Microsoft And The Xbox Shifting Away From Packaged Products In The Future

By Juan G. Rodriguez , Updated Jan 14, 2013 12:50 PM EST

Is the future of Microsoft's next Xbox in the Cloud? According to a new article from Eurogamer, Microsoft is looking to get away from physical media and move towards a connected entertainment services.

In a recent media briefing, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division for the EMEA territory, Phil Harrison explained how the Xbox would progress in the future.

"As we look to the future of our industry, increasingly the games, the IPs and the content, are going to sit on the cloud, powered by Xbox but accessible through a variety of devices," Harrison said. "Rather than our games being device-centric, they will become cloud-centric. This is a general trend you will see more of as we go forward."

He says that Microsoft's game will still be the best on the Xbox console, but will also show up on other SmartGlass devices.

"Our games, yes, they will have the best GPU, CPU, immersive experience on Xbox 360, but they will also show up on Windows Phone, on Surface, on Windows 8 and on other compatible devices through SmartGlass," Harrison said.

Harrison says that Microsoft will make a shift from packaged products to connected entertainment services, but that shift will be gradual.

"That is the thread you will see us develop over the coming years. It's not a change we're going to make immediately. We will continue to support retail products with our key releases for sure," Harrison said. "But everything we do will have increasingly deep social and additional features that are reliant on the network that are unlocked by the network and enhanced by the network through Xbox Live and beyond."

He says that this is a key strategic shift Microsoft is making with its business, as the company moves away from being a "maker of packaged products" to becoming an "operator of connected services." But Microsoft still views physical games as a great entry point into gaming.

"The way I would encourage you to think about it for the future is that the disc is the starting point of what might be a five year relationship with the player and a five year relationship from us as a game maker to the community, and being able to respond to their needs and wishes and desires and help refine and build and extend the product over many months and, hopefully, if you have a great hit, over many years," Harrison said.

He added, "It's not mutually exclusive. That doesn't mean you have to stop doing disc products in order to be cloud centric or service centric. The two are entirely compatible with each other."

You can read the rest of Harrison's speech at the media briefing here on Eurogamer. What do you think about Microsoft's future plans? Tell us what you think in the comment section below... 

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