Here's why the Xbox Keystone streaming device wasn't released

Supposed Xbox keystone "leak."
(Image credit: @ElrondGaming (via 4chan))

What you need to know

  • Microsoft previously confirmed to Windows Central that it was iterating on "Keystone," a streaming-only Xbox console designed to be an inexpensive point of entry into the Xbox ecosystem. 
  • While Microsoft originally stated in 2020 that it intended to release a dedicated game streaming device within a year, this did not come to fruition.
  • In an interview on the Decoder podcast, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer revealed that the current version of Xbox Keystone didn't go into full production because of pricing issues. 
  • Spencer added that the team is still watching for when that kind of device can happen at "the right cost."

Microsoft is continuing to look at different options for game streaming, but right now, the company is offering a dedicated streaming console. 

Earlier in the year, Windows Central reported that Microsoft was iterating on its planned Xbox Keystone streaming console, working to adjust parts of the design. In an interview on the Decoder podcast (transcribed by The Verge (opens in new tab)) Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer explained why the company has not yet released the Keystone streaming device, despite teasing it on Spencer's now-iconic shelf.

"It was more expensive than we wanted it to be when we actually built it out with the hardware that we had inside. We decided to focus that team’s effort on delivering the smart TV streaming app," Spencer explained, adding that "With Keystone, we’re still focused on it and watching when we can get the right cost."

Spencer went on to explain that because the Xbox Series S is available for $300 and stock is easily found, the team is wary of releasing a lower-tier device at a price that wouldn't make it a great option. This is partially because the device would come bundled with a controller.

"I don’t want to announce pricing specifically, but I think you have to be somewhere around $129, $99 for that to make sense in my view. We just weren’t there with a controller. I love the effort. The reason it’s on my shelf is because the team rolled up their sleeves and in nine months they built that thing. A bunch of us took it home and it worked. It worked really, really well."

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Subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and you'll have access to Xbox Cloud Gaming, which is constantly being supported with new games. There's no dedicated streaming console right now, but that could change in the future. 

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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.