Xbox Boss Clarifies Console Hardware Upgrade Comments

"I've said the 'end of a generation' and this step-function that happens is not something I embrace."

395 Comments

Earlier this week, Xbox boss Phil Spencer made waves with his comments about the possibility of console hardware one day becoming upgradable. He said the company is building towards a future where its games consoles will be upgradable, allowing the company to keep hardware viable by incrementally increasing its power instead of replacing it with an entirely new device. Some took this to mean that you will literally be able to open up your Xbox One with a screwdriver and make the system more powerful with new components. This is not the plan, Spencer said in an appearance on Major Nelson's latest podcast.

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"Am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces of my console? That's not our plan," he said. "There is something special about what happens with a console. You buy an appliance-like device; you plug it into your TV; it works when you plug it in. It's not like I'm going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out."

Instead, Spencer said he hopes console gaming hardware one day can reach a point where you won't have to wait seven or eight years to see your system become more powerful. An interesting idea, indeed, but Spencer did not share any specifics, saying only that this is a long-term plan.

"What I'm saying is as hardware innovations happen we want to be able to embrace those in the console space," he said. "And make those available and maybe not have to wait seven or eight years for things to happen. But right now, we're not announcing hardware. I'm happy with the console we have and the platform we built on top of that console and the constant innovation and the games that are there. But as a longer-term vision statement I wanted to make sure people understood what we're doing I think is good for the console space in addition to being good for the PC space."

We will let Spencer's words speak for themselves. Here is another segment from his chat with Major Nelson:

"People have asked me before, are we going to do another console, and I say I fully expect that we will. And people say well, why do you say fully expect? Why don't you just say yes? I'm in a job right now--I make decisions based on what's today; I can't always predict the future. But if you think about the strategy we're on, the strategy is a long-term vision that includes multiple hardware generations on both console, and frankly PC."

"So I wanted to explain that what we're doing today I think makes the console ecosystem better, in a way. Because I, both personally, as well as watching what happens in the industry, I've said the 'end of a generation' and this step-function that happens is not something I embrace. I think it's something we can do better at. I see it in music, I see it in books, I see it in movies. When I buy digital content, that digital content stays with me and I'm able to use it when I got out and get new devices."

What do you make of Spencer's take? Let us know in the comments below!

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MadMalcolmDeath

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Xbox failed me, all of us for that matter. So instead of selling us over priced upgrades to get to 60 FPS 1080p with 360p textures.....I would rather the Xbox run 720p @60FPS with 720p textures! The PS4 will run the same games @ 1080p and that is just how it is. My tv will upscale the content and with better textures, franerate with anti-aliasing I would be satisfied. They are trying to get to 1080p and just sacrificing draw distance, polygon count, and texture resolutions which is lame, and by the way isn't really 1080p except for a few items on screen. Just make the damn games true 720p or give me the option! Stop trying to force EVERYONE to have what they THINK the majority wants...give US the option. Next generation they better produce the superior console or I am either switching to Sony or a gaming PC.

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Ronaldo27

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I was considering buying a Xbox One. Now I will wait till E3 to see if there isn´t a new model being released later this year.

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MuffintopX

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So Xbox Two is going to be a Microsoft Steambox then? Buy the level of system you want. All games work, have varying graphical settings. Feel like buying another version in 2 years instead of than 8? Go for it.

My guess.

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torrne667

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Edited By torrne667

So basically a pc then......#SIGH... both ps4 and xbox one are basically using old pc hardware so can we not just create a unified OS where everyone has access to sony/microsoft/nintendo games and each company can just bring out their own peripherals, then, based on preference of controls, everyone can enjoy cool games. Also, this stupid console war can end and the companies can focus on creating good games instead of trying to one up each other and rushing unfinished products out to "win" the other company...just a thought..

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Raveneye

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@torrne667: "This stupid console war can end"
It's called "competition", it's has been there since service-based market exists. "Console war" is just the term some fanboys with 0 knowledge on the former topic started using at some point.

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ktseymour

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It's just like I said, it's PR bs , but also sounds like we'll be seeing a new Xbox in three to four years,probably four.

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Halflight87

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Consoles are gonna b much more expensive.. but it's definitely something the xb has to do to stay in the game.. but with consoles getting more expensive might as well get a pc..

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charlieholmes

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@halflight87: Experienced PC gaming all too much! Switched to console since it's so much more fun to pick up and play,. There is no trouble shooting for hours sometimes just to get a game to run to only have additional bad glitches crop up to further ruin the fun. PC is a hell of a train wreck with all the different hardware configurations, driver versions for each device inside, etc etc.

You can get a better looking game sure, but at the expense of the time you had to play gone due to getting the game and/or mods to properly work. Add to that that the PC, a quality one to drive those increased graphics quality, is gonna cost you much more than a console ever would and yeah, I no longer want anything to do with that crazy world. Too cost prohibited (time and money) when weighed against the ease of a console.

I spent too many wasted years of my life on the PC. If it works for you then good. Just doesn't work for me anymore. Too little free time to waste not getting to actually play.

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elessarGObonzo

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not that much is made clear here but it sounds like if you didn't feel like upgrading you could easily just stick with low settings and low frame rates. no where did i get the feeling they were intending everyone would have to buy upgrades to play anything like many are insinuating.

if/when this "upgradable" console reached the marketplace anyway.

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Pops4657

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It would be nice if they made a console where the games are custom made for the console and it was up to you.if you wanted to upgrade to tweek your settings.and if after five years the engines they are using Is only compatible with the high end stuff you buy separate just an announce it at a meeting like e3 or something

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IAmMcGruber

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I think nobody really knows what the hell MS's plans are and are speculating and jumping to huge conclusions. Once again, MS not being very clear in their communication, but also everyone guessing on whats to happen next.

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MsiAsusIntel

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I see only bad things coming with sutch ideas, a modular console with Ms proprietary upgradable overprized modules its already a robery with ms gold now imagine , 150$ hdd module, 100$ram expansion module, 200$ gpu module,and you would be able to pre order modules isnt that great?its a goldmine for ms if the retarded peasants acept it, like a pc but bound and locked to a single company with no freedom, too many things can go wrong, a console is a console, the peasants are a lazy bunch thay know nothing of teck and barely fork out 400$ ms can rob them and they dont care, what a future console needs is to be more powerfull 450/500$ range im sure the peasants can save a bit more, upgrades are meant for pc , if you bought back in the day say a i5 2500 8 gbram and a gtx560, you could just buy a 960 or a 380 now for around 200$ and your golden , i dont like to be locked to a single company that decides what youcan or canot do and charges you what they want , i love the pc because of the freedom of choice both on software and hardware and no fees for online play , the day i lose that freedom is the day i will start to pirate games.

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JoshRMeyer

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@msiasusintel: 1 period in all that rambling? That's the longest sentence ever.

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scatterbrain007

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@joshrmeyer: Not to mention "your" instead of "you're". The only "I" on there that's capitalized is the very first one that started the "paragraph", and no apostrophes used on any contractions. PC master race... woo hoo.

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sev2010

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Edited By sev2010

Why not just following the same strategies you employed for xbox360, the only console that actually managed to establish the Xbox brand amonst gamers?

Release the next Xbox by the name of 'Xbox 2 windows/TV hassle free' and everyone will be happy.

Make an Xbox for gamers and your hardware will sell itself without any problem.

People love xbox, but they don't like you (Microsoft) and your greedy business plans.

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JoshRMeyer

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@sev2010: If they do release another console I hope they don't call it xbox 2... if anything it should be xbox4 or something cool like the 360 was.

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scatterbrain007

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@joshrmeyer: Quite honestly, I've never liked the names that Microsoft came up for their consoles. The word "Xbox" is just EXTREEEEME sounding to begin with. "Xbox 360" is even more extreme, and Xbox One is just plain silly. The systems themselves are great. The names are just silly in my opinion.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

@sev2010: All the people that made Xbox and Xbox 360 good left, near the end of the 360's life it's like MS management took the reigns and started taking over the decision making process. Before that it was like a closed off incubator for a great console and now it's run just like any other ms product.

They used to have people who knew what they were doing and knew what gamers wanted. Then they brought in TV, HDMI-in, this idea of the One Box, forced Kinect 2, lost sight of the primary focus on games.

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face76

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I think the whole upgrade your console thing is good and bad. Good is that we get to make our consoles better quicker. This will also make the consoles closer to pcs, which in turn should lead to more pc games coming on consoles. This could make consoles cost less at release. You could buy a console with lesser specs and upgrade what you want. The bad is that games will start to require certain hardware requirements. So unless you have so much ram or a certain level graphics card you might not be able to play certain games. Just like the pc. Also this could get expensive. At what point do you stop upgrading your console and just build/buy a pc. If MS makes the upgrade parts proprietary that would be trouble. These consoles are custom built. So if these upgrade parts are custom then they could cost a lot of money.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

@face76: Bad is we have to pay money on hardware more often. Get a PC if you want that.

Consoles won't cost less at release unless they are underpowered, you want them to sell underpowered machines at launch so they can sell you an overpriced upgrade later? You're not putting generic parts into an Xbox. Again if you want to do that, get a PC. That choice is easier now that the same games will be on both anyway.

PC games can already come to console all they want, especially the X1 which has PC parts and runs a PC OS.

I don't see the advantage of sacrificing their console line to make a worse PC.

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xspartanx3x

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I don't think you realize this is a little to late for that. Plug ins really? not only do we have to use external HD for memory but now you want to do the same with GPU'S? are you idiots or what. Who the heck wants to have crap hanging out of there console every witch way. No Don effed you guys up from the start except it. Now Make another console that is fully backwards compatible, isn't under powered, and or that is up gradable from the inside. In other words make a true successor the Xbox 360. The xbox one has been a failure it has significantly improved from launch but it's still not what we Xbox owners wanted. What I say should be done is make a new xbox one give people the option to trade in their xbox one for a limited amount of time and since it's going to be more powerful make us pay 100 more bucks to get the new Xbox. Similar to what Nintendo offered with the New 3ds.

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sev2010

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Edited By sev2010

@xspartanx3x: "in other words make a true successor the Xbox 360"

I think you spoke the mind of many xbox fans by this.

Xbox one was not desined with gamers in mind. Now, they want to fix a mistake by making another.

This is stupid as it has proven itself to be. In fact, if one looks at the similar attempts made by Sega and Atari, s/he would understand that such annoncements are not only good news for gamers but also a sign of probable complete demise of a brand.

Look at Sega 32X, a desperate attempt to expand the lifespan of Sega mega drive, and we all know how it ended up. Take Atari Jaguar as another example, another failure in increasing the sale rate of a console that had not lived up to its expections.

Although MS may come out with fresh ideas for Xbox upgrade, it is still a desprate attempt to fix a mistake that was made years ago when they were planning on making xboxone.

I think they should listen to gamers and, as you mentioned, make a true successor to Xbox360 and stop goofing around testing new stupid business plans.

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Drkoolbeanz

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So basically like a windows pc for poor people or gamers that can't operate hand tools?

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GirlUSoCrazy

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@Drkoolbeanz: It will be more expensive than the same generic PC parts I'm sure. So a more expensive PC for people who don't use tools I guess?

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TPoppaPuff

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We don't have to wait 7 or 8 years for a new console. That was an aberration, not the new norm. Release a new console every five years like it's supposed to be and people will be happy. The moment I have to upgrade every year or two years so that my Xbox can play the latest Xbox games at full capacity is the day I never buy Xbox products again and stick with Sony and Nintendo only.

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Zzshock

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Edited By Zzshock

@tpoppapuff: well, what if it'a gpu swap which is just as easy as a hdd swap and it only costs $150 every 2-3 years? And the original hardware lasts 10 years or so...and then what if all games still run on the original box but, your new gpu may have advanced lighting/reflections or a frame rate/resolution boost to the exact same game????

I'd take that in a heartbeat.

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V-Nine

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..sounds like MS still wants cloud processing to be a thing. Not if the internet companies have anything to say about it.

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JoeBobaHEAD

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They should make the parts more like a "snap-in / snap-out" system. Need more storage, pop out the harddrive, pop in a new one. More ram, faster processor or graphics card? Snap out. Snap in. They focus on games and the upgradable hardware rather then releasing a whole new console every 8 years.

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Moonco

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Edited By Moonco  Moderator

Phil spent more time defending MS policies this week than being with his family. Think I'll bake some of my delicious chocolate chip cookies to cheer him up

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kentray1985

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Edited By kentray1985

Like I have told people several times, being able to go into your console and add different parts to it to upgrade sounded ridiculous to all who thought of it. It goes to show you how many people dont research technology. Dont know why Phil keeps speaking out on these things when the average gamer is not tech smart at all. Most knew what he was referring to but they play dumb to get views on their videos because we all know people gravitate to hate and controversy. My advice for Microsoft, do more showing and less talking because too many will not even understand and knock down the idea before they even knew what it was or how it would benefit a gamer. They will just call innovation a gimmick because they are perfectly ok with cellphones and tablets becoming more graphical then their consoles. By the way everyone, phil was referring to cloud computing. Please take time to do research, thats what google is for. Stop speculating and causing even more confusion.

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TPoppaPuff

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@kentray1985: Upgrading a system was never hard to do. It's exceptionally easy even on PC for anyone willing to put forth the effort. The problem is you're under the assumption everyone want's to pay a couple hundred dollars every year to play games. I am definitively that I do not. I play console games based on faith. Faith that the product I buy today will be able to play the game's today and the games four years from now to their fullest on that console. When you tell me I have to keep paying console manufacturers' ridiculous prices on components every year to keep my experience current then I don't want to play on that device.

That's your actual market research: consumers don't want to keep buying consoles like it's an iphone where it becomes obsolete in two years.

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kentray1985

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@tpoppapuff: Lets get this straight because im really tired of hearing it. Changing out parts to your Xbox one to upgrade it was never said by Phil Spencer and he was only using the upgrade of cell phones and PC as examples. If you follow the tech behind MS you would've understood that he was referring to cloud computing when he mentions a upgradeable Xbox one. Through a internet connection you could get PC like graphics with your Xbox one so gamers actually having that type of upgrade option is the best thing that has ever happened for online gaming. Im guessing Phil doesnt comes out and say this because he will be showcasing more of this with Crackdown 3 during E32016.

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TPoppaPuff

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Edited By TPoppaPuff

@kentray1985: I never claimed that he said swapping out parts was the plan. I said it's easy to do even in a PC. On a modular console, if such a thing existed, where the parts would be self contained and easily detachable, it would be even easier. Ease of upgrading however, is not the reason people were upset. It was the feeling of abandonment and the constant threat of having to upgrade to keep current.

Also, would you like to retract your statement about the upgrade coming through the cloud? Now that the Scorpio is announced, your assertion that he meant cloud computing was the upgrade path seems a bit silly, don't ya think?

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letsgame82

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Edited By letsgame82

Why not spend some of those billions on a decent spec console to last a gen so there's no need for upgrades or quick console cycles? Price is not the only reason some us strictly game on consoles , I haven't got time to be upgrading my console every year, check minimum required specs etc most etc I don't care about 4k gaming if it's not on a console, 1080p 30fps should've been minimum this gen and the X1 specs are not quite good enough for some games but 900p is decent! Some people brag about 4K gaming but spend majority of time playing games that don't take advantage of their expensive hardware because at the end of the day, if a game is good gamers will play it. Microsoft need to just concentrate on new 1st party studio games and the rest will sort itself out. PS3 had a terrible start last gen due to it's pricing and 1 year delay but eventually won the gen because Sony invested in their 1st party studio's and the exclusives sold the console. I don't think Phil is actually running Xbox as he wished he could but merely just lip service for Microsoft hence all these apologies and clarifications.

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kentray1985

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@letsgame82: You are actually just running your mouth and using negative lip service. Of course next gen MS will slaughter the competition with specs but for now to keep up with the Cellphone and Tablet market having a optional upgrade to your Xbox one is a great idea and you would be getting it through a online connection, not by changing out parts like a PC. Key word (OPTIONAL) meaning if you're ok with the Xbox one graphics you cant opt not to use it. For people who are moving on to 4k tvs and want the best out of tgeir Xbox one is great news. You arent following the technology and just blabbing, and doing a whole lot of speculating. Google can be your best friend, dont avoid it!

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letsgame82

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@kentray1985: lol negative lip service! Is that like double double standard?? If they start doing all those things you say this gen, they are admitting that the realised an overpriced and Underpowered console, tgwn people will start questioning their earlier statements about how DX12 and freeing the Kinect will have every game performing in native 1080p. Microsoft are not interested in Xbox consoles, more in expanding the Xbox brand which worries console gamers like myself because I've invested in both current gen consoles. 4K TVs but not alot of 4K content so what's the point?? Even majority of PC gamers game in 1080p or 1440p! Like I said Microsoft just missed the mark on the X1 specs but that can all be sorted if they get it right next gen, there's always a middle ground for Consoles each gen which is good enough for the whole gen. We were happily gaming in around 480p-720p last gen while PC were gaming in even high res, so what's changed this gen that some people are accepting this changes? Is it because PS4 in most cases outperforms the X1 in comparison and you don't like how it makes you feel?? I've the accepted the facts and gladly enjoy both systems, PS4 for multiplats and Exclusives and Xbox One for Exclusives!

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kentray1985

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Edited By kentray1985

@letsgame82: Cellphones and Tablets are already about to start getting chips that out perform the Ps4 and Xbox one next year. Devs are already pushing towards mobile. The Cellphone and Tablet market is winning. It will be so embarrassing to see a 9 year old walking around with a 8inch tab playing a game that has better graphics than my four hundred dollar consoles. There is already games on Ios and Android that look better than games on Xbox 360 and Ps3. Why do you think a big company like Nintendo is trying to fuze their new console with the android market. Like MS is fuzing their Xbox brand with the PC market this is the best way to survive. Sony has also secretly fuzed the Ps4 with PC now you have more PC games showing up on Ps4 and you can cross play with these games. Meaning PC and Ps4 gamers can play with each other in these games. I love that cloud computing will bring great graphical capabilities to Xbox one but the whole pushing Xbox one games to PC stuff I understand why people are mad. I love consoles and Xbox games so eventhough I have a PC I will still be playing on Xbox one because its easier. I work everyday, dont have time to fiddle with my PC all the time. Just want to come home, kick my feet up, and play. Not come home push a PC button, check for updates, click on the game, and lay back in a computer chair. Its very expensive to get your PC and games loading up fast. It takes a expensive Cpu, a expensive ssd card, and a good graphic card that could run you over $200.

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Myron117

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Edited By Myron117

@kentray1985: "I work everyday, dont have time to fiddle with my PC all the time. Just want to come home, kick my feet up, and play. Not come home push a PC button, check for updates, click on the game, and lay back in a computer chair. Its very expensive to get your PC and games loading up fast. It takes a expensive Cpu, a expensive ssd card, and a good graphic card that could run you over $200."

I work every day and i dont fiddle with anything. The updates are automatically installed (if any). You push a button on your console, your console will check for updates (especially Xbox side) you still have to select your game from the console be it from the library or your shelf. Why is it expensive to get your PC and games to load up fast??? Yes the CPU's are expensive but most quad cores will do as the requirements are always bloated. SSD Card??? a Good graphics card is needed but you only ever need to upgrade every, what, 3 - 5 years? The games themselves can be bought 50% of a consoles game price on launch saving you £17-£20/$30 per game. That game go towards more games or saved toward the hardware. Your choice.

Because PC's are about choice and being open.

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kentray1985

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Edited By kentray1985

@Myron117: No sir a PC has to be maintained better than that. Any smart PC gamer would know theres more to just pushing a button and playing on PC. The good ssd's already cost over $250 and the lowest cost for a good cpu is between $180 and $220. A decent motherboard would cost around $180 to $300. A decent gpu that will run todays graphics with a decent framerate would cost between $250 and $350. A nice cooler for your cpu would cost between $99 and $130. All of this is if you go the building route but you can get cheap PC's for $400 but you would still need to upgrade the gpu and Cpu if you want to run some high settings. 4k is out of the questuon for the cheap route. Bottom line a PC can get very expensive especially if you want to run some of todays games on high settings.

With kinect for Xbox one I can just call out the game I want to play but most dont care for that easy option. Loading up games is already way quicker with my external ssd drive. Its just way easier to come home and turn on my console than my PC. Consoles are a preference for me. It doesnt have to be for you but I know the difference between PC gaming and consoles. From my experience the console is the way to go for easy access to gaming. A PC is like a big baby, it has to be maintained and monitored.

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sladakrobot

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@kentray1985: And these smartphones and tablets cost $1000 or more

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kentray1985

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@sladakrobot: Thats not stopping the mass from picking up these devices but the negativity around consoles is making you make a choice where those who choose smart devices are all under two huge platforms. Those platforms will outperform Current gen in the next year or so and while console gamers are making up petty arguments devs will be making their transition over to those winning platforms. I dont think half the people understands why Microsoft and Sony speaks of upgradeabe consoles. No one ever reads or follows technology anymore which makes sense that everyone thought that when Phil Spencer spoke of upgradeable consoles he was speaking of switching out parts to the Xbox one. That sounded ridiculous!

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R4gn4r0k

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"But if you think about the strategy we're on, the strategy is a long-term vision that includes multiple hardware generations on both console, and frankly PC."

Something that the previous buffoon that ran Xbox (Don Mattrick) forgot about. He closed so many first and second party studios, murdered PC studios because he didn't have a long term vision.

Phil Spencer is still trying to fix the damage done.

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ishsgames

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if MS releases an xbox that plays all x1 games with no issues and:

(1) support hardware upgrades

(2) games are developed within the range of the new hardware upgrades similarly to PC

(3) hardware prices are reasonable

Then i would welcome it :). Developers, quite honestly bltch and moan too much despite all these inexcusable broken launches. These consoles were designed with similar hardware all around and Dx11...infamous for massive amounts of API overhead is gone and its only Dx12+openGL which are far more efficient.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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@ishsgames: I don't know if they will, X1 games are licensed only for X1, and like 360 games on X1 they will need publisher approval to put X1 games on this new modular platform.

Maybe they will have new licensing terms for games going forward but you'll never get the full X1 library unless they have full hardware compatibility.

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atherworld

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Of course he won't ship a screwdriver set. More money to be made if sold separately.

Seriously, Nintendo's tried this before. Expansion Pack. A better chip built into one of the Star Fox games. Neither really worked well. If you didn't buy the Expansion pack, you couldn't play the games that supported it. Thankfully, only a few ever did before this idea faded away.

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kentray1985

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@atherworld: Know what you are talking about before commenting. Look up cloud computing on google. Cloud computing is what he referring to when he say upgradeable consoles. Thats what Sony is currently doing with VR. They are adding a second device that could enhance the Ps4.

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wanderz

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upgrading to a new system every couple years will never ever work.. there is no way.. just ask apple they tried it with that iphone thing nobody has ever heard of... oh wait, no.

yeah there is obviously ways that it CAN work... will they get it right with the first try, probably not.

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atherworld

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@wanderz It's also why ma y folks hate Apple. Many won't buy iPhones because of price of constant upgrades. Microsoft would be shooting themselves in the foot. Making sure they have less customers over all.

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Ka0t1c

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applicance?

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