The Xbox Series X is likely to launch in India around the same time as it does the world over. According to Xbox boss Phil Spencer “significant delays in region launches” harm Microsoft’s prospects. This is an interesting turn when you consider that the Xbox 360 and Xbox One were officially released in India nearly a year after their international launches with the original Xbox skipping the country altogether.
Spencer made his comments on a recent episode of Podcast Unlocked, an Xbox-focussed podcast. He also shed light that despite the ongoing pandemic the “supply chains in China have started to come back” online and the Xbox team is “starting to get things back from them”.
When asked if the Xbox Series X will have a global launch or if Microsoft would consider staggering out its release like it did with previous console releases, Spencer claimed he’d be “hesitant” to consider the latter.
“Haven’t started on a plan B [staggered launch] as you’re asking about so I’m hesitant to do the ‘what if’ on this,” Spencer said.
“I will say, having lived through the Xbox One launch I know that significant delays in region launches hurt us. It hurts us with the sentiment of the fans. Every time I go to Japan I am reminded that we were nine months late in launching there with Xbox One. And the Internet means everyone knows where everything is launched. Not like 30 years ago when it was kind of it’s ‘not here yet’ and you don’t get the roar of people getting excited from other regions. We haven’t started on a plan B but I’d be hesitant to do something like that. Fundamentally some of the issues we have to work through are more software-related than hardware and when you’re done with software it scales globally so I’m not predicting that but as I said, we’re managing day to day kind of watching how things are going and managing our productivity.”
Now, while Spencer called out Japan specifically, it’s safe to say that his plans extend to other regions including India as well. Microsoft’s other divisions have a huge presence in India and an Xbox Series X launch on par with a global release would be a welcome change of pace from the company. We’ve reached out to Microsoft India for comment and we’ll update this story if we hear from the company.
With that in mind, Spencer also stated that the safety and security of the Xbox team is of utmost importance over any short term gains in launching the Xbox Series X in the current environment.
Xbox Series X India launch and BIS concerns
That said, it’ll be great if India does eventually get the Xbox Series X in time with the rest of the world. The Xbox One released in India nearly a year after its global launch as did the Xbox One S while the Xbox One X made it here almost three months after its international release as did the Xbox One S All Digital edition.
In a market where Microsoft plays second fiddle to Sony (arguably third fiddle if you factor in the Nintendo Switch), a day and date India Xbox Series X release would be a fantastic statement of intent. Reason being, Sony’s never done a day and date launch for India either. In fact, the PS4 India release date was delayed due to BIS issues faced by Sony. Before electronics can be sold in India, they need to go through mandatory certification via the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). This includes a number of gadgets such as consoles.
The Department of Electronics, and Information Technology (DeitY), introduced compulsory BIS certification requirement in 2012, which went into effect in 2013. The process is often thought to be time consuming.
Sources in the supply chain speaking to The Mako Reactor claim that Microsoft’s India distribution partner, Redington has been efficient in this regard and it could be crucial in getting to the Indian market on time with an international Xbox Series X release date.
Project xCloud vs Xbox Series X
While Spencer and his team are focussed on the Xbox Series X, the Xbox boss did make it clear where its Project xCloud streaming service stands. It isn’t meant to replace your console.
“On the internet there is a lot of work we can do to shorten the latency no doubt about that but the best experience you can have is playing on a local device,” he said.
“We’ve been consistent with that. We’re not trying to replace playing on a PC, we’re not trying to replace playing on a console, we think for some people they’ll never own a PC or a console so this is the only way they’ll play but not because we say this is somehow superior to what you’re playing on your PC or console today.”
Recently, Reliance Jio and Microsoft announced plans to bring Project xCloud to India.
Reliance Industries Chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani confirmed in a televised interaction with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella that Jio isn’t just working with Microsoft on services for startups but with xCloud as well.
Both companies have a deep relationship even dating back to Microsoft’s formation what with Ambani befriending Bill Gates while at Stanford, and that Microsoft’s enterprise tech such as Azure is being used by Jio extensively.
However Ambani himself revealed that the telco giant is working with Microsoft to bring Project xCloud to India. Ambani said that “with everything we’re doing with xCloud and our broadband connectivity, I think there is huge potential for some of us who don’t know what gaming is.”
For its part, Microsoft confirmed this too.
“Yes, we confirmed the news of our intent to bring Project xCloud to Indian gamers with Reliance Jio as part of our Future Decoded event in Mumbai in late February,” a spokesperson for the company tells The Mako Reactor over email. “We announced this intention to come to India at X019 London in November, and will have more news soon on how and when this will play out for your local market.”
Hopefully “more news soon” refers to release dates, pricing, games, and of course, pre-release testing to give users an idea of what to expect when the service inevitably launches. With an Xbox event rumoured for May, perhaps we’ll get more details on what to expect from Project xCloud and Xbox Series X.