Microsoft updates Xbox streaming stick plans for gaming without a console

Microsoft confirms 'new approach' for Xbox streaming device with cloud gaming built-in
(Image credit: Microsoft)

For years now, Microsoft has been rumoured to have an Xbox streaming stick in the works. Now the company has confirmed that the device continues to evolve.

In its current guise, the device is "a modernised HDMI streaming device that runs Xbox Game Pass and its cloud gaming service," Windows Central (opens in new tab) reports. Though Microsoft is reportedly "exploring additional iterations" of the device, so it could change before going on sale.

The device is codenamed Keystone, and aims to make gaming more affordable.

"Our vision for Xbox Cloud Gaming is unwavering, our goal is to enable people to play the games they want, on the devices they want, anywhere they want," Microsoft said in a statement. "As announced last year, we’ve been working on a game-streaming device, codename Keystone, that could be connected to any TV or monitor without the need for a console."

The gaming behemoth added that Keystone has changed since its original iteration.

"As part of any technical journey, we are constantly evaluating our efforts, reviewing our learnings, and ensuring we are bringing value to our customers. We have made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration of the Keystone device. We will take our learnings and refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future."

Console-free gaming has been mooted for years, ever since the days of OnLive in the early 2000s. But a gaming behemoth like Microsoft could be the one to make it a success. It's quite a prospect – a streaming dongle would be much cheaper than a full-blown games console, with the majority of the processing done in the cloud. It would also be more portable, letting you take your gaming console and library of games wherever there's a TV.

As well as a low-cost streaming device, Microsoft has suggested it could launch TV apps for Xbox Cloud Gaming, as part of its 'Xbox Everywhere' plan. This would do away with the need for a games device altogether – all you would need would be a smart TV with the app, a subscription to Xbox Cloud Gaming and a controller.

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Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.