Microsoft confirms Xbox device 'Keystone' — how it will make gaming cheaper

Xbox streaming puck fan render
Xbox streaming puck fan render (Image credit: @Oluxc on Twitter)

Rumors about Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming stick plans swirled around the gaming sphere for years. Last June, the gaming giant announced its intentions to release a cloud-gaming streaming device that reaches gamers "on any TV or monitor without the need for a console at all."

At the time, Microsoft didn't disclose much about the hardware project, but gaming pundits suspected that it could be a Chromecast-esque streaming stick or an Apple TV-like box. As it turns out, the former is true; Windows Central confirmed some juicy details about the cloud-gaming device from Microsoft.

Microsoft confirms Keystone: Xbox Cloud Gaming 'stick'

Hawk-eyed sleuths discovered the code name "Keystone" on an Xbox OS list; the discovery caused some to wonder whether it's a cryptonym for its long-rumored cloud-gaming hardware. According to Windows Central, Microsoft is admitting that Keystone is, indeed, the code name behind its cloud-gaming hardware project.

A spokesperson for the Redmond-based tech giant revealed that Keystone is a modernized HDMI streaming stick that launches its cloud-gaming service and Xbox Game Pass.

"Our vision for Xbox Cloud Gaming is unwavering. Our goal is to enable people to play the games they want, on the devices they want, anywhere they want. As announced last year, we've been working on a game-streaming device," the Microsoft spokesperson said. "As part of any technical journey, we are constantly evaluating our efforts, reviewing our learnings, and ensuring we are bringing value to our customers."

In other words, Microsoft promises to increase access to gaming by offering low-cost hardware to players, however, the Xbox team is still exploring several iterations of Keystone. As such, we likely won't see Keystone in its final form any time soon.

Windows Central speculates that the cloud-gaming stick could run a pared-down version of Windows or Xbox OS, allowing Microsoft to heighten the visibility of its streaming apps (e.g., Microsoft Movies and TV).

Although we don't expect an official announcement about Keystone in the near future, our eyes and ears will be sharp during Microsoft's fast-approaching June 12 Bethesda Showcase event.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!