3 things Xbox's rumored handheld console needs to do to succeed

Xbox handheld gaming console
(Image credit: Xbox)

Xbox is rumored to be developing more than one Xbox handheld console prototype according to Windows Central's Jez Corden. On the Xbox Two podcast, a user asked whether the Xbox handheld console would be launching this year. Corden explained that the company has new handheld prototypes, and while it doesn't necessary mean it'll go to market, he believes the landscape Microsoft would be "insane" to not pursue bringing them to a full launch.

Corden says his belief in the console coming to fruition is "purely on the basis of hard analysis." While he can confirm that the prototypes are in development, he doesn't have confirmation on whether or not they are actually happening.

Xbox might have a handheld gaming console

Beyond what we know from rumors, many are hoping that Xbox's dedicated handheld device doesn't mirror the PlayStation Portal. People want something with proper hardware rather than a streaming machine. He ends it off with "I just really believe they're making one," and goes on to say "no one has debunked a handheld to me."

As an intense lover of all things handheld gaming, these rumors make me giddy. But it's also easy to put into question, as the necessity of the company entering this space depends on certain factors.

It's important to keep in mind that every single Xbox exclusive launches to PC as well. With consoles like the Asus ROG Ally, MSI Claw, and Lenovo Legion Go, those titles are already completely playable. Whereas the availability of PlayStation exclusives is dependent on which titles they decide to port to PC, it's easy to see why owners of Windows handheld devices would not benefit much, if at all, from a dedicated Xbox device.

PlayStation Remote Play Asus ROG Ally

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Momo Tabari)

But there are three key advantages a dedicated Xbox handheld console can bring over any of these Windows-based devices. If Xbox doesn't hit these three points, the device could struggle to find its place in a market that can already play many Xbox titles. Otherwise, I'm super excited to see what it looks like if it does come to fruition.

1. Competitive pricing

Microsoft can make a strong push into success through competitive pricing. The appeal of Xbox Game Pass cannot be denied, and with Windows handheld consoles starting from $399 and getting as expensive as $749, the company would create lots of appeal with prices matching Nintendo Switch

If a device like this launched at $299, undercutting most other handheld consoles, it would find a strong place in the market for an inexpensive way to enjoy a huge library of of Xbox Game Pass titles.

2. An expanded game library

Everything Microsoft places on Xbox Game Pass for console is not necessarily available on the PC version and vice versa. There are plenty of console-only titles that I cannot not play on my ROG Ally. At the time of writing this article, there are 502 Game Pass console games, and only 458 on PC. If the company ensures its library is consistent between Xbox consoles and an Xbox handheld, it would be a solid reason for some to pick it up over an ROG Ally or similar.

3. Clever optimization

Microsoft can dedicate resources to optimization in ways that wouldn't work as well on any PC. Even with worse hardware on paper, the company could absolutely manage better performance in any number of clever ways by ensuring exclusives run as well as possible on a handheld device.

Claire Tabari
Contributing Writer

Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Claire finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Claire is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.