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Is Microsoft Planning an Xbox Handheld?

Microsoft has yet to release an Xbox handheld device, despite the popularity of portable gaming options from competitors like Steam Deck, Sony's PSP and PS Vita, and even Logitech's cloud-focused handheld. Instead, Microsoft has focused on a device-agnostic approach, allowing Xbox players to stream games to their phones, tablets, and other devices.

One of the main reasons for this strategy is Microsoft's emphasis on cloud gaming. By offering Xbox Game Pass subscriptions to iOS and Android users, Microsoft is able to reach a much larger audience. However, playing games on a phone can be challenging due to issues like notifications, battery life, and lack of Wi-Fi in certain situations.

While Microsoft has partnered with Logitech on the Logitech G Cloud Gaming handheld, there is still no official Xbox cloud gaming handheld in sight. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans reveal that the company has previously prototyped a cloud-focused Xbox handheld, but it seems that those plans have been put on hold.

Work on Xbox Cloud Gaming has slowed down within Microsoft over the past year, possibly due to regulatory scrutiny of the company's cloud gaming efforts. Additionally, Microsoft decided against launching a separate version of Xbox Cloud Gaming that players could subscribe to, instead of paying for the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.

While it is uncertain when or if Microsoft will release an Xbox handheld, the company is well-positioned to create a rival to the Steam Deck that runs on Windows and provides access to PC Game Pass, Steam, and other launchers. Asus' ROG Ally has emerged as a popular choice for PC Game Pass on portable devices, and Xbox chief Phil Spencer has expressed his approval of the device.

Ultimately, the decision to release an Xbox handheld may come down to whether Microsoft believes it can improve the user experience of Windows handhelds, as reviews of Steam Deck competitors have often cited user experience issues as drawbacks.

Sources:
– The Verge: Tom Warren
– Image by Tom Warren / The Verge
– Image by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge
– Image by Phil Spencer (X / Twitter)