Xbox has prominently featured Nintendo Switch in the background of another of its video events, touching off even more fevered speculation about what it could mean.
This time the Switch appeared in the background of Microsoft's developer-targeted Game Stack event. The Verge's Tom Warren took a screengrab of the event that shows the Switch just over the right shoulder of Xbox partnerships and ecosystem head Sarah Bond. The Switch is set up in its dock on the highest of three shelves, above an Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
Microsoft's Game Stack event is starting now and there's a shelf!!! *opens Photoshop to examine the pixels* pic.twitter.com/oahucc1gKGApril 20, 2021
If this were an isolated appearance, it would be a little odd but not necessarily anything to read into. But this has happened before, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer proudly displaying a Switch (once again with its most recognizable Neon Blue and Red Joy-Cons) on a shelf behind him during an event in February. If it seems like we're all paying way too much attention to the shelving choices of Microsoft employees, keep in mind that Spencer snuck an Xbox Series S onto his shelf for a presentation way back in July 2020, two months before its official debut.
So it could still be nothing, but the precedent is there. The question, either way, is why do you do this Microsoft? Given Xbox's recent studio acquisition spree, it's natural to wonder if Microsoft may be eyeing Nintendo for its next buyout, but that doesn't seem terribly likely given how well Nintendo is doing on its own. I'd be more inclined to interpret it as a hint toward the next platform for cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, since the service is already fully supported on Android devices and currently being tested for browsers.
Phil Spencer has said in the past that he'd be open to bringing Game Pass to both Switch and PS4.