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Xbox streaming box would have been too expensive, Microsoft says

Microsoft has revealed it shelved plans to launch an Xbox streaming box because it couldn’t get the price low enough to make it an attractive proposition for consumers.

According to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who confirmed the existence of the ‘Keystone’ box earlier this year, Microsoft was unable to hit the target of a $100–$130 streaming-only media device.

In an interview on The Verge’s Decoder podcast, Spencer said the prototype the Xbox team has built was more expensive to kit out than Microsoft was comfortable with selling it for.

We would assume this means there wouldn’t be enough of a price gap to make this a viable device up against the Xbox Series S, which also offers cloud connectivity, as well as all of the tech required to play games locally. Not just those within the Game Pass library.

Spencer says: “It was more expensive than we wanted it to be when we actually built it out with the hardware that we had inside. We decided to focus that team’s effort on delivering the smart TV streaming app.”

That Xbox app has rolled out for Samsung smart TVs initially, enabling Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to enjoy hundreds of games thanks to powerful cloud infrastructure.

Microsoft isn’t ruling out the future launch of a Keystone game streaming box in the future, but the idea of a launch in 2023 doesn’t sound realistic at the present time. “With Keystone, we’re still focused on it and watching when we can get the right cost,” Spencer says.

The comments from the Xbox chief come a few weeks after it was confirmed that the streaming box would be delayed indefinitely. He told the WSJ Tech conference the idea had been put on the back burner for now.

He said: “Giving people choice – whether they want to play on their tablet, on their smart TV, on Xbox, a PC – we think that’s really critical to where we’re going. Will we do a streaming device at some point? I suspect we will, but it’s years away. I still have the prototype – it sits on the shelf behind my computer.”

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