Xbox Game Pass via UI interface on the Xbox
Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To Geek
The Xbox Streaming Stick was planned to be a dongle-like device you would plug into your TV and use to stream games in place of a console. However, the idea seems to have been abandoned in favor of an Xbox app that is directly integrated into 2021 and 2022 Samsung smart TVs.

News on the Xbox Streaming Stick has been rather scant as of late. Xbox might have benched this project in favor of others. With that said, let’s take a look at the available information about the Xbox Streaming Stick and see what it can teach us about the future of Xbox gaming.

What Is the Xbox Streaming Stick?

The Xbox Streaming Stick was planned as dongle-like device that’s meant to plug straight into a TV and allow you to play games via cloud streaming. Essentially, it would be like a tiny console that will work in concert with Xbox Game Pass subscriptions to stream games from the cloud.

Like the Xbox Series S, it will not be able to read discs, so the physical copies of your games won’t work with it. The Xbox Streaming Stick was reportedly planned to be the next step in Xbox’s plan to move gaming into a purely digital direction—a direction that also moves away from traditional consoles.

When Will the Xbox Streaming Stick Be Released?

As of April 2023, no one really knows when the Xbox Streaming Stick will be released. In early 2022, there were rumors and hints that the Xbox Streaming Stick (sometimes referred to by its codename: Project Keystone) would be released in 2023. However, new evidence has revealed otherwise.

In October 2022, Phil Spencer (the CEO of Microsoft Gaming) mentioned during an interview that the idea for the Xbox Streaming Stick was temporarily shelved in favor of putting resources into the Xbox app that is integrated into Samsung smart TVs.

Phil Spencer sitting down during an interview.
Xbox On / YouTube

In this same interview clip, Spencer mentioned that he has a prototype of the Xbox Streaming Stick, which confirms its existence beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, that prototype has seemingly been sitting around while other more promising projects are being developed.

Speculation About The Xbox Streaming Stick’s Release Date

Due to a few different reasons, it’s highly unlikely that the Xbox Streaming Stick will be released in 2023. If it does get released, it will likely be in 2024. However, if it doesn’t show up in ads or stores during 2024, it would be safe to assume that the project has been dropped and simply won’t resurface in 2025.

The Xbox Streaming Stick would likely be much cheaper than a traditional console. It doesn’t require nearly as much hardware since it’s only designed to enable cloud gaming on a TV. The lack of hardware will translate into lower production costs than for consoles, which, in turn, means a lower price tag for consumers. Considering these points, it stands to reason that Microsoft is going to try and sell as many consoles as possible before releasing the Xbox Streaming Stick—as that would net them the most profits. That is if this device gets released at all.

We also need to look at what Xbox is currently doing with its marketing: they’re heavily promoting the Xbox app that’s integrated into 2021 and 2022 Samsung smart TVs. As Phil Spencer said in the above-mentioned interview, this is the project Xbox is focusing on instead of the Xbox Streaming Stick. It serves the same role but is likely cheaper and easier to implement. Since this project is already underway, it’s unlikely that Xbox will release a redundant service like the Xbox Streaming Stick in 2023.

Lastly, keep in mind that marketing for consoles and similar devices always begins months (up to a year) prior to said product’s release. As of writing this in April 2023, there has been no official word on the Xbox Streaming Stick’s release date or price—only journalist speculations. This rules out a summer or fall release of the Xbox Streaming Stick in 2023. There is a small possibility that ads for it could start appearing in the fall for a Christmas release—or something along those lines—but it’s not very likely.

RELATED: Xbox Game Pass: How It Works, Cost, and Games List

Xbox Streaming Stick: Pros and Cons

Streaming devices in the form of dongles that plug into one of your TV’s HDMI ports have become popular for a reason: people like them! The Xbox Streaming Stick seems to have been planned to fall into a similar niche of consumer satisfaction.

However, what’s even more convenient than a streaming stick you have to buy and plug in is an app on the devices you already use. In this day and age of modern conveniences, people will undeniably flock to the option that involves the least amount of work.

Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X is much larger than a stick. Corbin Davenport / How-To Geek

The Pros of the Xbox Streaming Stick

Being a small device, the Xbox Streaming Stick would be easy to handle, plug into a TV, and would not consume very much power. Furthermore, unlike with more traditional consoles, you don’t need to find a place to put it; it can stay tucked behind your TV in its HDMI port forever.

Also unlike a traditional console, it would likely be a lot cheaper. As we mentioned before, the production costs due to much fewer hardware components would definitely result in a lower price tag than a newly-released console.

The Xbox Game Pass system is already well established and used frequently by Xbox gamers. The Xbox Streaming Stick would work together with this subscription service in an intuitive and convenient way. Plug in the stick, subscribe, and start gaming right away: it’s as streamlined as a process can be.

The Cons of the Xbox Streaming Stick

Since it solely makes use of cloud gaming, you’ll need to have a solid internet connection. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with a ton of lag and choppy gameplay. That’s not a huge issue for people in urban settings. However, those in rural areas may have trouble with this aspect. Moreover, if the internet goes down, you won’t be able to play games at all. With that said, the same is true for the Xbox app on 2021 and 2022 Samsung smart TVs.

Like the Xbox Game Pass service with which it would integrate, the Xbox Streaming Stick would likely be locked into a maximum resolution of 1080p. With 4K (and 8K) TVs becoming cheaper and more available, this would be a big downside as it would force gamers with higher quality TVs to play video games at half (or less) the visual quality. For this, and the new Xbox app on Samsung TVs, Xbox is going to need to start uploading games in 4K soon to satisfy the gaming community.

As you’ve been reading this article, you’ve likely noticed all the comparisons we’re making between the Xbox Streaming Stick and the Xbox app on Samsung TVs. That’s because they would compete with each other if the streaming stick gets released. They fill the same need, but one is simply more convenient than the other.

However, if people don’t own a 2021 or 2022 Samsung smart TV, the Xbox Streaming Stick would be a preferable option due to not requiring consumers to buy a new TV. Depending on your gaming technology needs, you’d either get a 2021 or 2022 Samsung smart TV or an Xbox Streaming Stick; never both.

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Profile Photo for Reyadh Rahaman Reyadh Rahaman
Reyadh has been writing full-time for years, covering technology and video games at websites like VGKAMI and Game Rant. When he's not writing technical articles for various publications, he's working on his fiction novels, playing video games, or reading up on interesting topics. Reyadh studied Broadcast Television/Videography at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario.
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