Microsoft’s Documents Reveal Plans for a New Xbox Series X, New Controller, and Ambitions to Acquire Nintendo

P.S. These documents are from May 2022, and plans may have changed since.
Published On September 20, 2023

Microsoft might have experienced the biggest gaming leak, as documents unveil plans of a new Xbox Series X, a cloud gaming device, and a blueprint of their plans for the decade. Photo via Unsplash

Microsoft executives planned major head-turners for their gaming division over the decade, but none expected an unexpected leak to lay their plans bare. Accidentally revealed in new FTC v. Microsoft documents were the plans for an Xbox Series X refresh, a revamped Series S, and a new Xbox controller with seamless pairing. The biggest surprise, however, was Phil Spencer’s plans to acquire (or merge) with Nintendo.

The internal documents offer a potentially dated “Roadmap to 2030,” but Xbox chief Phil Spencer has reaffirmed to staff that the leaked documents are “well over a year old” and that their “plans have evolved” since. “When we’re ready, we’ll share real plans with our players,” read the internal memo.

New versions of current Xbox models: Brooklin and Ellewood

Gameplay mechanics from Hogwarts Legacy.
A screenshot from the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Mid-generation refresh to the Xbox Series X and Series S.

Photos via FTC v. Microsoft

A mid-gen refresh to the Xbox Series X and Series S is planned for 2024, according to the documents.

  • The Series X is codenamed “Brooklin,” and will feature the most striking redesign to the Xbox: an all-digital, cylindrical case. The refresh doubles the storage to 2 TB as it leaves physical drives behind, with upgraded wireless and Bluetooth capabilities, better power efficiency, and a front USB-C port.
  • Priced at $499, the same as the console it replaces, “Brooklin” is slated for a November 2024 release.
  • “Ellewood” will precede the new Xbox Series X’s release, slated for September 2024. The Series S refresh won’t feature notable aesthetic changes, but will offer 1 TB of storage for the same $299 price. It will feature wireless and power efficiency improvements similar to “Brooklin,” and will also give up the physical disk drive.

The leak also reveals Microsoft’s plans for a “next generation hybrid game platform,” one that offers cloud hybrid games. This cloud console sat atop the “Funded” section of one of the slides, codenamed “Project Keystone.”

  • Microsoft first acknowledged the development of “Keystone” in 2021, after a few years of persistent rumors. The device intended to leverage Microsoft’s Azure servers to stream games over Xbox Cloud Gaming.
  • After a sneak peek at a prototype, Phil Spencer noted that the device was being pushed back as Microsoft couldn’t quite get its price right.

Microsoft executives expected to launch the next Xbox console in 2028, according to an internal chat log released as part of the lawsuit, noted Axios.

New Xbox Controller: Sebile

Microsoft intends to launch the two-tone black and white controller in June 2024 for $69.99, alongside its planned announcement of the refreshed consoles.

  • “Sebile” will feature “direct-to-cloud” capability, which may indicate features akin to Google’s Stadia controller — like communicating to Xbox Cloud Gaming servers directly over Wi-Fi.
  • The controller boasts precision haptic feedback with VCA haptics that double as speakers (similar to Sony’s DualSense controllers), quieter buttons and thumbsticks, an accelerometer (possibly for a “raise to wake” feature), and better Bluetooth and wireless connectivity.

Controller becomes the hero: The new Xbox controller is the only thing you need to play on every device. This low barrier to entry will fuel subscriber growth,” noted a section. While not currently funded, an Elite Controller (“Actium”) is also part of Microsoft’s plans.

Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot at the 2016 SDCC for "Wonder Woman."

Accompanying the revamped consoles will be a new controller.

Photo via FTC v. Microsoft

Another document released as part of the FTC’s bid to block Microsoft’s Activision buyout revealed how to company was in talks to acquiring Nintendo in 2020.

Talks of a Microsoft-Nintendo Merger

The Microsoft board was “fully supportive” of acquiring Nintendo (or Valve), a leaked email from Phil Spencer dated Aug. 2020 read. The Xbox chief defined the possible merger as a “career moment,” But noted that the merger was unlikely in the short term as “Nintendo is sitting on a big pile of cash.”

  • Microsoft has bought over a dozen game development studios through their acquisitions of ZeniMax Media, Obsidian Entertainment, Double Fine Productions, InXile Entertainment, Mojang, and others — and soon plans to add the $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard purchase to the list.
  • However, Spencer has long had his sight set on Nintendo as “The prime asset” in gaming. However, Nintendo has since capitalized on its properties with blockbuster animated films and theme parks — adding obstacles for Spencer.

While Spencer “had numerous conversations with the [leadership team] of Nintendo,” he noted that a “near-term” merger was unlikely. “I don’t think a hostile action would be a good move so we are playing the long game,” he added.