A reader asks whether Microsoft should try and make its own equivalent to the Switch, or bring its games to Nintendo’s console.
Microsoft have never released a handheld games console in their 17 years in the console manufacturing business; despite the fact they have a high end tablet line with Surface and third parties like Lenovo making Windows 10 tablets. I wondered when I read one of the developers say that Forza Motorsport 7 runs on a Surface Pro, and with the success of the Nintendo Switch, if Microsoft would have a stab at a making a portable Xbox.
Phil Spencer said in an interview, when asked about whether there would ever be a handheld console from Xbox, that they were always looking at every opportunity to expand the brand but years ago their stance was that handheld gaming was on the way out and mobiles and tablets had taken over. But the Switch proves that clearly isn’t the case, so maybe it is something they are considering.
All they would really have to do is design one of their Surface tablets, probably in line power-wise with an Xbox One S and with detachable Xbox controllers like the Switch’s Joy-Cons – and the ability to be plugged into an HDMI slot on a TV. There already is a tablet from Lenovo that has a detachable housing with Xbox controls on the sides that runs on Windows 10 and can Stream Xbox and PC games.
A handheld Xbox could have some form of cartridge to play games, as the Switch does, and also digital where exclusives and some third party games would be Xbox Play Anywhere titles. Meaning if you purchase them once digitally they can be played on a home Xbox One and PC as well. The current line-up of Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X means Xbox One M (for mobile) would fit in perfectly.
Or perhaps if Microsoft don’t want to create a handheld games console themselves they could allow Nintendo to use some of their games on the Switch. They have done this in the past on Nintendo’s handheld consoles, and certainly some of Xbox’s exclusives would play very well on the platform. Titles like Cuphead, Super Lucky’s Tale, and Ori And The Blind Forest would play brilliantly on the Switch. Halo Wars 2 is another good fit for a handheld and also Forza Motorsport 7. Given how scalable it is being able to run on a Surface tablet should mean a Switch port isn’t too big of a stretch.
Banjo-Kazooie, which a lot of Nintendo fans have nostalgia for but never really had any traction on Xbox platforms, could be a good candidate for a Switch game. The recent rumour about a new Perfect Dark game could be another with an Xbox, PC, and Switch version that could all be cross-play when played online co-operatively and competitively. Since again the series has history on Nintendo hardware.
Microsoft have also already proven they aren’t against their games being on other companies consoles with Minecraft still being sold on every available platform. It’s also possible their games could be Xbox Play Anywhere on Xbox, Switch, and PC offering even more value to customers who own two or all three of those platforms.
Maybe 2018 isn’t the best time for them to announce either a handheld console or a deal with Nintendo, because they have just launched the Xbox One X and want that to be the focus. Many people have just bought a 4K TV and a lot more people will be buying one this year with the price points of higher end sets dropping considerably to a more affordable price for the mass market. So I think Microsoft will want to ride that train instead and continue to push the ‘world’s most powerful console’ angle, saying this is the best box to go with your new TV.
But maybe it’s something we will see in the next few years if the Switch continues to sell as well as it has up to this point. They’ve got to be taking notice of that and considering their options.
By reader Big Angry Dad82 (gamertag)
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.