Looking through the articles at Eurogamer – a terrific scoop for Digital Foundry, which has really grown since the beginning of the HD gaming era as one of the best (or perhaps the only major) tech-oriented gaming sites around – there’s no doubting that Scorpio is going to pack a punch in the graphics department. The most powerful console of all time, indeed. However, I can’t help but wonder how this is going to solve the biggest problems Microsoft faces with Xbox One (and the Xbox brand in general). As widely observed recently, the PS4 has been recipient of a lineup of console exclusives that has thrown Xbox One’s own lineup into sharp relief. In very basic terms, PS4 has built a wide lead in sales due to cheaper (initial) price, marginally yet quantifiably more powerful hardware, more gamer-friendly corporate messaging, and more quality exclusives. Microsoft has since remedied or nullified two of these four issues through price drops and Phil Spencer-led charm offensive whose most recent coup is the Xbox Game Pass and the new ‘Steam-like’ refund policy. Project Scorpio ostensibly solves one more problem, even taking into account PS4 Pro, but looking at the spec sheet it would be a major surprise if Scorpio achieved price parity with the latter’s $3991. More to the point, it does not make up for the lack of exclusives. It was notable that a lot of the software focus during the Scorpio reveal was on existing IPs, whether in the form of older Xbox games or Forza Motorsport. Microsoft understandably wanted the narrative to be on the hardware specs, but it didn’t do much to persuade people that the ‘exclusives gap’ would be closed. Even disregarding price, Microsoft is offering a considerably more powerful machine with the potential of software to come, against a console that while weaker has also received an upgrade and which can give you quality exclusives right now.
All eyes will be on E3 this year. Price will be important, but with the Scorpio hardware reveal out of the way, Microsoft will be under the gun to announce new games. Halo, Gears of War and Forza are great, but there has to be more.
- Conventional wisdom would suggest $499, or at least $449, although a $50 differential against PS4 Pro would represent a pretty good deal. ↩