Microsoft’s Keystone Streaming Device: A Glimpse of What Could Have Been

Microsoft has been heavily investing in Game Pass, making strategic business decisions to expand the subscription service’s reach. One such initiative was the Keystone project, a dedicated streaming device aimed at enabling Game Pass customers to play Xbox titles without owning an Xbox console. Although announced in 2021, the project was eventually deemed too costly, leading the team to pivot towards developing a smart TV streaming app. Recently, Windows Central uncovered a patent revealing what the Keystone device might have looked like, providing more details than previously disclosed by Xbox leadership.

Keystone’s Design and Features

The patent filing offers a comprehensive look at the Keystone device, which was only briefly teased in a 2022 image shared by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. The device featured a squat, square design with a circular pattern on the top and a circular plate on the bottom. It included the expected cable ports and a controller pairing button, suggesting it was designed to be user-friendly and integrate seamlessly with existing gaming setups.

Microsoft’s Hardware Challenges

Microsoft has recently made several pitches for new hardware, but few have successfully met consumer expectations. Even the company’s announcement of Xbox hardware refreshes at the latest Summer Games Fest fell short, following leaks hinting at more ambitious plans. Despite these challenges, the Keystone patent provides valuable insights into Microsoft’s development process and its efforts to innovate in the gaming space.

The Shift to Smart TV Streaming

After abandoning the Keystone project, Microsoft redirected its focus to creating a smart TV streaming app. This move aims to provide a cost-effective solution for expanding Game Pass accessibility, aligning with the company’s broader strategy of making gaming more accessible without the need for dedicated hardware.


While the Keystone streaming device never made it to market, the recently uncovered patent offers an intriguing glimpse into what might have been. As Microsoft continues to navigate the challenges of hardware innovation, the company’s commitment to expanding Game Pass and enhancing the gaming experience remains evident. For now, the story of Keystone serves as an interesting chapter in Microsoft’s ongoing journey to shape the future of gaming.