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Why We Never Got An Xbox Handheld Console

Mobile gaming is a big deal. App stores are overflowing with titles you can play on your smartphone, including ports of popular games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the Grand Theft Auto series. But even before the mobile game boom, Nintendo and Sony provided games on the go with handheld consoles like the 3DS and PlayStation Vita. Nintendo cornered that particular market with the Switch — possibly because Sony no longer supports the Vita — but that leaves Microsoft unaccounted for.


One can't help but wonder why Microsoft didn't throw its hat into the handheld market ring. Gamers probably would have loved to spend long car rides or flights playing pocket-sized versions of Halo and Gears of War. And, you probably want to know why it has taken Microsoft so long to make a handheld console, and if the company ever plans to create one.

Here's why you never got an Xbox handheld console.

A handheld console would have stretched Microsoft too thin

In September 2015, GeekWire Radio sat down with former chief Xbox officer Robbie Bach to discuss everything he learned from his time at Microsoft. During the interview, GeekWire Radio asked Bach why Microsoft never made a handheld console — referred to as an "Xboy" — and if he regretted that decision. Bach stated that not creating the "Xboy" was the best decision for Microsoft because it would have reshuffled the company's priorities and focus.


According to Bach, Microsoft already had its hands full with Xbox-related issues. A handheld console would have added more to Microsoft's plate and prevented the Xbox team from keeping its focus in the right place. Plus, Bach believed the popularity of smartphones stole the market for a handheld console, which meant any and all work Microsoft poured into the "Xboy" would have gone to waste.

Furthermore, in 2017, Bach visited IGN to elaborate on the hypothetical handheld. Turns out an Xbox handheld came up "multiple times" at Microsoft. However, each time the team discussed the idea, they quickly abandoned it. They reportedly even produced drawings at one point, but the console never entered the prototyping phase because, just as Bach told GeekWire, it took too much focus away from the Xbox 360.