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Rick Dangerous

Why has Microsoft never attempted a hand-held console?

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I'm curious why they've never tried it? I mean they made an MP3 player and that worked out great for them, so why not a hand held gaming device?

 

In all seriousness though, I wonder if they did a cost benefit analysis of going up against Nintendo and decided the juice wouldn't be worth the squeeze? That didn't seem to deter Sony...

 

Interesting that they are the only major console manufacturer with no hand held offering. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.

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If you think about it what they did with the 360 maybe they probably just didn't want to focus on a handheld, I mean when I first played the 360 it was a completely brand new experience. The network, achievements the whole infrastructure probably took a lot of resources even for them. In a way I'm glad they didn't

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Microsoft sustained a massive financial loss launching and supporting the first Xbox, about 5bil I think. This was a part of their long game. A portable wouldn't have helped, especially in the face of the phenomenally successful GBA/DS line.

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I'm curious why they've never tried it? I mean they made an MP3 player and that worked out great for them, so why not a hand held gaming device?

 

In all seriousness though, I wonder if they did a cost benefit analysis of going up against Nintendo and decided the juice wouldn't be worth the squeeze? That didn't seem to deter Sony...

 

Interesting that they are the only major console manufacturer with no hand held offering. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.

 

MP3 player worked out for them? The Zune seemed like a flop to me.

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I don't think they could translate the type of games Xbox is known for over to a decently priced handheld. I shudder at the thought of someone trying to translate the controls for Halo or Gears of War onto a DS or PSP like handheld.

 

Also people really like Xbox Live and I think that it would've been hard to do something like it for a handheld and be reliable until recently.

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Microsoft did in fact come pretty close, but they (I believe correctly) determined that it would not have been a good market to enter, particularly since they'd have little chance of gaining traction in handheld-crazy Japan. Now, obviously, the idea of a mainstream handheld gaming system is kind of dated. There's a reason the Vita never really took off, and it's not because it wasn't a good system. The Vita is all but irrelevant outside of Japan, and I see little incentive for Sony to release another gaming handheld. I don't think Nintendo will bother either after the 3DS runs its course in another year or so, instead doubling down on the hybrid Switch concept (which, presumably, will be a good business for them), and presumably any handheld-optimized offshoots of that.

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I get the feeling they at one point wanted to....but some territories might not give them full support.

Japan being that one area where they want nothing XBox.

I think it could have its own audience in the U.S. and Europe,but they'd have to really commit to it

with franchises that are their own.

Bring back RallySport,Fable,Amped,PGR,BloodWake,Crimson Skies,Midtown Madness,and maybe license others through their second party developers

(Sunset Overdrive,Quantum Break,Alan Wake)

 

But really get behind it,dont half ass it. I think that might be why they haven't made one. Unless they fully commit and are prepared to unload allot of money

into a tough market,they'd rather just ease back and release Minecraft and the occasional Rare game on Nintendo & mobile platforms.

Edited by PhoenixMoonPatrol

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I think it could have its own audience in the U.S. and Europe,but they'd have to really commit to it

with franchises that are their own.

Bring back RallySport,Fable,Amped,PGR,BloodWake,Crimson Skies,Midtown Madness,and maybe license others through their second party developers

(Sunset Overdrive,Quantum Break,Alan Wake)

 

But really get behind it,dont half ass it. I think that might be why they haven't made one. Unless they fully commit and are prepared to unload allot of money

into a tough market,they'd rather just ease back and release Minecraft and the occasional Rare game on Nintendo & mobile platforms.

 

There would be no reason for them to release an Xbox Handheld anymore. It's a declining market and there's no reason to think that that decline will stop. There's simply no mainstream market for something like this anymore, particularly as smartphones (and to a lesser degree, tablets), continue their dominance. It's almost never about the best device for a given task, but often more about the most convenient. You can't beat the convenience of the one device that's with you all the time. And it's not like there's even much of a kid's market left either, because that's served just fine by smartphones and tablets.

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Who says they haven't? They're experimenting all the time. They trash more stuff in their research labs than most companies bring to market.

 

Microsoft has been in mobile/handheld for a very long time, though not for dedicated gaming devices. The PocketPC was a neat platform. It had tiny mindshare compared to Palm at the time -- which kinda reminds me of Atari Lynx vs. Gameboy. The lesson, that we've seen many many times: lots of software on cheap, modest hardware with long battery life beat the "superior" tech every time. There aren't many PocketPC game sites left, but this one gives an idea of what was available. Here's a hardware review that gives a flavor of the tech of the time. Flash drives were measured in megabytes, and connecting them to the internet was a pain in the ass. PocketPC was ahead of its time, in a bad way.

 

51EGQ2SH7XL.jpg

 

Windows CE technology was used in the Dreamcast, and we know how that ended up.

 

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Their Zune players had games on them, too. I know of one person who was really into it.

 

zunefan.jpg

 

Believe it or not, Windows Phone is still available, though I wouldn't be super surprised to see it fade away soon.

 

windows-phone-games.jpg

 

Phones are a way bigger market than dedicated game players. Microsoft couldn't make a play with phones, so I don't really see why they'd bother with mobile/handheld gaming, especially since they're doing OK with Xbox. They're not really the giant megacorp they seem to be, they're really more like many smaller, loosely affiliated and sometimes competing business units. I think they're less dysfunctional under Nadella, but here's an old joke about them from the Gates/Ballmer days.

 

microsoft-org-chart.jpg

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Who says they haven't? They're experimenting all the time. They trash more stuff in their research labs than most companies bring to market.

 

I'm too lazy to do the research, but I distinctly recall someone at Microsoft confirming that they were working on something at one point, although they did confirm that it ultimately went nowhere.

 

 

Believe it or not, Windows Phone is still available, though I wouldn't be super surprised to see it fade away soon.

 

This one was recently published (99.6% of new smartphones run iOS or Android; RIP Windows and Blackberry), so yeah, I agree it's time to call it. I'm sure they'll still continue their corporate strategy, and certainly Windows is already set up to be fully modular, etc., but I think their consumer ambitions are done. Perhaps the most interesting thing may be if they release an Android-based Surface phone that might also be able to work as a Continuum device. I know I'd have some interest in that.

 

 

They're not really the giant megacorp they seem to be, they're really more like many smaller, loosely affiliated and sometimes competing business units. I think they're less dysfunctional under Nadella, but here's an old joke about them from the Gates/Ballmer days.

 

I agree. The Microsoft of now is relatively agile and pretty innovative, particularly in terms of computing hardware. I'm a fan.

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Look at it this way, if you could get in a time machine and go back to 2000, and tell the board of directors at Microsoft that over the next 20 years, consoles, handhelds, and PCs would all fade in importance due to mobile devices... would they ever have made the original XBox in the first place? I'm thinking no. The XBox division was a deliberate attempt to make sure Microsoft had a presence in a future where people preferred consoles over PCs... but they didn't see the mobile device being the upset it actually was. Hindsight being what it is, I bet Microsoft wishes they made the first Smartphone rather than another PlayStation.

 

So I don't think they see a point in trying to sink into the portable market. It's a declining business with a huge, established competitor.

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We're seeing Microsoft attempting Xbone and PC convergence -- Forza Horizon 3 is "buy once, play anywhere" which is kinda nice.

 

Gaming laptops are affordable now, and they're only going to get cheaper and better. I think that's the Microsoft gaming portable to watch.

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I don't think they'd bother because they lack some key stuff. An interested base in a MS strictly setup handheld. The largest mobile market (Japan/Asia in general) hates them and mostly refuses to buy their consoles as it is. And it would also kind of be screwing themselves since they already have a marketplace as it is with every single Windows Phone/Tablet so they'd be fighting against themselves for market share which would just be stupid.

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I too would love to see a handheld that played original XBOX games. Most of those games supported 480p and would look AMAZING on a portable screen. But... I don't think anybody at Microsoft has any passion for handhelds. I don't have any real reason to believe that...it's just a feeling, I guess.

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Puts on his ruthless compete hat . . .

 

The consumer biz for Microsoft is about branding and perception. MS just needs a few signature items to be cool outside of the server room/datacenter. This helps people feel good about MS. Its working too just by reading the small sample size on this thread, and monitoring the stock price.

 

A few years ago, the strategy shifted towards trying to compete on the high end tablet market. That's where Microsoft can hurt Apple the worst. Apple has only 2 products that cost a lot and generate big profit. Fighting the phone didn't work, so MS iterated on Surface, and it has pretty much succeeded. Since MS has lots of money making products, they can take risks and try to hit Apple right where it hurts the most. Every time someone buys a surface they might have taken away 1 iPad sale. Each one of those is a big hit to Apple. By contrast, if you sell a ton of cheap phones (the MS phone did do well in low end models) or cheap tablets, it doesn't really make a dent in the competitive landscape. A lot of those $99 devices almost lose money.

 

I don't know for sure, but I think there is a sense with Xbox 1 that they can win by simply making consoles irrelevant. Why else would they give you free cross platform copies of games. Exclusivity gets you cash, but that extra compatibility is meant to keep you hooked on the platform (and hopefully you think it is cool). The investment in backwards compat has a similar feel to it.

 

To tie this back to the topic; they haven't been trying to invest in portable devices at the pricepoint of a handheld device like the 3DS. The Surface IS their portable gaming device and more and more games are being released that are compatible with Windows 10 all the time. Plus, you can plug your controller into it :)

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A few years ago, they were all over the low end with cheap tablets and netbooks running "Windows 8.1 With Bing." I had a neat little $30 7" Windows tablet from Micro Center that could run all my GOG oldies on its Bay Trail CPU, up to Unreal and Star Wars Battlefront II. Unfortunately input sucked and it was hard to see. That was a neat portable thing for a while though.

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/\/\/\ And OEMs are still going to make stuff like that, Microsoft won't STOP anybody from putting Windows on something, but getting lots of those out there doesn't really help MS very much. To investors that just looks like more of the endless supplies of PCs - things stay the same. BUT, add a touchscreen, stylus and a commercial with a white guy wearing glasses and skinny jeans who says that Surface does things his Mac cannot and the needle moves a little in Microsoft's direction.

 

I should also mention that there have been many iterations of Windows Embedded and there are versions of Windows running on Arduino, Pi, and on IOT devices. These are all platforms that could turn into whatever portable system you want. Microsoft can be so many places that Apple, Nintendo, and Sony cannot. Competing with those companies should only be done on THEIR home court when you can get something meaningful out of it. Consumer perception and brand loyalty erosion seems to be what they are after with Tablets (and maybe Phablets soon). With the Console, I guess I speculate that they can show consumers how little Sony really has to offer them. Even if they do that with a small % of customers it probably helps.

 

As for handheld gaming, I think if that was going to happen (and I also seem to remember someone at MS saying it was planned) the moment has certainly passed. It probably would have hit around the time they had to face the fact that Zune was an ugly baby, so the appetite to get into another space with a dominant competitor probably disappeared, and they convinced themselves that Win Phone 7 would be the way.

 

This was also right around the time when MS was pushing XNA and making it easy to release indie games for the Xbox 360 - that died out too. Why encourage new devs to make games for our console when they can make them for our console AND Windows. That has to be what they are thinking now.

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There's a reason the Vita never really took off, and it's not because it wasn't a good system.

 

I wouldn't blame the Vita's fairly poor showing outside of Japan on the dominance of smartphones and tablets. Those two things are pretty popular inside Japan as well, but as you say Vita did well there.

 

The BIGGEST cause for the Vita's failure outside Japan, imo, starts and stops with Sony and their poor handling of it.

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I think it's more of an app content issue which is sorely lacking in Windows 10 to be brutally honest. Even if MS (or a 3rd part OEM) make something like a Xbox Pad with built in controls, there's still an issue of a small selection of mobile games compared to Android and iOS. (I don't count Xbox Play Anywhere titles like GoW 4 because they require a gaming PC with lots of memory.)

 

I'm hoping that MS will get indie games that work on both Xbox One & Windows 10 because developers would be more inclined to make games for Xbox One instead of Surface tablets or Windows phones. But the benefit would be the mobile Win 10 devices will get those same games available on the X1. And of course Triple A titles could be streamed from the X1 as well...

 

Once the Windows 10 store gets enough Xbox One games through the [email protected] program, then it'll be worthwhile to make a Xbox-like handheld.

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China attempted to make something to fool buyers into thinking they were buying an XBox only instead it was one of those handheld LCD games with the crappy 4-game screens that were interchangeable.

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I wouldn't blame the Vita's fairly poor showing outside of Japan on the dominance of smartphones and tablets. Those two things are pretty popular inside Japan as well, but as you say Vita did well there.

 

I agree - and the 3DS did well everywhere, despite the rise of smartphones and tablets. I actually don't think handhelds really compete with smartphones and tablets - the two serve different markets. And tablet sales are actually dropping.

 

Back when Sony first announced the PSP, we had debates on whether *anyone* could challenge Nintendo in handhelds. Sega, SNK and Atari had all tried, all with arguably better hardware, and all failed, usually pretty miserably. MS and Sony would have both looked at that record, and they obviously came to different conclusions about it. Still, my guess is that MS might have gone forward if the PSP had been a success, but it wasn't. It met the same fate as every other Nintendo challenger, as did the Vita. I don't think this has anything to do with smartphones; it's just Nintendo's dominance.

 

I think MS just had a realization that nobody really understood/understands the handheld market like Nintendo. The proof of that is four challengers who all thought they could crack it and failed. Only Nintendo knows how to be successful in this space, and only they know why. If anyone else knew why, that company would be able to compete. But that hasn't happened yet in 28 years.

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I agree - and the 3DS did well everywhere, despite the rise of smartphones and tablets. I actually don't think handhelds really compete with smartphones and tablets - the two serve different markets. And tablet sales are actually dropping.

 

Back when Sony first announced the PSP, we had debates on whether *anyone* could challenge Nintendo in handhelds. Sega, SNK and Atari had all tried, all with arguably better hardware, and all failed, usually pretty miserably. MS and Sony would have both looked at that record, and they obviously came to different conclusions about it. Still, my guess is that MS might have gone forward if the PSP had been a success, but it wasn't. It met the same fate as every other Nintendo challenger, as did the Vita. I don't think this has anything to do with smartphones; it's just Nintendo's dominance.

 

I think MS just had a realization that nobody really understood/understands the handheld market like Nintendo. The proof of that is four challengers who all thought they could crack it and failed. Only Nintendo knows how to be successful in this space, and only they know why. If anyone else knew why, that company would be able to compete. But that hasn't happened yet in 28 years.

 

Yes, the 3DS series did well in spite of the rise of smartphones, and, to a lesser degree, tablets, but a clear decline is still a clear decline, and it's directly attributable to the rise of those two device categories. And despite its success, the 3DS series is still the worst selling of all Nintendo handheld series (when all is said and done, it will probably fall about 5 - 10 million units short of the next worst selling, the GBA series, which sold about 81.51 million units; again, great, but still a decline). And yes, a dedicated gaming handheld does serve a different market than a smartphone or tablet, but a dedicated gaming handheld used to serve a portion of the market that now is more than satisfied with a smartphone or tablet. There is no reason that would change, i.e., that part of the market that dedicated gaming handhelds used to have and lost to smartphones and tablets is now gone forever, and there's every reason to believe that the decline will continue, as more and more of what was traditionally a market for a gaming handheld is perfectly happy with a more versatile and omnipresent smartphone.

 

By the way, the PSP was a success and the only true challenger to Nintendo's dominance in the space all these years (the PSP sold more than the GBA series for what it's worth, and yes, that means more than the 3DS series, so you can't call one a success and the other a failure). That's why, Sony being who they are, a preeminent name in videogames, and the lead-in being the PSP, the Vita's poor sales (just a bit under what the Wii U has sold) had a lot to do with the shrinking mainstream market for a dedicated gaming handheld.

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I think it's more of an app content issue which is sorely lacking in Windows 10 to be brutally honest. Even if MS (or a 3rd part OEM) make something like a Xbox Pad with built in controls, there's still an issue of a small selection of mobile games compared to Android and iOS. (I don't count Xbox Play Anywhere titles like GoW 4 because they require a gaming PC with lots of memory.)

 

I'm hoping that MS will get indie games that work on both Xbox One & Windows 10 because developers would be more inclined to make games for Xbox One instead of Surface tablets or Windows phones. But the benefit would be the mobile Win 10 devices will get those same games available on the X1. And of course Triple A titles could be streamed from the X1 as well...

 

Once the Windows 10 store gets enough Xbox One games through the [email protected] program, then it'll be worthwhile to make a Xbox-like handheld.

Surface runs the full version of Windows 10. Steam GOG and everything else runs on it. There are more indie games available on the platform than any other platform in history. All games can already be ported to X1 easily (from a technical standpoint). None of this has anything to do with the apps in the Windows 10 store. The store only matters for the latest innovation which is that your purchases cross between platforms which will likely be the standard for games published by MS in the future even if the store disappears completely.
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