Four Questions Microsoft Needs To Answer About Xbox Scorpio At Its Press Conference – Forbes
The Xbox Scorpio’s reveal is nigh. Microsoft has been slow-dripping information about this console ever since E3 last year but tomorrow, June 11, is the final coming out party, when Microsoft gets up on stage, shows us the thing and tells us that we should buy it. We already know that it’s a super powerful version of the Xbox One designed for 4K gaming. We know that it’s more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro, and we know that it’s designed to sit alongside, rather than supplant, the Xbox One. There are still, however, some big question marks going into tomorrow’s press conference. Here are the four biggest questions Microsoft will need to answer up on stage:
Price: This is the big one. The thing is, while we know that Xbox Scorpio is a very powerful console, power is and always will be relative to price. Hardware with the capability of an Xbox One S would be ridiculously powerful at $50, but a machine capable of twice what Scorpio is capable of would be underpowered at $10,000. Those are absurd extremes, but the essential point remains: with the way that hardware works now it can be hard to uncouple concepts of power from concepts of price. That’s why this was the number one question going into the Xbox One reveal back in 2013, and that’s why it’s the biggest question going into the Xbox Scorpio reveal today. Xbox Scorpio’s price needs to be high enough to justify the guts that are going into this machine, but not so high as to turn all but highest end consumers off and cede ground to the less capable PS4 Pro. For my money, I’d bet the thing is going up at $499, but Paul Tassi has more in-depth analysis.
Final Form Factor: It matters and it doesn’t matter. Microsoft has shown us dozens of microchip closeups but we still have no idea what the Xbox Scorpio, in a real sense, actually looks like. What is the machine that you’ll be taking out of the box? Microsoft has been wise to downplay the form factor so far in favor of hardware, sending an important message about where the company’s priorities lie with the new machine. And yet, at the end of the day, people respond to physical objects and the Xbox Scorpio is going to be a physical object. The PlayStation 4 triumphed over the Xbox One for a ton of reasons, but one small part of that had to be seeing Sony’s sleek little machine up next to the 1980’s VCR that was the original Xbox One. Form factor matters, and not just for Apple. I’m genuinely curious what this machine will look like.
The Name: Another branding thing that doesn’t matter at all until it does, and so we’ll look at PS4 vs Xbox One again for guidance. PS4’s name couldn’t have possibly been more straightforward: this was the machine that came after the PS3 and the PS2 before it, which is the branding philosophy that more or less extended to the design of the entire console. The PS4 was designed to be an easy to use, straightforward iteration of the console concept we were all already familiar with. Xbox One, however, led E3 with those incredibly confusing “all in one; input one” banners, underscoring the degree to which neither the product’s name nor broader marketing strategy really made any sense. “One” became a symbol of all that led core gamers away from the console: it was positioned as an all-in-one entertainment solution rather than a game console. So that’s why I’m curious about what Microsoft will actually call the Scorpio, and not only because the Xbox brand still has no naming convention.
Games: This is one of the trickiest pieces of the Xbox Scorpio puzzle. First, the facts: you can’t have an E3 presser without games. It’s just the rules. First-party is better than third-party, but you’ve got to have at least some sort of exclusive content or partnership to trot out on stage to say that your console is the best place to play. And so Microsoft will obviously need some new trailers to show the audience, both from already-anticipated titles and maybe a new from a surprise announcement or two. But that’s where the tricky part comes in. The Xbox Scorpio won’t have any exclusives because all games will also need to run on the One and Windows PC. So Microsoft needs to simultaneously make the case for why these are awesome games that you’ll enjoy no matter where you play them and the case for why it’s worth upgrading to Scorpio to play them there. Both will be difficult arguments to make: Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up in the exclusive department, and catching up to Sony may well be impossible, at least for right now.