Xbox’s future cloud hybrid and AI-powered console will launch in 2028, according to one of the biggest console manufacturer leaks in history. The institution of hybrid cloud technology could make the next generation a significant jump from its predecessor, putting all the pressure on PlayStation to counter with a big generational jump of its own.
It’s important to note that these leaks, which include a flurry of other news, including an Xbox Series X/S refresh, future Bethesda Softworks games, and acquisition considerations, came from the FTC v Microsoft court case. While the leaks are seemingly real documents, plans change and alter. We may see the cloud hybrid console in 2028 or a variation. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox made a statement indicating the plans have, indeed, changed.
“We’ve seen the conversation around old email and documents,” Spencer said. “It is hard to see our team’s work shared in this way because so much has changed and there’s so much to be excited about right now and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.”
However, Xbox’s current push for cloud gaming says a lot about its trajectory and we can confidently say that Xbox’s next console will be a generational leap in some way even if it doesn’t look exactly like the leaks foretell. We can say, for sure, that Xbox is experimenting with Cloud and AI technology, which may impact the gaming landscape significantly.
According to the leaks, the next Xbox will have some impressive specs. Microsoft is deciding between an ARM 64 or AMD Zen 6×86 CPU. For the GPU the company is between either a custom GPU or AMD Navi 5. Lastly, Microsoft is going with machine-learning silicon for the NPU.
For a point of comparison, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 use a Zen 2 CPU so the new Xbox will boast a significant improvement from current consoles. In terms of the manufacturer’s dedication to machine learning(ML), NVIDIA and Intel have already proven that ML hardware produces superior results over standard components, according to wccftech. That means the console will likely deliver on its promised features, including “Next-gen DirectX Ray Tracing, Dynamic Global Illumination, ML Super Resolution, Micropolygon Rendering Optimization, and an Extensibility Model for Faster Iteration and Innovation.”
The specs above could be a signpost for what’s to come for the PlayStation 6. As we’ll explore later, PlayStation is usually behind when it comes to the latest gimmick, but it is usually on par with the hardware itself. If machine learning is the direction of current gaming technology, then I don’t foresee PlayStation ignoring it. The console manufacturer will follow the same general trajectory when it comes to hardware, however, PlayStation could make some specific divergences. For example, the PlayStation 5, has 825 GB SSD, a proprietary component that sacrifices storage for speed. Besides a few other small differences, the hardware in a general sense is similar to the Series X. We believe the same will be said for the next generation.
What exactly does this mean for the player? The short answer is we don’t know, but we can make some inferences about the Xbox side. Hybrid cloud technology refers to services powered by pre-established infrastructure, private cloud services, and public cloud services. This could mean several things for gaming. One clue could be Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The game streamed data from the Cloud instead of strictly using data from the Xbox itself. Flight Simulator captures real-life imagery of the world and lets the player fly anywhere. The new console could potentially offer more games like this, which would be a great leap from the traditional console technology of today.
Another benefit could be the culmination of Xbox’s “Play Anywhere” promise. Today Cloud gaming refers to games streamed to a remote device. The technology can be seen with Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation Plus, and even Cloud versions of games on the Nintendo Switch. Sometimes, streamed games suffer from latency issues and dropped frames, but maybe that won’t be the case with the new Xbox. One of the documents refers to “$99 consumer or handheld devices.” Perhaps, with the inclusion of these devices, we could finally see remote play at its full potential.
Lastly, the use of AI opens a world of possibilities. The exact wording on the document is “optimization and acceleration of game performance, operations, and development for players and creators.” If this comes to fruition, AI will benefit the player and the developer.
One potential example is AI could learn your preference for single-player games and adjust accordingly. Or, perhaps, it could learn how you like your games (high frame rate, high resolution, etc.) and automatically present games with the settings you like. From the developer’s perspective, we expect more cases similar to Microsoft Flight Simulator, such as using satellite images to impact the game’s visuals. Other possibilities, according to dexerto, could be increased procedural generation and instantaneous dialogue generation.
As we said, everything above is speculation based on jargon-filled documents that present a possible future for Xbox. However, if this comes true, the next generation Xbox in terms of hardware and implementation will be a huge leap. Traditionally, PlayStation relies, not on upcoming, sometimes gimmicky technology but on the tried and true practice of delivering quality exclusives.
For instance, it is only now bolstering its multiplayer and free-to-play offerings, a direction that has been long present in the games industry. Additionally, Xbox came out of the gate swinging with Xbox Game Pass in 2017 while Sony stumbled behind with a new version of PlayStation Plus in 2022. The thing is, PlayStation is doing just fine, launching way ahead of the Xbox Series X in sales. With the next generation, should PlayStation stay the course or offer interesting gimmicks of its own?
We’ve speculated that the PlayStation 6 will have similar hardware as the new Xbox, but Sony’s business strategy and implementation could be totally different. Whatever they do won’t compromise its current success. For instance, instead of a play-anywhere approach, Sony may have a play-exclusively-on-PlayStation approach. Innovation does not mean copying Xbox to a T. The company will innovate in a fashion that suits them. We foresee both console manufacturers welcoming new technology to enhance gaming as a whole. The question is, however, which one will deliver the best experience?
Perhaps, Sony may try to innovate with cloud technology but pale in comparison to Xbox’s implication and fall back on its sturdy backbone of legacy titles. Whatever the case may be, the next Xbox will push PlayStation out of its comfort zone to, at least, try new things, potentially capitalizing on the hybrid cloud approach. Imagine giving the same technology behind Microsoft Flight Simulator to Naughty Dog and seeing what happens. PlayStation could use the technology exclusively to amp up games instead of the backbone of the console itself.
However things shape out, the next generation will be a big one for both companies, showcasing a significant generational leap – on both sides – that we desperately missed with the last generational jump. It’s likely PlayStation wasn’t sitting with their hands behind their heads basking in success. No, the folks at PlayStation are probably analyzing the future of games and figuring out how PlayStation 6 fits into the equation. We believe, given that Xbox is making strides in innovation, PlayStation will do the same. The company won’t succeed forever with the traditional approach indicated by its attempts to facilitate subscription services, live services, and Cloud technology. The PlayStation 6 likely won’t be a small technological leap like the PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5. It will be a massive leap to stay on top.