The next Xbox console could launch in 2028 if Microsoft's plans remain firm

 Xbox @ Gamescom 2023.
Xbox @ Gamescom 2023.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft announced that it wanted to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion back in January 2022.

  • Activision Blizzard is a large gaming holding company known for extremely popular franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and more.

  • The United States FTC attempted to block the deal for the last several months but finally lost the lawsuit when a California judge sided with Microsoft.

  • An internal chat log released as part of the FTC's block attempt reveals that Microsoft leaders were expecting the next Xbox console to release in 2028.

By now, the historic ruling of the Xbox vs. FTC lawsuit is a well-known win in favor of Microsoft. For those who need a reminder, Xbox's leaders announced their intention to acquire Activision Blizzard back in January 2022 but were soon met with opposition in the form of the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which attempted to block the deal. However, as of July 2023, California Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled in favor of Microsoft, allowing the company to close its deal with the renowned gaming holding company. This allows Xbox to bring Activision Blizzard's popular titles such as World of Warcraft, Diablo, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and more under its own name.

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As is the case with any court proceedings, several court documents relating to the Xbox vs. FTC lawsuit have been released that give more details about the companies involved, including information that some companies would prefer to remain secret. One such interesting revelation comes thanks to an internal chat log from a meeting in May 2022 wherein Microsoft executives including Head of Gaming Phil Spencer, CEO Satya Nadella, and CFO Amy Hood were in attendence. During the meeting, it was mentioned that the next Xbox console had a launch plan for 2028 (thanks, Axios). It is very likely that those involved never expected this conversation to be made public, but that changed with the lawsuit.

Here is the conversation as reported by Axios:

"Is the plan for 2028 to keep that [illegible] like model or force a Windows like flexible/capabilities like model?"

"We have already started this journey with Xbox One and Xbox One X, furthering it in Series S | X," - Kevin Gammill, corporate vice president of gaming ecosystems.

"We need to be even more flexible going forward with gen 10, but also provide the ability for creators to take advantage of unique hardware capabilities."

Windows Central's take

Xbox wireless controller in Astral Purple being gripped by a pair of hands and used to play a game.
Xbox wireless controller in Astral Purple being gripped by a pair of hands and used to play a game.

As is the case with any big hardware release, the process takes finesse and plans can change over time depending on the state of the market or other factors. As such, it's very possible that the launch plan for the next Xbox console could have changed since May 2022, and so we'll just have to wait for an official announcement from Microsoft to know for sure when the next Xbox gaming hardware will come out. That being said, 2028 would make a lot of sense for the next Xbox console's release.

Typically, gaming consoles have a lifecycle of between five and seven years. Both the current Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 released in 2020, so they will be between seven to eight years old in 2028 (depending on the exact release dates), which lines up with a typical gaming lifecycle. What's more, historically, Xbox and PlayStation have released their new consoles around the same time, allowing for maximum competition in the gaming space, which is beneficial for both companies. This is very likely to be the case going forward as well; when Xbox releases its next console we should expect to also see PlayStation release its new console.