Microsoft has only just revealed the specs of their updated console, which is still unnamed and known only as Project Scorpio (at this point it may as well just keep the name), but they’ve already let us know why they find it so important.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Mike Ybarra, Microsoft VP of the Xbox and Windows gaming platform, said the company is striving to “win developers back” after losing dominance in the wake of the PS4’s success, as they transitioned from Xbox 360 to Xbox One. The 360 enjoyed a pretty cushy spot as a dev favorite console rather than Sony’s PlayStation 3, but the updated console wars quickly went to Sony in the Next Gen round.
In Ybarra’s own words, “with Xbox 360 we had the absolute best platform for developers, [with Xbox One] we sort of lost that in a two-year time-frame, so we said how do we win the mind-share of those developers back? We want the best games running on our box and there are tools, devkits and some arrows like that to win the developers back. So that was a big priority for us as we approached this product.”
We do know that Scorpio has better specs than the PS4 Pro, but will it be able to knock down Sony’s lead? It seems a bit unlikely. Players switching consoles mid-generation isn’t the kind of response I’d personally place a bet on, and we still don’t have a whole lot on what exactly will make the Scorpio so much better. Yes, the specs are better, but that means little if it’s a pain to handle.
Because, let’s be honest, devs will make games on platforms that players prefer. It’s the smarter choice, doesn’t matter which console you prefer to work with if your market is that much smaller. So no, Microsoft hasn’t forgotten about the average consumer.
“When we see consumers tell us they want ‘the latest technology, the latest experience, the best experience more frequently’ to our traditional console business that doesn’t really align with that, you have to pause, you have to take some pretty big risks,” Ybarra claimed. He went on to state that Microsoft is taking a risk with Scorpio to work with the “business model of saying let’s change things up and let’s give consumers what they want, sooner.”
And sure, Sony’s lost a bit of their early lead in the console wars by backtracking from their original messaging. And sure, they’ve screwed over some third-party microphone manufacturers, refused to get on board with cross-platform play, refused to add player mods to Fallout 4, and raised the price on a PSN subscription.
However, the PS4 has had some fantastic success, and it does have the simpler, more easily navigated UI compared to the Xbox One.
Plus, how well will a “devs only” console like the Scorpio do? The PS4 Pro sales are nowhere near what the base console’s sales are, which was predictable considering it wasn’t quite enough of a difference to make the jump. It’s price though, was a nice selling point. The Scorpio is estimated to cost around $499 which is a cool $100 more than Sony’s updated console. Given all that, I honestly don’t expect the Scorpio to change much in the current generation console race.
So maybe the Scorpio can be the dev-favorite console. I just don’t think it’ll give back Microsoft that dominance they want though they might gets some prestige back. And they have to be wanting that. After all, they did just lose their E3 opening spot yesterday.