We Wanted an Xbox Handheld, and All We Got Were More Expensive Consoles

We Wanted an Xbox Handheld, and All We Got Were More Expensive Consoles

For Xbox, hardware is an afterthought. If you were like us and spent nearly two hours watching the Xbox Showcase, you came away disappointed by whats on offer for 2024. We are getting the same Xbox console hardware first released in 2020, though now with more storage. We could have had a handheld. We could have had anything else. But for now, we’re stuck with the sneaking sense that Microsoft is throwing everything at the wall to justify its $US69 billion Activision Blizzard buyout.

The rumored Xbox handheld was a no-show. So here’s the real news: The $US600 Xbox Series X Galaxy Black Edition will come with 2 TB of storage. That one has a disk drive, but the Robot White Series X with a 1 TB SSD doesn’t at $US450. Finally, another white Xbox Series S with 1 TB SSD is available for $US350. Galaxy Black is bespeckled with little green dots, and you can get a matching controller. They should be available for preorder “soon.” As if anybody honestly thought we’d return to the kerfuffle that was the PS3 “$US599 U.S. Dollars.

But come on, what are we doing here? In an interview with IGN after the show, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said, “I think we should have a handheld.”

Spencer added the development team is exploring “different form factors, different ways of play.” He also mentioned that he’d instead not use a cloud-based platform since it’s important to be able to “play games locally.” That’s all well and good, but as far as hints go, there’s not much to go on.


Phil Spencer Talks Xbox Showcase, Studio Closures, Xbox Handheld, and More! | IGN Live 2024

Are more storage options truly a negative? No, of course not. You could install an SSD expansion in the console instead of buying a whole new machine, but these new Series X and Series X editions are for those considering jumping on the Xbox bandwagon if they haven’t already. It’s a lame offering compared to competing consoles like the upcomingNintendo Switch 2. Plenty of leaks show that Sony is working on a PlayStation 5 Pro. This could be a more powerful console with an overclocked CPU supporting better refresh rates at 4K, better ray tracing, and even some AI upscaling. We still don’t know the price, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the PS5 Pro is equivalent to the Galaxy Black Series X at $US600.

Microsoft seems like it’s trying to beat the competition by being the first to announce any new hardware in 2024, even if it’s something few care about. If the Redmond tech giant was serious about competing in the future of gaming, we should have seen a handheld. We should have finally seen Microsoft accept its role in the burgeoning handheld console market with a new version of Windows that works natively on a handheld form factor. Xbox recently sent out surveys to folks asking if they would buy an Xbox handheld. It’s pretty real concerning we’re still in the survey phase, especially when the Steam Deck and Asus ROG Ally have sold so damn well.

Sony also missed the mark by refusing to create a new handheld. The limited PlayStation Portal isn’t what most gamers are looking for now. The showcase spent nearly half its runtime reviewing all the new movement tricks and Max Payne-esque dives in Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 (I have to blink away the feeling of decrepitude knowing there’s been five of these already). Of course, it would, especially since this is the first time Call of Duty is coming to Game Pass.


[4K] Xbox Games Showcase Followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 Direct

I’m not sold that any of what got shown at the Xbox Showcase would make anybody leap out of their seats to hammer the “buy” button for a new console.

There was a new trailer for the upcoming first-person Indiana Jones game. There’s a Gears of War prequel, a loud and proud trailer for Doom: Dark Ages, and another for the intriguingExpedition 33. Many of these trailers were accompanied by an “Available on Game Pass” sticker. If anything, that’s where Microsoft appears to be hedging its bets, all while ignoring that one of the best places to use Game Pass is on a damn handheld console.

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