becoming parents and we might see this starting to happen - so, another 5-10 years at least - but you have to plan for the future. The only way to really keep consoles relevant is to try and have them adapt to the times at low cost - rather than buying a new console every 5 years for $500-$1000, going by recent launch prices around here, the idea is you'd buy a new console for $200, and plug it in instead of having to buy everything again. More space efficient, more price efficient, production efficient, better backwards compatibility... Its not, on the whole, a bad idea. Its more the console market's general attitude towards the idea that makes it unlikely to work, and the likely assumption that there'd be a new 'part' coming out every year or so you'd have to keep up with.

Bob_McMillan:

When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600

Holy shit, a PC that's 250 bucks more expensive than consoles outperforms them? NO WAY?!

I've just put together a PC with similar spec to a Xbox One Elite for the exact same price, ?400 here in the UK. That includes the Windows license as well.

Brief specs. FX-6300, 4GB RAM, GTX760, 1tb SSHD. Windows 10.

Now I confess that the RAM is less but my goal was to buy new. Had I gone second hand I likely could have shaved a few more pounds off and gotten it up to 8GB of RAM.

My point is however that if you are a smart buyer then you can buy a pretty decent gaming PC for around the same price as a current gen console. Price isn't the barrier that it once was.

To my eyes it simply comes down to the effort people want to take in order to play their games, and yes I am willing to hold my hands up and admit that PC gaming does take that bit more effort.

Yet that gap closes in each generation of consoles. Where once you popped in your game and played on a console, you now have to install and wait for the patches. You can do your office work on a console by using their web browsers to access online office suites (such as those at OneDrive.com).

Consoles are already a hair's breadth from becoming a PC. I can honestly see this as being the last generation where that line exists.

Edit: Why does the forum keep changing the pound symbol to a question mark?

Okay, so Microsoft is trying to tank the Xbox. Sounds about right. Hey, Microsoft, before your entire games decision implodes would you mind selling Rare back to Nintendo? That would be great.

I feel like that's a watering down of what Phil Spencer is saying. It lacks context.

The context, and what I think is more impactful, is that Microsoft are trying to create a shared software environment between Xbox and PC. That's a move that I think is frankly, great for both. That's the goal, and iterations of Xbox hardware is only a means to that.

I think what they're doing is great, just extremely hard to market.

Bob_McMillan:
Holy shit, a PC that's 250 bucks more expensive than a console is going to outperform it? NO WAY?!

OT: I point you to the Steam machines. Upgradeable consoles have always been a dumb idea and should stay a dumb idea.

Actually, a PC that is cheaper than a console will outperform them.

Microsoft already has a system with upgradable hardware like the PC. It's called the PC. What the fuck is the point of an upgradable console?

They just want to be able to be the ones selling the hardware. You add hardware upgrades to an Xbox, and it turns into a locked PC with no control input choice, and missing features.

Dango:
I feel like that's a watering down of what Phil Spencer is saying. It lacks context.

The context, and what I think is more impactful, is that Microsoft are trying to create a shared software environment between Xbox and PC. That's a move that I think is frankly, great for both. That's the goal, and iterations of Xbox hardware is only a means to that.

I think what they're doing is great, just extremely hard to market.

What will be the cost of that? Mandatory Windows Updates? Restrictions on what software you can have installed?

This isn';t a new concept, in fact, Im pretty sure MS has mooted at it before as well.

So I should buy a PC then. Which is already upgradeable.

Thanks for the tip, Phil!

Great, let's just sell PC's entirely and start including hardware requirements too.

Or maybe you guys should start looking at adding split-screen support for your ****ing first-party games at least and LAN support for your consoles and actually, you know, start acting like the Xbox One is a console instead of a glorified heavily restricted PC.

votemarvel:

Bob_McMillan:

When you can build a PC that will out-perform both Sony and Microsoft's boxes for around $600

Holy shit, a PC that's 250 bucks more expensive than consoles outperforms them? NO WAY?!

I've just put together a PC with similar spec to a Xbox One Elite for the exact same price, ?400 here in the UK. That includes the Windows license as well.

Brief specs. FX-6300, 4GB RAM, GTX760, 1tb SSHD. Windows 10.

Now I confess that the RAM is less but my goal was to buy new. Had I gone second hand I likely could have shaved a few more pounds off and gotten it up to 8GB of RAM.

My point is however that if you are a smart buyer then you can buy a pretty decent gaming PC for around the same price as a current gen console. Price isn't the barrier that it once was.

To my eyes it simply comes down to the effort people want to take in order to play their games, and yes I am willing to hold my hands up and admit that PC gaming does take that bit more effort.

Yet that gap closes in each generation of consoles. Where once you popped in your game and played on a console, you now have to install and wait for the patches. You can do your office work on a console by using their web browsers to access online office suites (such as those at OneDrive.com).

Consoles are already a hair's breadth from becoming a PC. I can honestly see this as being the last generation where that line exists.

Edit: Why does the forum keep changing the pound symbol to a question mark?

You can get a 1 for ?260, there's also the future proofing argument. This won't happen this generation and considering consoles are more popular than ever there's another generation coming.

Definitely see the merit in what he is saying, but this is something that would be waaaay down the line (is the way I read it).

As others have already said, biggest benefit I see with the console gamers of the world is they don't need to worry about system specs and know anything they buy FOR their machine will run, unless it's made by Ubisoft =p

Then again, how many times have you read people complain how the consoles are holding back progress as developers are building for inferior hardware. If they could make "clip in/slide out" GPU and easily accessible expandable RAM that could be cool. Anything more complicated I would see getting too techincal and you may as well buy a PC. But then it would make the above point moot...

Maybe a tiered upgrade system? That could be easy enough to understand...

Pyrian:
You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.

That's true. I've never had as much trouble with my Xbox One or 360 as I've had trying to get games to run smoothly on my PC. The Amazing Spider-Man won't run higher than medium without crashing despite having a computer powerful enough to run Fallout 4 on Ultra with little issue.

I always liked the idea of expansion packs to consoles, like with what Nintendo did with the memory expansion for the N64, and the Megadrive components (which were sadly mishandled). These things don't need to be there from the start, just have them show up two years into the console's life just to boost it a bit more, and label the new games accordingly.
Have an expansion slot or two on the console body for more ram, an extra GPU or such so that games can improve. Make the part cost like $100 max and it would be OK. That way we can get a bit more life out of our consoles and PC games wouldn't have to suffer too much.
But they would have to be standardized first party parts, no sense in making it a 3rd party accessible thing and have everyone make their own thing with vastly different specs, then you'd just ruin the console.

But I suspect he's not talking about that or a traditional console per say, seeing how Microsoft is working on unifying its platforms and works towards eventually having one version of Windows that works on phones, tablets, PCs etc, and XBox being used for Windows music and games sections - I think what he's talking about isn't really a like what I described. I think he's talking about turning XBox into the games platform for Windows, so instead of it being a console, it would just be Windows PC specifically for gaming. Similar to the failed Steam Machines. Just that it would be branded as XBox and have a regular platform refresh every now and then.

this guy is pretty stupid. the reason i bought a console recently (a wii u, im not buying those glorified old pcs that MS and Sony are selling.) is that its easy. you want to know what my concerns were when i bought a wii u? its hard drive space and what games would be included. thats it. and when i buy a game i know the console is going to run it at the highest graphical settings. i don't need to learn anything about how a wii u works or what parts to get to get the most power out of my money.
its simple, its easy and that's what i want. let all the people that RAGEEE when a game is below 120 fps stick to PC, im happy with my easy game console that lets me play with my friends. and im sure im not the only one that feels this way

Maybe we have him wrong. Look at PC, you can play a game on the top end gpu, mid range and cheap. The game plays on all three, but looks shinier on the better, so there's room for a modular console.

You still have the console "it's an xbox game, it'll work on my xbox" but then you get to put the GPU slot in card that you can afford and you play the game with how it looks on your card, maybe a new DX comes out with better lighting and water rendering, swap out you GPU and away you go, or not and play the same game with slightly shitter graphics.

You want 4k at 120fps? You buy the top end GPU, CPU and RAM slot ins, you're ok with 720p at 30fps? Get the cheapest, play the same game.

Out of this some very interesting things happen, you lower the price point of the initial console, people can buy the basic one and then upgrade as they can afford but still consuming the games library from day one (the profitable bit), you undercut the competition for the basic model and therefore have a larger market to attract developers. Those same developers will be making a PC port[1] so scaling games to GPU/CPU requirements will already be in the engine.

You can also see what people are prepared to spend money on, really putting an end to the 30fps argument for developers. Presuming the xbox reports back to Live with the device configuration.

If you want to, I suppose you could even introduce a number system - this game is xbox 322 (lvl 3 GPU, 2 CPU, 2 RAM), not that hard for customers if you package up the modules in such a simple way, not that many developers I suppose would want to put a lower limit on a game as that would narrow the market available, but technically it's possible, most likely you'll just see scaling as mentioned above, but it brings in options.

[1] because Win10 universal apps, tighter ecosystem blahblahblah

I knew that this would happen. There is an obvious downside to not being able to upgrade hardware, but there is also an upside. With consoles, you know that everyone whom you're playing against has the exact same specs. This also makes developing games simpler.

Like someone said, we already have this: it's called a P.C. I just do not seeing this as being a positive thing for consoles. People like consoles because they're simple. Personally, I greatly prefer P.C. But, I can see why some gravitate toward consoles.

Anyway, let the upgrades stay with P.C.

no wonder Phil is a steam gamer, he wants to make Xbox into a pre-built PC with restricted software, just like Apple.

Pyrian:
You might look upon it as a weakness, but standardization is one of the few upsides consoles really have going for them.

Its no longer beneficial, though, since everything is coded on same instruction sets and APIs as it is for PCs, so the coding to hardware and standartized instruction sets for CPUs that was beneficial in previuos generations no longer apply.

Bob_McMillan:

Holy shit, a PC thats 250 bucks more expensive than consoles outperforms them? NO WAY?!

Where did you find Xbomx One for 350 bucks? All i saw in stores were ~450.

Braedan:
Microsoft already has a system with upgradable hardware like the PC. It's called the PC. What the fuck is the point of an upgradable console?

Microsoft does not own PC, so they cannot control it. Control is the point. Just look how much extra costs controlled enviroments add to users. All of that is profit for the controllers.

MatParker116:

You can get a 1 for ?260, there's also the future proofing argument. This won't happen this generation and considering consoles are more popular than ever there's another generation coming.

What? where the hell did you find a new Xbox One for 260?

Also there is no future proofing argument. well, there is one, but its based on false premise. The hardware of consoles isnt going to magically get better, so no, all games that run on consoles will run on same hardware PCs as well. Or should i say Tablets, since consoles use Tablet APUs from AMD this generation.

Also the consoles are not more popular then ever. their market share is shrinking. the raw numbers are irrelevant because they do not account for vastly increased player base since last generation. the market share is far more important. and that one shows shrinking of only one type of game devices - consoles.

Creator002:

That's true. I've never had as much trouble with my Xbox One or 360 as I've had trying to get games to run smoothly on my PC. The Amazing Spider-Man won't run higher than medium without crashing despite having a computer powerful enough to run Fallout 4 on Ultra with little issue.

1. The Amazing Spider-Man is a horribly designed game by developers that should not be allowed to write a single line of code for the rest of their life. It is nowhere near a representative experience of PC gaming.

2. Fallout 4 uses a game engine from 1997, of course you can run it on Ultra, a toaster can. Which is not to say that your PC is bad, its just that fallout 4 isnt a benchmark game. Try Witcher 3 or Just Cause 3 for that.

Bob_McMillan:

Holy shit, a PC thats 250 bucks more expensive than consoles outperforms them? NO WAY?!

Where did you find Xbomx One for 350 bucks? All i saw in stores were ~450.

Is $350 not the standard price of an Xbone these days? All I'm sure of is that the PS4 is $350 too.

ahh so it will be a buit like the old amiga.. interesting idea

I already own a PC Microsoft...

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