Xbox fans have been waiting for a glimpse of a new, standalone Game Pass streaming device called “Keystone” since it was first teased at E3 2021. Now Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer may have just given it to them in his latest shelfie. It looks like a micro-Xbox Series S.
Microsoft has slowly been bringing Xbox Game Pass to more and more devices through cloud streaming. First it was phones. More recently it was certain brands of Smart TVs like Samsung’s. Earlier this year, the company confirmed it was working on a smaller add-on that people could buy to stream games to any display. It’s called Keystone, and so far Microsoft hasn’t shown what it looks like, possibly until today.
“Vault Boy left the shelter and stopped by my office to celebrate the #Fallout25 Anniversary,” Spencer tweeted along with a photo of a bunch of Xbox swag on a shelf. “Congratulations to the @Fallout @Bethesda teams on this major milestone for an iconic franchise.” The Microsoft executive has made a habit out of teasing upcoming reveals in the background of his pictures, however, and it didn’t take fans long to spot a strange-looking white device near the top:
It looks exactly like an Xbox Series S, only much smaller. A mark on the left could be an Xbox symbol while one on the right seems like a USB port. It seems similar in proportion to a Google Chromecast or Valve’s now defunct Steam Link, though it’s hard to tell based on the photo alone. It certainly looks a shade smaller than the Xbox controller just to its left. Notably, the Series S was first revealed on Spencer’s shelf as well. A response to Spencer’s tweet by the official Xbox account seems to imply it may be an older prototype.
While previous speculation was that Xbox’s Game Pass streaming device would be a smaller stick-sized dongle, the company told Windows Central in May that it had pivoted to a new “approach” for Keystone. “We have made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration of the Keystone device,” a spokesperson for the company said at the time. “We will take our learnings and refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future.”
It’s still not clear exactly what the company meant by that, and it’s always possible that Spencer’s photo today was 1.) not meant to tease anything or 2.) was teasing something completely different from Keystone. Microsoft has also reportedly been working on a standalone optical drive attachment for the all-digital versions of its Xbox Series X/S. Both seem unlikely.
“It’s probably a mistake on my part,” Spencer said in a Kinda Funny Games appearance in July when describing the easter eggs fans look for on his shelf. He claimed there was no thought behind what appears on it during his video calls and other photos, and that it was simply a collection of gaming industry gifts and signifiers. The hosts were less than convinced.
Update: 10/10/22 2:58 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for Microsoft re-iterated that the device on Spencer’s shelf is an older prototype and that the company’s early statement that it had pivoted “away” from the current iteration.