Every since the days when Atari was released, each new console that has come out has always tried to unseat the reigning king of consoles. It comes with the territory of gaming being a technology driven type of entertainment. With every generation, the die size shrinks, and more and more transistors can be plopped in to a board and graphics cards become more and more “hardcore”.
The last round, if looking at sales alone since the PS4 was released in 2013, we see Sony leading the pack selling 50 million, followed by Microsoft (xbox one) at 40 mil and Nintendo (Wi U) at 13 million as of December 2016. And no, I am not trying to start a console flaming war here… I’m just stating the facts. But as it stands, we seem to be at the verge of a new console generation. The first volley comes from Microsoft.
Over the past few months, there have been rumors of a new machine that is supposed to be the “next” big thing in gaming– that is supposedly going to compete with not just consoles but with the middle spec-ed members of the PC master race. It was called Project: Scorpio. A few days ago Microsoft released it’s specs. and since we are also interested in how it competes with the existing heavyweights we have a chart below courtesy of Digital Foundry.
At a glance you can already see that the new console clearly beats both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S in all categories. So what do the numbers mean?
Although the CPU clock speed is higher on Scorpio, the bigger spec bumps are the amount of RAM and memory bandwidth that the new system will run on as well as the fact that the GPU will be something along the lines of a mid-spec-ed VR ready PC. This also means that Scorpio might be the hook that will get Microsoft consoles into the VR market which the PS4 has already penetrated (and even dominated). The Oculus even came with an Xbox One controller as part of the bundle so this assumption isn’t really that far fetched. The extra muscle the system has can also be used to drive real 4k gaming at 60fps- something that 4k early adapters have been looking for.
But one question people might ask would be, where does it leave the run of the mill Xbox One user who might have JUST upgraded to the S version just recently? Microsoft says that the backwards compatibility of the new system will be a smoother process with no required downloads or plugins. The company claims that the overall experience will be smoother and older games will run more consistently better with faster load times, and all this without requiring developers to create updated versions of their titles.
On paper the system looks quite magical. Being an enthusiast however requires me to proceed with more caution. What it will boil down to is what games will we see on the next system? What kind of exclusives will push the buying public to upgrade ? How much will the console cost and what will keep it from becoming just a dust collector on the entertainment deck?
What do you think? Will the new system be worth it? Do you plan on getting it?
Microsoft plans to do a full reveal during E3 in June so we will definitely revisit the system again once it is properly named. Expected release date is holiday 2017.