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Phil Spencer is still pining for an Xbox handheld, but some publishers are reportedly unsure if Microsoft's consoles are worth it

Also, big Phil's apparently really, really annoyed about not being able to access his Fallout 76 saves on the go

Phil Spencer and the Xbox logo.
Image credit: VG247/Xbox

You know all that chatter about Xbox and whether it was doing ok earlier this year? Well, coming out of GDC, it seems we’re dipping back into the whole ‘what’s going on with Microsoft’s gaming division’ debate. Phil Spencer’s seemingly still focused on handhelds, but it’s the company’s other hardware that some publishers are reportedly worrying about.

If you’re out of the loop, Xbox ended up doing a kinda weird podcast about that state of the company and its plans for the future back in, er, oh my god, it was only last month. Shortly after that, four Xbox games made their way onto PS5, Switch or both, while the likes of Indiana Jones and the Great Circle and Starfield were confirmed to be staying put for now.

Now, in an update of sorts on his liked tweets from the other month, Spencer’s said some more stuff about the idea of an Xbox handheld and what it might be like - with recent reports having claimed it’s working on a “fully native” one. The key thing, it seems, is how to make a handheld feel like an Xbox, in line with the console maker’s current buzz phrase that every screen can be an Xbox.

Speaking to Polygon, Spencer offered us all the peek at what it’s like to sit next to him on a plane that we’ve all been craving. “I want my Lenovo Legion Go to feel like an Xbox,” he said, revealing that he’d brought it to the conference and was “on the airplane [with] this list of everything that makes it not feel like an Xbox”.

He then outlined that this branding-focused line of thinking isn’t just about the Xbox brand, with simple stuff like all of your Xbox games and saves showing up being a big deal, specifically name-dropping Fallout 76 as an example of the latter not being the case right now. Seriously, not being able to build on his progress in Appalachia while he’s in transit or on the loo seems to really bothering him, with the exec declaring: “it’s driving me crazy”.

Getting back on track, Spencer says Xbox’s hardware team is currently weighing up “different hardware form factors and things that [they] could go do” as it plans out the company’s future. Spencer hasn’t confirmed that an Xbox handheld is a part of that, but seemed to suggest that supporting Xbox software on third-party handhelds is definitely a priority.

That said, he might want to direct more of his attention back to Xbox’s consoles, with GamesIndustry.biz’s Chris Dring having said that he came out of GDC thinking that “Xbox is in real trouble as a hardware manufacturer”.

This reportedly came after several discussions with third-party publishers, with Dring saying: “The phrase one major company who released a big game last year said [was], ‘I don’t know why we bothered supporting it’.” A big factor in this appears to be sales of Xbox consoles in Europe specifically not living up to expectations, having fallen both throughout last year and early this year.

So yeah, while Phil’s handheld pipe dreams are all well and good, it seems like he might need to talk some folks into seeing the value in Xbox’s existing hardware.

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