Xbox: Former Boss Opens Up About Handheld Console Attempts

The top of an Xbox Series X

Last week was a rollercoaster for the Xbox brand. From doubling the price of Xbox Live Gold to immediately backpedaling the same day , Xbox avoided a catastrophe.

This week, however, some unexpected news surfaced about previous attempts at a shakeup in the handheld market from Xbox.

SEVERAL PITCHES FOR A HANDHELD XBOX

During a live stream of the New York Game Awards, as reported by GamesRadar+ , former Microsoft President of Entertainment & Devices Division Robbie Bach discussed multiple attempts of Xbox employees pitching handheld Xbox consoles during his tenure.

Bach said that three pitches referred to the project as “Xboy:”

"During my time at Xbox, there were at least three groups that presented portable Xbox presentations … They always got called Xboy for some reason. Would have been a trademark problem, I'm sure. All three times we decided not to do it."

For the rest of his nine years at Xbox, Bach continued to turn down other pitches for handheld Xbox devices. Bach said the prospect of a portable Xbox "just would not die."

THE “XBOY” WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE

Despite its competitors finding success in the handheld market, Xbox never fully developed a working handheld for consumers. Its strategy has always focused on a console box, and it has bounced between marketing its consoles as all-in-one entertainment centers or gaming-focused machines.

As GamesRadar+ notes, Xbox has – in its own way – tapped into the mobile market through Xbox Game Pass, which is available for Android users. Going forward, this will undoubtedly be the way Xbox continues to find success in that sphere. There is much less of an upfront cost to get people to buy into the Xbox ecosystem because consumers only need to download an app rather than buy a handheld system.

Though “Xboy” would have likely not been the official name of the handheld, it’s interesting that it was seemingly designed as a rival to Nintendo’s Game Boy. Xbox traditionally hasn’t competed against Nintendo as much as it has against PlayStation. In fact, the two have been working together in recent years. If the “Xboy” had come to fruition, it’s possible that Xbox and Nintendo’s relationship would be very different today.

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