I thought I would let the dust settle somewhat before tackling Project Scorpio head-on because, let’s be honest, it’s caused quite a stir. The inferno that is the console war does not need any more fuel adding to it, but Microsoft seemed intent to deliver their next blow in the battle of attrition between them and Sony. But is it really a blow aimed at Sony? From what I can tell, Microsoft is putting an end to all the bravado and aiming to deliver the best experience possible for their fans.
It came as no real surprise when Scorpio was announced as a mid-generation upgrade rather than a successor to the Xbox One. Much like the PS4 Pro was for PlayStation fans, Project Scorpio will give One owners an opportunity to upgrade to a 4K capable machine. And, in my eyes, that’s what Scorpio is; an opportunity to be part of the next step in console evolution.
As technology evolves and becomes more affordable, our demands inevitably increase and create a natural cycle. Old technology becomes redundant with new and better technology replacing it within an undetermined time scale. Take the advent of HD as an example, this was the big pull and selling point for the last generation of consoles and gave us a real reason to upgrade to a newer console. Is that not what Scorpio is now trying to achieve much like the 360 did with HD but with 4K?
I’ve seen many an article and video blasting Scorpio saying it’s nothing more than a weak gaming PC in disguise and a gimmick, almost unnecessary. But I don’t see this as a problem as that’s what consoles are at the end of the day; lower spec PC’s offering a convenient gaming package to those that don’t want to fork out for a £1000+ gaming machine. Why build something yourself, when you can play the same games (albeit at a lower quality) in a pre-built unit that fits perfectly with the rest of your home entertainment collection?
Granted, it comes at a somewhat earlier stage in the current generation’s cycle than most were expecting, but Scorpio is the aforementioned convenience. We can now have native 4K gaming in a home console with no self assembly required. 4K was always inevitable, but imagine the outcry if we had to wait until the next generation of consoles before we could experience native 4K gaming. Yet when that opportunity is offered, it’s not good enough.
Before I penned this article, I conducted a poll on Twitter to see what the general consensus of my followers was regarding Scorpio. I expected the worst and only a small amount voted, but the results surprised me. Out of 90 votes, 70% of people said that they liked Scorpio and would buy it with 10% saying they wouldn’t buy it and 20% saying they liked it but wouldn’t buy it. Most people stated that the main reason for their excitement was being able to play games in 4K without the need to build a PC, justifying the above point.
Now it would be silly not raise questions over the cost of Scorpio as this will be a potential sticking point for most, myself included. Microsoft have already said that Scorpio will be a “Premium console” but the price will not be astronomical. Now this doesn’t really settle those pricing doubts, but let’s say worst case scenario it costs circa £450, that will be significantly less than a comparable PC. Of course this won’t be upgradeable, but for the foreseeable future this will surely future proof your console experience.
Personally, I’m really excited for Scorpio. I can see why some people may raise concerns over the quality of games suffering for the sake of running at 4K but I cannot see that happening. Now more than ever, gamers are more savvy with their purchases so developers can ill afford to deliver a game that runs at 4K, yet fails to deliver a meaningful experience. Nor can Microsoft afford to have another questionable launch on their hands.
If I were a gambling man, I’d back Scorpio to be big. I think Microsoft are confident that they are onto something and I think this year’s E3 will be very interesting indeed…