Sixteen months into the Xbox Series X’s life and the console still remains tricky to pin down. While Xbox Series S hardware is plentiful, Xbox Series X restocks tend to vanish almost as quickly as they appear.
Yet despite the ongoing supply chain difficulties, an intriguing new rumor indicates that Microsoft is planning some new hardware for 2022. The source of the news is the XboxEra podcast (opens in new tab), but the fact it was included in the “Rumor Mill” segment of the show is important: this is far from verified.
All the same, host Shpeshal Nick stated that we should expect some new Xbox branded hardware this year — or perhaps a little later due to the many problems facing international supply chains at the moment.
“Xbox currently has some hardware to show… that falls into a different bucket than people are probably expecting,” he said.
You can see the relevant clip at the 1:46:23 section of the video below.
Nick goes on to say that he knows exactly what the mystery hardware is, but is limited by what he’s allowed to say. So somewhere in that awkward gray area between a rumor and alleged fact.
New 2022 Xbox hardware: The possibilities
Off the top of my head, there are a few things this could potentially be. So, from most to least likely, here are the possible runners and riders.
Game Pass Streaming Stick
By far the most likely Xbox hardware reveal would be slightly underwhelming to Xbox diehards, but useful to those unable to afford or get their hands on physical hardware: an Xbox Game Pass streaming stick.
While this hasn’t been formally announced, it’s been mentioned in passing by the company as a way of bringing Xbox Cloud Gaming to more devices. “We’re also developing stand-alone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection you can stream your Xbox experience,” said (opens in new tab) Microsoft’s Liz Hamren in an E3 2021 panel, which is about as conclusive as you can get.
Game Pass handheld
In the same ballpark but less likely is some kind of lightweight mobile hardware designed for streaming Xbox Game Pass games.
Unlike the streaming stick, this hasn’t been formally mentioned as a possibility by anyone at Microsoft, but we have heard that the company is dabbling with something along those lines. Notably, the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 platform is capable of supporting Xbox Cloud Gaming and Xbox console streaming, which could be of interest to the company.
Some kind of virtual reality headset
Getting more unlikely now, as Microsoft has previously dismissed virtual reality as being a priority for Xbox (opens in new tab), and reiterated that dismissal as recently as last year (opens in new tab).
Things can, of course, change and the continued success of Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 may change hearts and minds — as could PSVR 2 when it emerges. But for now, this seems like a pipe dream, as much as we’d love VR support for Xbox.
An enhanced Xbox Series S
Pure, wild speculation here, in part based on my own preferences, but hear me out. Microsoft seems to have no trouble keeping the Xbox Series S on store shelves, but what if that’s not just down to the relative ease of manufacturing, but customers’ desire for a disk drive?
Maybe Microsoft is considering an external disk drive (if it wasn’t burned by the whole HD-DVD drive experiment), or selling a version of the console with an optical drive included? For an extra $50, I’d buy that in a snap.
For now, your guess is as good as mine. We’ll just have to see what happens later in the year — Ukraine situation and supply chain holdups notwithstanding.