The launch of Scorpio was an attempt to regain [both mind and] market share. 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 alone 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. Tech specs don’t matter if you don’t have beautiful games to showcase them.
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 have no reason to spend that much on a system, with the power equivalent to a Nvidia 7xx GPU, when their computer’s hardware made that GPU obsolete years ago. Players now had no explicit reason to buy an Xbox aside from brand loyalty and the fact that they might have friends on the same system.
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 he hasn’t delved into whether that will be software or hardware driven. 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 – gave 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 provided consumers with a machine that lets them experience VR regardless of the platform. At this point, people are investing in VR sets in a way reminiscent of the war between Betamax and VHS; people didn’t know where to put their money on such a split market. If Microsoft gives 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?
– Creating the strongest dedicated gaming machine on the market was an attempt to regain mind (and by proxy) market share.
– Unfortunately, for old and new Xbox owners alike, the graphic fidelity of your games is irrelevant if you only use the console to watch Netflix.
– Xbox CEO promised the console will be VR compatible and would not have “Scorpio exclusive” games – locking out Legacy Xbox One owners from new titles.
– To regain the position in the industry they held last console generation, Microsoft would have to call armistice in the VR war by allowing the Scorpio to run any V game, as if it were platform agnostic.