With rare exception, game consoles are replaced rather than upgraded once their age becomes too apparent to ignore. Consoles have long been affordable, one-size-fits-all boxes, while computers can be customised and upgraded - often at a significant cost.
But there might be a middle ground here, suggests Phil Spencer, Microsoft's head of Xbox. At a recent event that brought us word of Forza Motorsport 6: Apex for Windows 10 and today's Windows release of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Spencer told reporters that the Xbox One could play host to optional hardware upgrades that enhance the experience for players.
"I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we've ever seen," Spencer said, according to Polygon. "You'll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation, allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform. That allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform."
While visions of the Mega-CD and 32X attachments for Sega's 16-bit Mega Drive may pop into your head, that was a very long time ago. Spencer seems serious about letting players utilize their existing hardware to keep their current favourite games, all while enhancing the experience to accommodate more advanced games ahead. The recent addition of Xbox 360 backwards compatibility to Xbox One seems like a first step in that direction, but there's more planned.
"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," he explained. "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."
Asked by Polygon to expand on his ideas, he said, "I'm not going to announce our roadmap for hardware," but he did share more about this philosophy of console upgrades and finding the sweet spot between advancing mobile tech and ever-more-affordable PC gaming. Read the original source story below for more on that front.