Microsoft says it's already working on new Xbox consoles, "some of which won't come to light for years"
Microsoft made a raft of announcements today around the cloud - but it has also insisted it remains committed to making consoles.
Liz Hamren, CVP of Gaming Experiences & Platforms, said Microsoft was already working on new hardware, "some of which won't come to light for years."
"Cloud is key to our hardware and Game Pass roadmaps, but no one should think we're slowing down on our core console engineering. In fact, we're accelerating it," Hamren said in a video briefing shown to press this week.
"We're already hard at work on new hardware and platforms, some of which won't come to light for years. But even as we build for the future, we're focused on extending the Xbox experience to more devices today so we can reach more people."
With the current generation of consoles just half a year old (the Xbox Series X and S and the PlayStation 5 launched in November last year), it will be some time before we see another generational leap in hardware. However, with the push towards streaming now in full effect, some have wondered whether this generation of consoles will be the last.
"While we continue to expand in PC and mobile, console remains our flagship experience," Hamren added. "We want to deliver the most powerful, capable consoles in the world, devices that empower our players to enjoy amazing games for years to come, including gameplay we can't even imagine yet."
Xbox consoles will be a thing for some time yet, then. But it's clear Microsoft's big push is to expand Xbox beyond the traditional console audience - and it sees cloud gaming as the answer.
"More recently, if you couldn't spend the hundreds of dollars on a console or potentially the thousands of dollars on a high-end gaming PC, you simply couldn't participate in the global gaming community in a significant way," Xbox boss Phil Spencer said during the same video briefing.
"The cloud will allow us to completely remove these barriers to play, worldwide. Of course, there's still a place for consoles and PCs. And frankly, there always will be. But through the cloud, we will be able to deliver a robust gaming experience to anyone connected to the internet, even on the least powerful, least expensive devices, even on devices people already own.
"And with cloud gaming, players can participate fully in the same Xbox experience as people on local hardware. And we couldn't do that if we weren't part of Microsoft."
Revenue from Xbox content and services is "growing strongly", Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart said, but "for that number to continue to grow, we need to expand our audience beyond console, to new demographics and geographies we haven't reached before, and provide meaningful value for that audience to choose to spend their money with us".