Industry expert and general Microsoft snooper Brad Sams has heard rumblings that, despite Lockhart probably being shelved, Microsoft are still working on two consoles. Instead of the cheaper option being a lightweight version of Project Scarlett's beastly main console, however, this new box will be an entirely stripped-back device that exclusively uses streaming to play games — and potentially has a drastically lower price point to match.
Sams explains in the above video that this rumoured box will be a "low power low latency" device that plugs straight into XCloud for all of its gaming. Effectively, the box is there as a halfway house; you connect your controller to the box, and the box connects to the cloud, allowing for a lower latency experience than, say, simply pairing the controller to a smart TV.
If these rumours are true, Sams suggests that this explains why the less powerful Lockhart was canned — it muddies the marketing model. Why have a slimmer, less powerful version of Scarlett if you've already got a super-cheap streaming box in the line-up? We'd personally argue that this assumes everyone on a budget is ready to adopt game streaming — highly unlikely, given that there is still a significant premium to pay per month for high-speed internet, even in countries without punishing data caps.
Still, Sams reckons that this would be a chance for Xbox to significantly undercut Stadia's initial pricing model — maybe we could see an XCloud box costing somewhere between $60 and $80. That is a pretty massive piece of speculation, but it would certainly make Microsoft an interesting option for console purchase in the next generation.
We will have to see if Microsoft choose to confirm any of this information, but Sams has typically been a reliable source of intel in the past. He stresses that all he has heard is that the XCloud device is still "in development" — there's no timescales, and certainly no guarantees that this box will be part of the Project Scarlett launch line up.
Project Scarlett arrives around Holiday 2020. We assume we might hear a little more about it at X019 in London, happening later in the year. We'll hear more about that event at Gamescom in August.
Get the biggest Xbox news delivered straight to your inbox every week.