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Xbox boss Phil Spencer: "We're not planning for Scarlett to be our last console"

Swimming upstream.

Video game streaming isn't quite here - but it's certainly coming. Google, Sony and of course Microsoft are all set to enter the streaming fray over the next year - and in a big way. But does streaming signal the end of consoles?

Some believe the next-gen - PS5 and Project Scarlett - will be the last-gen as the world fully embraces streaming over the next few years. But that's not necessarily the case, according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

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"I'll say what we're planning for," Spencer told Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann at E3 (the interview in full, above, is well worth a watch). "We're not planning for Scarlett to be our last console."

That's not a confirmation there will be a console after Project Scarlett comes out in time for Christmas 2020, of course. But it seems Microsoft is confident there will be. The question, then, becomes what kind of console - a more powerful version, what the Xbox One X was to the Xbox One, perhaps? Or a next next-gen?

Spencer said whatever comes after Scarlett would have to be "meaningful", as X was, in his opinion.

"The thing for us past Scarlett is what is that next inflection point of experience that would actually be meaningful?" he said.

"We thought 4K would be meaningful. And if you don't think so, go buy an S or a PlayStation or whatever. But if you thought 4K and six teraflops and all the stuff we talked about was the thing you wanted, we wanted to make sure we had the memory bandwidth and a GPU to deliver 4K.

"I think we have something meaningful at the next point - frankly both of us [Sony and Microsoft] are just about at, from what I know.

"Beyond that I don't know what that is. But we're not planning for not doing another console."

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But what about streaming? Microsoft is, clearly, mindful of the coming tide, with xCloud waiting to launch this year. Won't streaming make consoles, such as Scarlett, obsolete, if not soon, then eventually?

Maybe, but, according to Spencer, certainly not in the short to medium term.

"I don't think in that timeline that I'm going to be playing games that feel like my Scarlett games that are streamed on a screen that's 60 inches," he said.

"I could be wrong. We're going to continue with our xCloud work and the magic that's being put in there. But we look at it as, me running local hardware... and the analogy I use is going to be important... the analogy I use is, I'm a Spotify subscriber, I'm a Netflix subscriber, it's not like that streaming has led to fewer devices around me. If anything I have more devices around me. The price point of a console isn't for everybody, but it's not a thousand bucks. So the idea I would have a dedicated machine in my house that plays games really well doesn't seem foreign to me, even if I'm streaming games a lot of the time.

"But, again, I don't know. We don't yet know what past Scarlett would be the thing. We don't have a need to do one like two or three years after that. We would just continue to focus on, is there something meaningful from an experience we could do?"

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Spencer went on to suggest that it would take a significant market change for Microsoft to step-in with a quick-fire follow-up to Project Scarlett.

"It would be something that would come along and say, what I had before doesn't feel like it's fulfilling state of the art experiences I have in my home, and that's what I want," he said.

"That's what we're planning for, but we'll always be eyes wide open."

So, while streaming is very much the next big thing, it sounds like Microsoft isn't done with consoles yet - even after Project Scarlett.

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