A recent massive leak from the FTC v. Microsoft court battle has revealed some exciting plans for the future of Xbox gaming. In addition to details about a mid-generation Xbox Series X console, the leaked documents also outlined Microsoft’s tentative plans for the next-generation Xbox, which it refers to as a “hybrid game platform.” According to a leaked presentation from May 2022, this new system aims to combine local hardware with cloud computing to create an immersive game and app platform expected to arrive around 2028.
The leaked slides from the presentation showcase Microsoft’s vision for the next-gen Xbox. One slide reads, “Our vision: Develop a next-generation hybrid game platform capable of leveraging the combined power of the client and cloud to deliver deeper immersion and entirely new classes of game experiences.” Microsoft aims to optimize this platform for real-time gameplay and creators, pushing performance beyond the capabilities of client hardware alone. The slides project the release of the next-gen Xbox in 2028, featuring “cloud hybrid games” and an “immersive game and app platform.”
On the hardware side, Microsoft envisions incorporating next-gen features such as DirectX raytracing, dynamic global illumination, ML-based super resolution, and micropolygon rendering optimization. The system’s versatility would allow it to support various types of devices, ranging from powerful consoles to more affordable “Thin OS… $99 consumer or handheld devices” that rely on xCloud computing.
The concept of “hybrid compute” distinguishes Microsoft’s future vision from traditional cloud gaming. This approach aims to combine hardware and cloud computing to display in-game elements simultaneously. For example, primary characters would run on the local GPU while NPCs, background elements, and more would be generated remotely.
AI and machine learning (ML) are also core components of Microsoft’s next-gen gaming plans. Neural networks would power features like super resolution, frame rate interpretation, and latency compensation, enhancing game experiences for players. ML would also play a significant role in improving creator tools, game testing, procedural content generation, and optimizing live operations.
The leaked slides mention the importance of partnerships and decisions regarding hardware components. Microsoft appears to be considering deals with AMD for Navi 5 graphics and Zen 6 CPU cores. Additionally, the company needs to make an “Arm64 decision.” While the slides provide insights into Microsoft’s planning process, they are preliminary and subject to change. However, they do reveal a roadmap that suggests hardware and game design would begin in 2024, with developer kits becoming available by 2027 and shipping starting in 2028.
The presentation slides are part of a broader conversation that sheds light on the company’s overall strategy. CEO Satya Nadella and Xbox’s Phil Spencer discuss the development of four types of computers: cloud everything, a hybrid Xbox, hybrid Windows, and hybrid HoloLens. Nadella emphasizes the need for aligning the company’s systems talent on a unified vision and avoiding a fragmented approach to innovation.
Furthermore, the leaked documents suggest Microsoft’s exploration of a “mobile controller” concept, where the controller would take on a prominent role in the gaming experience. This indicates that Microsoft was still honing its vision for the next-gen Xbox at the time of the presentation, which means the final product may differ from the leaked details.
In conclusion, the leaked documents from the FTC v. Microsoft court battle have provided intriguing insights into Microsoft’s plans for the future of Xbox gaming. The leaked presentation highlights the company’s ambition to create an immersive game and app platform through the integration of local hardware and cloud computing. With advanced features like AI, ML, and next-gen technologies, Microsoft aims to deliver new classes of gameplay experiences while pushing the boundaries of performance. While the leaked details provide a glimpse into Microsoft’s vision, it’s important to note that plans may evolve over time as the company continues its development process.