Project Scorpio has a target on its back right now. Despite a generally positive reaction to the release of the full specifications for the system, the unreleased system seems to have more people gunning for it than seems reasonable. So what is everyone’s problem with it and do they have a point? Well, let’s have a look at these issues/arguments/grumbles and see how they stack up.
Target 1: Games
The most common thing I hear about Project Scorpio is “I’ll wait to see what the launch line-up is like”, “where are the games for it”. Well, Project Scorpio will launch with the biggest line-up of games that a games console has ever seen! What am I talking about? Well if you already have an Xbox One, you already have some of the games, because it uses the same games as Xbox One. It is this question that annoys me the most when criticising the new system. Project Scorpio is a mid-generation refresh for Xbox in exactly the same way that the PlayStation 4 Pro was, but not once did I hear people question the launch line-up of that system. Obviously, there will be some games that are particular showcase titles for the new system, but Project Scorpio will improve a significant number of games that are already available, such as Gears of War 4 and Halo Wars 2, as they can use a lot of the settings that the PC versions already use. However, I’m sure at E3 this year Microsoft will also show upcoming titles like Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, and Forza Motorsport in all their Scorpio glory. What will be interesting to see is which third-party games Microsoft can show off on Scorpio during their E3 press conference, or even getting a third-party publisher to demonstrate their game on Scorpio during that publisher’s press conference.
Target 2: Xbox brand
One of the biggest surprises for me this generation is how much the Xbox star has waned. Before the Xbox One was announced, the brand was almost on a par with PlayStation. Since the disastrous launch of the Xbox One (with the lack of gaming focus, power comparisons to PlayStation 4, and high price due to the inclusion of Kinect 2.0), Microsoft has been playing catch-up the whole time. The interesting thing is that Xbox One hasn’t been selling that badly compared to most other consoles, it’s just that the PlayStation 4 has been incredibly successful. Phil Spencer has done a lot to improve the image of the console, but it takes a long time to positively change people’s opinion (negative changes occur very quickly though). I don’t think Microsoft is going to drop the Xbox moniker anytime soon, but they could do with a refresh of the brand.
Target 3: Price
Let’s not beat around the bush here, Project Scorpio is going to be pretty expensive. With the technology inside the system, there’s no way that Microsoft are going to be able to sell it for the same price as the PlayStation 4 Pro. This will immediately spur PlayStation fans to rejoice and start carving their knives ready to take chunks out of the system. The truth is that the PlayStation 4 pro is not a fair comparison in the same way that you can’t compare that system with the Xbox One S or the base model PlayStation 4. Project Scorpio is a significant step up in power from the PS4 Pro. The fact of the matter is that the console is going to cost at least $500 and could well be more than that. I’m fine with that though, this is a powerhouse of a console. If I wanted a 4K gaming PC I would be spending more than that so I still see it as good value.
Target 4: What’s the point?
So, what is the point of Project Scorpio? Well according to Phil Spencer it’s about delivering “true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR”. The system definitely seems to be able to deliver on the 4K gaming front as one of the things spoken about in the Digital Foundry piece was that they saw a version of Forza Motorsport 6 running in 4K with some of the PC version’s ultra settings. When it comes to VR, everything is a little more uncertain. For a start, Microsoft hasn’t announced any VR products or compatibility with any current third-party products. We’re just going to have to wait for Microsoft’s E3 press conference to see what plans they have in that area.
There are still a lot of questions about Microsoft’s new console. Is this just mid-system refresh or the start of something else? Microsoft will tell you that Project Scorpio is about offering “a world where you can play without boundaries, a world beyond generations”. This does make it sound like Xbox One is here to stay in the way that the iPhone is here to stay. One ecosystem with regular revisions that provide more power, but you can still use apps and play games on older models; they just don’t look as good or run as fast. Whether this is what Project Scorpio is the start of we just don’t know. What I do know though is that I’m really excited for the new system and I hope that everyone gives it a chance before shooting it down.