The world of console gaming is entering uncharted territory, thanks to surprises like the upcoming PlayStation 4 Neo and Nintendo NX. But of all the announcements, it looks like Microsoft’s plans are going to bring big changes to how we experience Xbox games now and going forward. The Xbox of the future is going to be quite different from the Xbox of the past.
It’s exciting stuff, but with announcements coming here and there, it can be hard to keep track of it all. So here are the innovations Microsoft has in store for Xbox One gamers.
PC as an equal player
In the old days, calling a game “exclusive” meant you could only play it on a single platform. For Xbox games, those days are nearly over. Going forward, every new Xbox One exclusive that’s published by Microsoft will also be available on Windows 10. That includes major upcoming releases like Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, and Halo Wars 2. They, and a lot more games, will appear on Windows 10 the same day they launch on Xbox One.
The idea here is for Microsoft to cash in on some of that sweet dough Valve has been raking in with Steam. Finally, Microsoft is taking PC gaming seriously. This is good news for PC gamers, too, because not only will they be able to play games they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten on their platform of choice, but if Microsoft can give Steam a run for its money, that will create competition. And competition tends to be good for consumers, as each company tries to outdo the other.
Xbox Play Anywhere
All those games that are “exclusive” to Xbox One and Windows 10? They’re also part of Microsoft’s big new Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. Basically, this means if you buy a game digitally on either Xbox One or Windows 10, you’ll also get it for free on the other system.
Xbox Play Anywhere games also support cross-save, so you can pick up your game right where you left off regardless of which platform you played it on last. In many instances, you’ll even be able to play online games with friends, regardless of whether they’re playing on PC or Xbox One.
Xbox One Scorpio
Perhaps the most interesting reason Xbox One games will be different in the future is that Microsoft is effectively releasing a whole new console toward the end of 2017. Currently referred to as Project Scorpio, the console will be over four times more powerful than the current Xbox One. Not only does that eclipse the leaked specs of the PlayStation 4 Neo, but it will make it by far the most powerful game console ever released.
Much remains to be seen about Project Scorpio, but we do know that it will support 4K gaming and virtual reality, possibly through a partnership with Oculus.
The biggest paradigm shift for Xbox One Scorpio might be its completely backwards compatibility with the entire Xbox One library, as well as the Xbox 360 games that are playable on the current Xbox One. The idea, says Xbox head Phil Spencer, is to make all Xbox One games backwards and forwards compatible, so that you’ll be able to play all of your games on whatever Xbox hardware exists in the future.
Finally, the name “Xbox One” makes sense
Maybe all of this stuff has been planned from the beginning, or maybe the Xbox team whipped it up more recently in order to differentiate Xbox from Sony’s PlayStation platform. In either case, the name “Xbox One” — which many pundits derided when it was announced — finally makes sense.
If the Xbox One is an ongoing platform, with new, more powerful hardware launching every few years while maintaining game compatibility, Xbox One is a fitting name. Like with iPhones, the actual hardware you use will change over time, but you’ll always be playing on something called an Xbox One.
If that’s the case, then the future of Xbox is the Xbox One.