Phil Spencer made an appearance during Microsoft’s Xbox and Windows 10 spring showcase event last week and dropped some tantalizing hints about the possibility of hardware upgrades for the Xbox One and the role of consoles in the future. While there were no official announcements for hardware upgrades, Spencer did say that Microsoft’s Universal Windows Application initiative could allow for the possibility of a console that is not only backwards compatible with previous generations but also forward compatible with future games.
“We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me. Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don’t have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before,” Spencer said.
The good people over at Polygon pressed Spencer for more details and he pointed to Song’s upcoming Virtual Reality headset for the Playstation 4, “I look at the ecosystem that a console sits in and I think that it should have the capability of more iteration on hardware capability. Sony is doing this with VR and adding VR capabilities mid-cycle to the PlayStation 4 and they are doing that by adding another box. I don’t mean that as a negative. But it’s not changing what the core console is about.”
The concept of upgrading console hardware is not unheard of. The Nintendo 64 had a RAM expansion module and the Playstation 2 had a hard drive attachment released years after the consoles launch. The Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx-16 also had CD-ROM add-ons.
Phil Spencer continued to elaborate on why consoles are important, “I still think a console is the best price to performance deal that is out there but when you look at the evolution – I’m not going to announce our road map for hardware – but what I wanted to say on stage for people when they see this vision of ours and question our commitment to console I want to make sure that people see that what we are doing enables us to be more committed to what consoles are about than we’ve ever been and innovate more consistently than we ever have.”