Sony is notorious for the 10-year life cycles of their consoles, but what about Microsoft? Apparently a new console each decade is now the norm, as Microsoft’s Corporate VP Phil Harrison has stated that with the launch of Xbox One, gamers will be embarking on a “more than 10-year journey.”
Harrison’s comments came at Microsoft’s Eurogamer Expo keynote earlier today, where it was conveyed to the audience that Xbox One will be able to evolve slowly over time, keeping it relevant for a decade’s time at least. Various strategies will enable this, including those based on cloud technologies.
Harrison said the following regarding Xbox One’s long-term presence.
“For us, it’s not just about the launch date. It is about the start of the journey where the console will be improved and will be adapted and changed.”
Retroactively improving or upgrading a console, huh? Software and firmware updates are nothing new, but the thought of actually getting cloud-powered horsepower upgrades partway through a system’s life seems pretty compelling. Harrison was upfront about the fact that Microsoft has 300,000 servers dedicated solely to Xbox One’s evolution, which will be used for anything from typical multiplayer and networking features to cloud processing and even AI.
With the Steam Box looming, a static console that improves only cosmetically over ten years may not be able to compete, so it’s good that Microsoft has some less-than-traditional plans. Sony’s Gaikai could very well end up enhancing the PS4 in similar ways.
As cool as it is that I may not have to buy a console for ten years, it’s almost a little scary – I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit for that long. Obviously purchasing multiple boxes is always an option, but there’s something about going with your console and company of choice and sticking to your guns that is charmingly old school. It will probably go out of style with life cycles this massive, and it will be interesting to see how knowledge of said life cycles will affect which consoles people buy, and when they buy them. A sense of urgency may be awful hard to cultivate when the customer knows they have a whole 3,650 days before the Xbox One is replaced.