Sony has finally confirmed that it will release a PlayStation Neo console, and already attention is turning to Microsoft’s Xbox Scorpio response. It has been rumored that the software giant will release a mid-generation console in response to the PlayStation Neo, and reports have indicated that this will even indeed be more powerful than the Sony offering.
Xbox Scorpio or Xbox Two – Two consoles planned
In fact, Microsoft could have two new Xbox consoles on the horizon, well ahead of the Xbox Two generation. Aside from the Xbox Scorpio, a beefed up version of the Xbox One, it is also suggested that Microsoft will release a slimline version of its existing console as well. This has been very common in previous console generations, with both Sony and Microsoft manufacturing slim versions of their initial console hardware.
Phil Spencer denies Xbox 1.5 concept
So what are the arguments for and against the release of the Xbox Scorpio? Certainly, Microsoft has yet to confirm the existence of this console, and a very high status individual from the corporation has even gone as far as pouring scorn on the concept previously. Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, suggested that the corporation would never produce an Xbox 1.5, hinting that a mid-generation release was not on the Microsoft radar.
This does not exactly rule out the Xbox Scorpio concept, as Spencer could have been referring to a reduced spec console release, rather than the powerful machine that the Xbox Scorpio purports to be.
Microsoft has nothing to lose
What can be said with some confidence is that Microsoft has extremely little to lose in the existing console generation. Sony has been on top in the lifecycle of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 since before the two consoles were even released into the public domain. Microsoft has scored numerous public relations own goals, and has never really recovered from this, despite its best attempts to improve the Xbox One gaming experience.
Meanwhile, Sony has gone from strength to strength in the PlayStation 4 generation, and has built up a significant, and probably completely unassailable, lead in sales. Microsoft is extremely unlikely to catch Sony in the existing console generation via a cautious strategy, so it may be worthwhile for the corporation to consider tossing in all of its chips and producing a really powerful console with the aim of blowing consumers away.
Another aspect of its future operations which Microsoft will unquestionably wish to take into consideration is the close collaboration that Xbox technology is expected to have with PC gaming. Microsoft itself has already stated that it is looking to forge stronger contacts with PC and Steam gaming platforms with the intention of ensuring that future Xbox consoles have longer shelf lives.
Whether this would tarnish the possibility of an Xbox Scorpio is doubtful, but this is very much a long-term strategy for the corporation, rather than something that would rule out an immediate hardware release.
The positive Xbox legacy
In considering the release of an Xbox Scorpio, Microsoft may consider its position in the marketplace, the branding of Xbox, and the history of its console operations, not merely the commercial potential.
There are two diametrically opposed possible viewpoints on the history of the Xbox brand. The first is that Microsoft has been rather successful in establishing the Xbox as a credible console contender, and indeed a word that is now part of the common cultural lexicon. Beginning from scratch just under 15 years ago, the Xbox has grown from a marginal concept which many were unconvinced would be successful, to one of the most major players in the video game marketplace.
Microsoft has enjoyed particular success in North America, where consumers unquestionably identified with the Xbox brand and product range. Although it has been significantly less successful in other geographical regions, there is absolutely no doubt that Microsoft and the Xbox console range form a critical part of the leading console duopoly.
The Xbox console can also be credited with having overcome the fact that Microsoft is certainly not a cool company. Sony has always had a significant advantage in this respect, and retains this impression outside of the North American continent. Considering the natural disadvantages which Microsoft was battling against, the establishment of the Xbox as a big selling video games console can certainly be viewed as a major achievement.
On the other hand, a more negative viewpoint of the Xbox brand is equally possible. The original Xbox console did establish itself in the marketplace, but barely made an impression compared to the PlayStation two, with the Sony console outselling Microsoft six-to-one.
This was quickly reversed by the Xbox 360, with Microsoft to be commended for getting its console to market so quickly. However, the disastrous fail rate of this console seriously tarnished the legacy of the Xbox 360, and ultimately cost Microsoft billions and a huge amount of momentum in the marketplace.
Then the corporation compounded things by making unbelievable PR blunders with the Xbox One, before releasing a console that was significantly less powerful than the PlayStation 4, and which struggled to deliver 1080p gaming in its early days.
The future of gaming
In short, the Xbox Scorpio is an opportunity for Microsoft to demonstrate that it can get the console concept correct. If the corporation was to release a truly mind-blowing machine, which was significantly more powerful and impressive than its Sony competitor, it could really play a major role in reinvigorating Microsoft’s market position.
Additionally, the future of gaming would seem to dictate that Microsoft must release a more powerful sequel to the existing Xbox One. If Microsoft ever wishes to embrace such important concepts as 4K resolution and virtual reality, it is essential that it manufactures a more powerful console, as the Xbox One is simply incapable of delivering such technology.
On balance, the Xbox Scorpio is a likely release, as it simply makes strategic sense for Microsoft at this time.