Internal documents from Microsoft have leaked, revealing the company’s ambitions for ‘Brooklin’ - the upcoming refresh for the high end Xbox, 'Ellewood' - the Series-S refresh - and 'Sebile' a new controller, alongside giving a big picture overview of their plans for cloud and mobile named Gen 10…
The leaks were discovered by a user of gaming forum Resetera, having found the details in an attachment to a deposition shared by the U.S. District Court of Northern California as part of the FTC’s attempts to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Microsoft and Sony have long been rivals in the console space, with PlayStation historically winning each volley in the so-called console wars. Most recently, Sony’s greater focus on peripherals and features such as haptic feedback and adaptive triggers saw the PS5 outsell the Xbox Series X/S.
But Microsoft are set to fight back.
Brooklin is the codename for their next high end console and - if the leaks are to be believed - aims to take the war to Sony in several ways. Firstly, it sees Xbox entirely abandon disks, being a digital only console with a $499 price point and a significantly lower energy consumption. There's a USB-C port on the front and a sleeker, quieter design too.
The same presentation also unveiled details of the latest iteration of Xbox’s lower-tier console, the Series S, this time dubbed Ellewood. Ellewood features greater storage and similar power-saving skills as Brooklin, but its design remains largely unchanged.
Both consoles come with a new Xbox controller however, codenamed Sebile "now playing on a screen near you". Sebile includes features such as an accelerometer and the ability to connect the controller to a dedicated mobile app, presumably allowing users to use the controller to play Xbox Cloud Gaming and for use in mobile games, making it easier than ever before to utilise the Xbox Games Pass on mobile devices.
It's currently not known whether the pad's inclusion of an accelerometer will be used in gameplay or simply as the 'lift to wake' feature mentioned on the slide, but the swappable battery for extended play sessions away from home will be a welcome addition for mobile players.
Sebile is currently slated for a late May 2024 release - ahead of the new consoles - with Ellewood the lower console to be released in late August 2024, and Brooklin to follow in late October. The 60 day gap between both allows Microsoft to "enable dialogue with different audiences," the presentation explains.
Gen 10 is coming
And that's not all. The leaks have even given us a peek at Microsoft's gaming landscape to come.
The so-called Gen 10 - that is, the full console generation to follow these 2024 refreshes - sees Microsoft aim not just for mastery of console gaming, but the sector as a whole. The leaked presentation details plans for not just consoles, PC, and phones but web browsers and even a cloud console, all of which will utilise a shared operating system to minimise friction between platforms.
Intriguingly the presentation promises a "hybrid" system in which the physical hardware in the living room or in your pocket will be supplemented by cloud support to further increase it's power and capabilities.
Development kits are expected to be delivered to game makers by 2027 with a launch in 2028. Of course, when you're talking about timescales four or five years into the future it's safe to say that things could change in the meantime… Nevertheless, Microsoft's aims to create a gaming "ecosystem generation" across multiple platforms sounds like a believable goal.
According to the leaked documents, Microsoft had already selected ARM64 architecture as the core device's CPU, instantly creating compatibility with mobile devices and of course there's even mention of on-trend AI and machine learning in order to provide games in "super resolution" graphics, next-level frame rates and character dialogue generation.
All this and buying Nintendo too?
And thanks to Microsoft dutifully submitting thousands of documents as part of their legal case in their Activision Blizzard bid, there are even mails and chat logs between key executives on record including Xbox boss Phil Spencer noting that a purchase of Nintendo in particular would be an attractive prospect from back in 2020…
In an email to Microsoft commercial chief marketing officer Takeshi Numoto, Spencer wrote: "Without that catalyst, I don't see an angle to a near term mutually agreeable merger of Nintendo and MS and I don't think a hostile action would be a good move, so we are playing the long game."
One thing is for certain, Microsoft are gearing up for battle and won't rest until every platform - including mobile - is within their grip.