Phil Spencer hints at future $99-$129 streaming Xbox — here’s what we know

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of Gaming for Microsoft Corp., speaks during the company's Xbox event ahead of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Sunday, June 10, 2018.
(Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Microsoft has been working on an Xbox streaming device for some time now. In fact, we even “accidentally” saw an old prototype of a Project Keystone streaming device in a recent tweet from Phil Spencer. But now, we may actually know why we have yet to see one — and how much Microsoft wants it to cost.

In a recent interview on The Verge’s Decoder podcast reported on by VGC, Phil Spencer talked about Project Keystone and why it's on hold for now. In short, it costs too much. Spencer said that while he was hesitant to announce specific pricing on the rumored future Xbox streaming device, he thinks it needs to be within the $99 to $129 range. Anything more than that and it will struggle to differentiate itself from the Xbox Series S, which is currently on sale for just $249.

Spencer says that we should still expect an Xbox streaming device in the future, but not for several years. Hopefully, he keeps his promise of a relatively low price point for cloud-based console gaming

Xbox streaming device: Price and hardware holding it back 

Vizio OLED gaming PS5 Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Vizio)

While money was a big factor in Microsoft temporarily shelving Project Keystone — literally — it wasn’t the only factor. Spencer also stated that the controller wasn’t ready, indicating that Microsoft was planning to use a separate controller specifically for its streaming device rather than the current Microsoft Xbox One controller. This feels like an odd choice since the Xbox One controller is one of the best game controllers on the market, but Microsoft must have had its reasons. 

Apparently, the hardware of the device itself was also a complicating factor, and one that directly contributed to the price point Microsoft was unwilling to proceed with. Spencer said that the Project Keystone streaming device needed to build everything completely bespoke due to its requirements for an external power source and the integrated circuitry of today’s best televisions. The silicon needed for the streaming device was also an issue, with Spencer explicitly blaming it for exceeding the bounds of the desired $129 price point.

We definitely look forward to an Xbox streaming device, but it sounds like for now we shouldn’t hold our breath. In the meantime, we will need to be satisfied with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S to get our Xbox gaming fix. These consoles just turned two years old and we are covering their anniversary event. Check out our latest features on our favorite Xbox Series X games, how the PS5 and Xbox Series X stack up two years later and what the PS5 could learn from Xbox Cloud Gaming

Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.