Scorpio was a monetary and brand saving decision. After months of people comparing resolutions and FPS of the launch-PS4 and Xbox One, Microsoft decided they needed to do something. With whispers of a PS4.5, they knew if they wanted to even walk into the shadow of PS4’s sales numbers they’d need to come out with better tech and if the spec rumors are true, they will do just that this fall.
Unfortunately for both Microsoft and the consumer, their engineering feat will not drive people to turn on their consoles. And although this fall they may have just that, that does not change the problem of their lineup. The engineering feat that is the Scorpio will not drive people to turn on their consoles. If Microsoft’s business team does not make deals with developers for second or third party exclusives, it doesn’t matter how good the games look on an Xbox One. If someone owns a Playstation they will not spend ~$550 for a game to simply look better.
Things were looking up for Microsoft when they announced their Universal Windows Platform (UMP) system. Players could now play a selection of games they’d purchased on the Xbox Live store on their Windows 10 PC. At first glance, it sounds like an amazing value proposition, finally you could buy your games in one place and play them across multiple devices, unfortunately for all involved, it was a great idea – that was only half-baked.
The problem that Microsoft created for themselves with the UWP system was: even with the release of the Scorpio Microsoft could no longer say that a game was exclusively on Xbox. Gamers had no reason to spend that much on a system, with the power equivalent to a NVidia 7xx GPU, when their computer had hardware generations ahead of that. Players now had no explicit reason to buy an Xbox aside from the fact that they might have friends on the same system or brand loyalty.
But I did not write this piece to simply rain on Microsoft’s parade. They now have the strongest console on the market, and they’ve positioned themselves in a place of strength, they now need to take advantage of that position.
Despite PC’s becoming the ultimate powerhouses, some still find it a stretch to achieve 4K on two individual lenses on a VR device. If out of the box the Xbox Scorpio can provide players with a VR opportunity that they can’t get on their PC or their Playstation 4 (regular or Pro) they may have a winner on their hands. Now, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer has already said that the Xbox “Scorpio” will offer a VR experience, although they haven’t delved into whether that will be software or hardware. He’s also brought up that he does not want Scorpio exclusives, and that he dislikes the “closed” ecosystem of the VR hardware developers, both of these comments – together in the same interview – give me one idea, and that’s that with the strongest console platform on the market, having the ability to offer gaming experiences on both Windows and Xbox – Microsoft would win E3 in one swift movement if they did the one thing no one else has the positioning to do or would have the positioning to do: provide consumers with a machine in which they can experience VR regardless of the platform. At this point, people are investing in VR sets and it’s resembling the war between Betamax and VHS; people didn’t know where to put their money on such a split market. If Microsoft allowed people of all VR camps with a platform that they can use, despite who comes out on top 5 years from now, they’d have won more than E3, they’d have created a tectonic shift in the industry.
If you haven’t purchased an Xbox yet, what would Microsoft have to announce at E3 to win you over? And if watching this after E3: did any of their announcements excite, surprise, or – even for a moment – make you want to consider purchasing either of their consoles?