“We’ve created the most powerful console with you in mind,” says Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox. He’s talking about all of us. Gamers and developers. In a not so shocking blog post today, Spencer promises to unveil Project Scorpio to the masses at E3. Would Microsoft really do it any other way?
The good news is, the folks at Xbox already touched on a lot of the technical side of things with Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry. That leaves more talk for the stuff that actually matters. Games. Price. Those kind of things.
In many respects, it’s a chance for the Xbox team to pitch the Xbox platform to us again. The rollout of the Xbox One was a disaster. But Spencer and crew have done a bang up job at righting the ship. They’re not all the way there yet, the but Xbox One is in a lot better position now than it was four years ago. The launch of a new console is the perfect opportunity to convince us why the Xbox platform is the best place to play games.
Let’s dive into how the Xbox team can sell us on Project Scorpio.
Show don’t tell
Xbox is pretty good about doing this during their E3 conferences, but this year is even more important. We need to see why we should buy Project Scorpio. What does it offer that we can’t already get with a regular Xbox One? I get more frames per second and 4K, but a premium product needs more. Show us something mind-blowing.
Will they? Both Microsoft and Sony put themselves in a tight spot. They built these powerful machines, but don’t want to split the userbase. That means games on PS4 Pro/Scorpio need to run on PS4/Xbox One.
I get it. Both don’t want to alienate their customers. But that also means devs can’t take full advantage of the power. And, we’ll eventually see game performance suffer on the older hardware.
Scorpio-exclusive features could be the answer. What if Halo could get a full-blown map editor (multiplayer and single player content) on Scorpio? Xbox One owners could still play the maps, and devs could harness the extra power for more sophisticated community features. The base game stays the same, but there are extra features on Scorpio that benefit everyone.
Pretty graphics are great and all, but I want to see how Scorpio adds to the gameplay itself.
Hell, you could argue this is the most important part of the reveal. There’s a lot of power packed in here, but console gamers are used to the $399 price point. PS4/PS4 Pro launched at that price. The Xbox 360 (Premium) launched at that price. The PS3 launched at $499/$599, and we know the uphill battle it faced. The Xbox One launched at $499 and was one of its many issues at launch.
Bottom line, $399 is the sweet spot. History has shown going much higher than that is bad news.
If Microsoft wanted to make a splash, they would price it at $299. Same as an Xbox One S. You’re thinking no way. Well, there is a catch with where I’m going. Microsoft would tie it into a one-year Xbox Live subscription.
Microsoft has subsidized consoles before. In 2012, a $99 Xbox 360/Kinect bundle was introduced with a two-year Xbox Live subscription at $14.99/month.
A $499 price point is pushing it. $599 is a non-starter. The Scorpio’s price has to be competitive with PS4 Pro. $399 would make the most sense. $299 would get everyone’s attention.
It’s an intriguing thought. Microsoft has done it before, so it’s not outlandish. Would you be more willing to upgrade or buy your first Xbox at a $299 price-point with a one-year Xbox Live subscription?
The Next Halo, Gears, Forza
Microsoft’s first party is stagnant. “Xbox has no games” is a common slight thrown at the console. It’s not true, but it does lack PlayStation’s variety. The folks at Xbox are promising to fix this. You have to remember, Phil Spencer only took over Xbox three years ago. It takes time to develop games.
This E3, we should get good looks (and release dates hopefully) for Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3. Spencer is promising a “diverse lineup of games coming this year that will only be playable on Xbox One and will play better on Project Scorpio.”
We will see. Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3 need to deliver in a big way. Sony already had a big win with Horizon: Zero Dawn. Not to mention all the marketing deals they have in place with huge games coming this holiday season. Microsoft needs its first party to step up.
Still, I’m a Halo/Forza junkie. Give me a look at Halo 6. And please 343, go all out. Full map editor for multiplayer and single player content. Something like DOOM’s SnapMap, but turned to 11.
We can dream, right? I play Xbox to play with my friends. But, what about games that just work better on PC? Games like Age of Empires 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (which is coming to consoles), Total War and others. The line between Xbox and PC is already blurring with Xbox Play Anywhere.
Could be nothing. Could be something. Keyboard/mouse support would make certain games much easier to play. As for the unfair advantage on shooters? If devs could disable party chat on certain game modes (Call of Duty on Xbox 360), I’m sure there’s a way to disable keyboard/mouse on shooters.
Embrace the Xbox Live Community
Remember 1 vs. 100? I want those games again. Xbox One is getting plenty of community friendly features like Clubs, but instead of finding games to play with the community – bring the community to the games.
The Xbox Live community is Microsoft’s biggest strength – use it.
What do you want to see from the Scorpio reveal most? More games? Prettier graphics? More features?