Well, well, well. Look what we have here. Not one day after Valve unveiled the Steam Deck, a rumour comes rumbling along that Microsoft is developing its own handheld Xbox console. That would be something, wouldn't it?
The claim arises from an interaction between VentureBeat reporter Jeff Grubb and YouTuber Rand al Thor 19 on Twitter. Grubb is astonished at the pricing of the Steam Deck, which starts out at approximately £400 and surges to £570 for the model with the largest amount of storage. What you're essentially paying for is a miniature PC, yet unfortunately unlike other things that have been miniaturised such as the pony and the pig, it's not as adorable. Aesthetics are the least of its worries, though. An AMD eight thread Zen 2 CPU, an AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 8 compute units and a considerable 16GB of RAM lets the Steam Deck breeze through titles like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, DOOM Eternal and Control.
If I could access my Steam library wherever I was without fretting about the performance, I am sure I would blitz through my backlog like a beaver shredding a giant sequoia. My focus right now is on the colourful yet caustic Going Under, a roguelike about unpaid internships which is available on Xbox Game Pass. It's now worth mentioning that, as Steam Deck is a mini PC, one could install Windows on the machine, then install Xbox and play Xbox Game Pass on the Steam Deck. Is that a sauce? Perhaps. Which is why this rumour about a dedicated Xbox handheld that would supposedly be a Game Pass gadget to end all Game Pass gadgets is so curious.
Check out the Steam Deck here, playing titles like Disco Elysium, Hades, Crusader Kings 3 and more.
"Game Pass needs hardware integration," said Grubb, to which Rand al Thor 19 replied: "who says Xbox won't release a proper handheld in a year or two [though?]" It is possible that the YouTuber is stirring the pot, so to speak, and there isn't an Xbox handheld in the works. Something tells me I shouldn't be so quick to disregard this thought, though. Microsoft's cloud computing service Azure stretches around the world in 140 countries and recently improved its server blades to accommodate the power of the Xbox Series X. This is the technology that allows Xbox Cloud Gaming to work so well.
Be that as it may, Microsoft has been much more interested in opening the gates to gaming no matter where you are or how you like to play, rather than closing them in exclusivity agreements and so on. How the company navigates the fact that Valve might have cornered the market when it comes to a Game Pass gadget will be an interesting one to watch play out, though.
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