The video game industry is about to witness what can be described as an outright war between its three major console manufacturers. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will be releasing the PlayStation Neo, Xbox Scorpio and NX in the coming months, as gamers are provided with a whole new raft of console options.
The PlayStation Neo has the obvious advantage of being the first to market of the three consoles. Although Sony has yet to confirm all of the details relating to this forthcoming machine, it is widely expected that it will be available in October. This release date would enable Sony to tie-in the PlayStation Neo with its PlayStation VR virtual reality device, with the latter also being expected around this time.
Sony is really releasing the Neo in order to build on its already impressive position in the existing console landscape. The PlayStation 4 has dominated the current video games generation, leaving both Microsoft and Nintendo trailing in its wake. This means that Sony has less need to take chances with its next console release then either of its major rivals. But a more powerful machine is very much required in order to deliver virtual reality, at least according to some reports, and Sony has staked a significant amount of its reputation in the PlayStation VR unit.
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Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that the specs being linked with the PlayStation Neo are significantly more conservative than those of the Xbox Scorpio. It is likely that the PlayStation Neo will be an upgraded version of the existing PlayStation 4, rather than a hugely revolutionary new machine.
Nonetheless, it is anticipated that the PlayStation Neo will have double the processing power of the PlayStation 4, and Sony has confirmed that it will be fully 4K enabled. Many in the industry doubt that the machine will have the potential to deliver true 4K gaming, but some form of upgraded resolution could be available to owners of the PlayStation Neo out of the box.
With the developers of the iconic Gran Turismo title having confirmed that virtual reality will feature in its next generation driving game, Sony already has a potential killer app for the PlayStation Neo and VR systems. This will make the PlayStation Neo an attractive mid-generation machine when it launches later this year.
By contrast, there is far more pressure on Microsoft to gamble with its next console release, considering that the vast corporation has rather failed in the marketplace with the Xbox One. Although Microsoft has dragged back some ground after a disastrous launch of its current generation console, the fact remains that Sony has dominated nearly every global market region with the PlayStation 4.
This means that Microsoft has less to lose in terms of market share with the Xbox Scorpio, and the consensus of opinion seems to suggest that this will lead the consumer electronics giant to design and manufacture an extremely powerful machine.
Thus, early rumors related to the Xbox Scorpio suggest that it could be four times as powerful as the existing Xbox One. This would get the Xbox Scorpio into the ballpark of 4K resolution gaming, although even such a monstrously powerful console as this could possibly struggle with that extremely demanding screen resolution.
But the Microsoft hierarchy has promised that this will be a jaw-dropping machine when it is released, and in order to deliver this vision, the Xbox Scorpio is likely to release in the latter months of 2017. This can be considered something of a risky market strategy, as Microsoft itself already established a massive lead over Sony in the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 generation when the Sony machine came to market one year after the Xbox release.
However, it is clear that Microsoft must do something outstanding in order to change the market perception of the Xbox range, and thus the outstanding specs being linked with the Xbox One perhaps make sense for the corporation. If the Xbox range is really to seriously challenge as the number one console on the market, it must surely deliver something truly outstanding and unique, and it seems that Microsoft is determined to do this with the Xbox Scorpio.
Nintendo has often been the great innovator in the video games marketplace, and the corporation will never willingly ditch this reputation and simply follow the crowd with its machines. Thus, the Nintendo NX will definitely be a departure from the powerhouse Sony and Microsoft consoles, with Nintendo having confirmed publicly that specs are never a massive priority for the Japanese developer.
Instead, the Nintendo NX will be focused on delivering an an absorbing gameplay experience, with Nintendo also promising that the console will include features that have never been seen in the console niche previously. It will be intriguing to see precisely what is meant by this, but we will not have too long to wait, with the console expected to hit the stores in the latter part of Q1 2017.
What is clear for Nintendo is that the company needs to alter its approach significantly from recent console releases, with the Wii U having been something of a failure for the Japanese company. While the original Wii attracted a lot of casual gamers, Nintendo was ultimately unable to convince them to shell out for other software in many cases. Meanwhile, the mainstream, hardcore audience that Nintendo needed to tap into in order for the Wii to be a sustained success were unconvinced by the relatively paltry power of the device.
So Nintendo has already promised that the NX will deliver full HD gaming, and the specs of the machine are expected to be in the PlayStation 4 ballpark. Coupled with the unrivalled game design of Nintendo, a machine with these capabilities could deliver some of the most memorable titles in the history of gaming. Whether Nintendo can attract enough consumers to the machine while up against the behemoths of Sony and Microsoft, though, remains to be seen.