Phil Spencer teases ‘pretty awesome’ Xbox hardware as handheld rumors spike

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has added fuel to the fire surrounding rumors of an upcoming handheld console from Microsoft by teasing that “pretty awesome” hardware is in the works.

The Xbox showcase at Summer Game Fest unveiled a trio of new Xbox consoles coming later this year, including an all-digital Xbox Series X, but while a handheld device wasn’t revealed, rumors of an impeding release or announcement continue to swirl.

Phil Spencer talking about Xbox's future plans.
A big tease. Screenshot by Dot Esports via IGN on YouTube

Rumors of an Xbox handheld device have been spreading like wildfire for months following a trove of leaked Microsoft documents last year during the FTC trial surrounding the Activision Blizzard takeover—and it seems the rumors have legs. While Spencer responded to those leaks by claiming “so much has changed” in regard to these earlier plans, the Xbox handheld rumors have not been put to bed and Spencer may have provided us with our biggest hint so far.

Speaking at IGN Live at Summer Game Fest, Spencer was asked to address the rumors and teased that Microsoft’s hardware is “pretty awesome” and something that he is “incredibly excited about”—with further details on hardware coming in the future. When asked whether a potential Xbox handheld would be a cloud-streaming device or a dedicated gaming platform to rival the likes of the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch, the Xbox boss edged towards the latter, stating he thinks “being able to play games locally is really important.”

A move by Microsoft to a handheld dedicated gaming platform would be a completely different approach to that of rivals Sony who launched the PlayStation Portal last year to surprising success and could be huge. Microsoft has very close ties to PC gaming, but the ability to combine that in a handheld device would be extremely exciting.

Handheld gaming is something where Nintendo had cornered the market for a long time after Sony brought an end to the PSP and Vita days, until the launch of devices like the Steam Deck, and it could become an extremely competitive area in the future.

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