Since GDC 2016, there has been a rumor running around that there was going to be a PS4.5 with 4K capability and upgraded hardware. It took all of five minutes to start asking if Microsoft was planning a similar Xbox 1.5? It seemed possible for a time because Phil Spencer hasn’t been shy about his vision for the future of consoles.
Now Xbox chief Phil Spencer has made it perfectly clear that Microsoft isn’t interested in an Xbox 1.5. Why the sudden shutdown? Read on to find out more!
Cold Feet? Microsoft’s Sudden Change of Heart
Intrepid readers here on Xbox 2 Gamers will remember that I previously reported on Phil Spencer’s excitement and willingness to create a console that could be upgraded over the course of a generation.
This happened during the Xbox Spring Showcase event when Phil Spencer took the stage and talked about a future of ”hardware innovation”. He wasn’t shy about talking up the future where consoles would no longer be locked into cycles. Instead they would evolve and grow as the years went on and technology marched forward.
He also talked up a “Universal Windows Platform” which would allow for new hardware upgrades that still made backwards compatibility possible. It was all very exciting, but everyone was wondering when this future would become a reality.
His words, not mine, were as follows: “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation.”
It’s hard to hear that and not start thinking when mere weeks later the rumors of PS4.5 started coming up left and right. So of course, people started wondering if the Xbox One would follow suit. While the PS4.5 hasn’t been confirmed, the rumors have been fairly insistent on its existence.
The time came to confront Spencer about these rumors. He’s a pretty straightforward guy, so I was interested to see how he would respond. Would it be a cool and calculated response that all but confirms it?
Eh...not so much.
After the Microsoft Build 2016 keynote, Phil Spencer was questioned about his opinion on an Xbox 1.5 to match the rumored PS4.5. Here’s what we got:
"I’m not a big fan of Xbox One and a half. If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers. For us, our box is doing well. It performs, it’s reliable, the servers are doing well. If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people--an upgrade."
Wait Phil, what about your idea about an upgradeable console? When does that come into play? Phil has this covered too. He spoke on Major Nelson’s podcast and addressed the issue:
"What I'm saying is as hardware innovations happen we want to be able to embrace those in the console space," he said. "And make those available and maybe not have to wait seven or eight years for things to happen. But right now, we're not announcing hardware. I'm happy with the console we have and the platform we built on top of that console and the constant innovation and the games that are there. But as a longer-term vision statement I wanted to make sure people understood what we're doing I think is good for the console space in addition to being good for the PC space"
Essentially, Spencer is focused on the here and now, like any good businessman. He doesn’t mind talking about potential plans for the future, but it’s just that, the future. He’s not interested in messing with what the Xbox One has done thus far, and will continue to do. I respect that, a lot actually.
Microsoft Decides to Focus on Xbox 2
I for one am entirely in agreement with Phil Spencer. Yes, his comments about an upgradeable console are easy to use as fodder for an Xbox 1.5 announcement, but his quick focus to reiterate that he’s not talking about this generation is exactly what needed to be said.
He wants a big jump to the next console, and rightfully so. A console shouldn’t incrementally increase and release a new version, it should make a quantum leap forward. What Phil is telling us here, is that Xbox 2 will begin to embody the future he and Microsoft has in mind.
A new console can set a new precedent. It can establish a new cycle where hardware isn’t set in stone. It can do that because it is a new system. While Phil Spencer did compare consoles to smartphones, that’s not quite accurate.
You see, consumers expect a new iPhone, but they don’t expect a new Xbox or a new PS4. That’s not the expectation that game companies have set. It’s all about setting that expectation. If Microsoft releases an Xbox 2 with the ability to be upgraded as new hardware comes out, people would like that. They would accept that it’s a new console and jump into the new generation.
Not so with an Xbox 1.5. We’ve never had an incremental increase before, so introducing one without any warning would fracture the market and anger the consumer. Phil understands this. He’s not looking to fix what isn’t broken. If Sony truly does move forward with PS4.5 and it becomes a new console that locks out content for older users, we may very well see Microsoft take the lead in the console war.
What do you think? Do you agree that Xbox 1.5 isn’t needed? Should Microsoft focus on Xbox 2, and if Sony does release a PS4.5, will that cost them the war? Let us know in the comments below!
Check These Out!