Microsoft has unveiled the specifications of Project Scorpio via Eurogamer / Digital Foundry.
I think it was a good idea to get the specs mumbo jumbo out of the way for the super hardcore fans and just let the official reveal be about the games, experience and USP’s. We’ll get this more structured and official reveal either before E3 at E3.
Nothing too surprising from the spec reveal. It’s clear the Microsoft have ticked all the right boxes for hardware though based on what a mid gen upgrade should have. It seems it’ll be launching in a more complete state than PS4 Pro and actually benefit standard XB1 titles with super sampling (or whatever that thing is called) + have other features like 4K Blu Ray and moar power. This is something of note and is a USP for the console.
One thing that was missing from the reveal today was talk about Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. It’s certainly something that Microsoft have been pushing on the PC side and they even had a partnership with Oculus for the original Xbox One. It’s unclear how exactly VR/MR will work on Scorpio but the system is clearly powerful enough for it and the ability to use these technologies should be there from day 1 so that it’s a selling point for the console. It’s also worth noting that Sony’s PS VR is already in the market and Microsoft will be keen to outdo PS4 Pro in every category with Scorpio.
It’s clear that the strategy both Sony and MS are going for this gen is the “Double down on the core gamers who are spending” strategy. So it’s why we’ve seen PS VR launch at $399. It’s why PS Plus and XBL aren’t going anywhere. It’s why Xbox Games Pass and PS Now / Vue exists etc… Pro and Scorpio are the next step in the whole “Lets keep our core base spending on our ecosystem and boost hardware ASP’s whilst we’re at it”. Project Scorpio is going to appeal to the Xbox One early adopters and the guys on the fence about buying a new high end PC gaming rig.
The issue I see though is that Sony and Microsoft are targeting a niche within a niche. Granted that niche is larger than it was 10 years ago and is the most profitable part of the console audience. But it also shows how the platform holders have seemingly given up any hope of growing the overall audience of the consoles by appealing to the casual / family / semi – casual gamer. They seem to have ceded that market to smartphone gaming. Which explains why Sony and Nintendo now have mobile game divisions. Right now these moves are more about Xbox and Sony retaining an audience than growing it.
Not that the above is a bad thing right now. In fact it makes sense for them to do that. I just hope they have a plan for next gen given how this group of gamers is going to be expecting more for less in a world where dev budgets are increasing but game prices are not.
Anyway. Still a lot of open questions here about price, branding and content. It’s sounding like it could be above $400 at this point and that to me just doesn’t sound good given the current positioning of Sony and Nintendo. Of course we know Xbox One S will be the main driver of sales but that initial buzz has worn off. If we have another $599 situation then the initial impact of Scorpio will be limited and it’ll take a while for it to actually sell any meaningful amount.
Overall there isn’t much to discuss and what has been revealed today hasn’t exactly made me think much different to how I was before. We need more info before coming to any real conclusion of how it could perform in the market.