Xbox Hardware boss on Traditional Console Generations: 'I don't think it's healthy for the industry'
Xbox is making software its focal point going forward.
If it wasn't already apparent, the introduction of the Xbox One X is pushing forward the notion that the times of the traditional console generation may be coming to a close. In speaking with Wired, Senior Director of Product Management and Planning, Albert Penello said that he thinks that the future of Xbox is about focusing on software and erasing the idea of games being locked to a box.
Penello reluctantly draws on the parallel to the smartphone, which frankly is the closest thing there is to comparing where gaming consoles are going. He said:
I don't always like to use the phone example, because there are other factors at work, but you care more about your apps than the phone they're on now. That industry has moved to the point where you just upgrade your phone when you feel like it, when either the price or the screen or the camera got to where you want to be, and you just assume everything [software side] is going to work.
Earlier in the interview, Penello states that the goal of the Xbox One X is not necessarily to get people to upgrade, but to provide a library of options and price points to the consumer. Which, frankly sounds a lot like how smartphones market themselves.
Penello states that he doesn't believe that console generations are necessarily going away, but how we've traditionally seen them over the years is likely going to be a thing of the past.
I'm not necessarily saying that [console] generations are going to go away, but thinking beyond this generation, thinking around software, is clearly where we're trying to go. We're trying to make sure it's about your content rather than the device. I don't think that console generations are necessarily going to be as much of a fit-and-start going forward. I don't think it's healthy for the industry, I think it's actually not great for customers either.
Xbox One's backwards compatibility initiative feels like it's the start of that philosophy that Penello references of making sure everything software-wise continues to work from machine to machine. Right now, the industry's answer to preventing your games from being trapped on a box that will one day be irrelevant is by re-selling them as "HD Remasters," which is something that not every consumer is open to investing in.
After all, PC players who use Steam, Origin, Uplay, and GOG can maintain a single library of games from machine to machine, and it feels like this is where console gaming is heading.