At this point, I think it’s pretty clear what the next hardware investment will be for the two biggest gaming brands, Microsoft and Sony.
・ “Nintendo Switch” has become very popular not only because of its rich game library, but also because of its portability.
Valve can’t keep up with demand for Steam Decks, bringing your PC library to your fingertips
Third parties are also on board, such as new devices from Verizon, Razor, and Qualcomm that support cloud game streaming, local playback, and streaming playback from game consoles.
The last one actually featured an Xbox logo at the end of the announcement, suggesting that the device might come with Xbox cloud gaming. But I think it would be wise for Sony and Microsoft, the Xbox and PlayStation brands, to start thinking about their own handsets. I think it’s a question of “when” rather than “if”. Which one do you ride the most? I believe that.
Sony ahead of its time
Sony has experience making portable hardware with PSP and PS Vita, but given the recent resurgence of handheld game consoles, they were ahead of the game.
But even if that were the case, and even if Sony had experience in this area, I doubt now is the time. Sony’s next big hardware investment is already happening and it’s PSVR 2, but it has a much more limited audience than potential handhelds. But they continue to invest.
–A handheld game machine that will be called “Xbox Series M”–
What’s more, the company is already unable to produce enough PS5s to meet demand. Adding another device on top of that is too much. Especially when a lot of PlayStation software can be purchased for PC via Steam Deck. It has also invested less than Microsoft in the cloud, which is a big part of these devices.
Most likely Microsoft
It seems to me that Microsoft could start developing a handheld game console in the next few years. The Xbox mobile model, called “Xbox Series M”, will definitely be a device for playing Xbox cloud gaming titles. But I wish Microsoft would be more committed to the same things Valve is doing with Steam Deck. After all, ultimately it’s best to play games locally, and cloud gaming is still a long way off.
Although Microsoft offers different technology specifications for the Xbox Series X and S for different customers at different prices, it seems most likely that such hardware will be new. It is unlikely that Xbox Game Pass will make it to Switch, so Microsoft will want to make its own device that can take advantage of this kind of frenzy that is common to Switch and Steam Deck. Sure, you can play Xbox games on regular mobile devices like phones, iPads, and newer devices like that, but what about a mobile-only Xbox? Especially if Microsoft sees that Sony is busy producing VR and PS5 and can get there first, why not be popular.
Of course, both companies may end up making handsets, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon in the next few years. Mobile games (and not just smartphone games) are now huge and getting bigger, and the companies that make them will develop dedicated hardware that reflects their popularity.