2017 promises to be one of the most exciting years in video gaming for some time, with major consoles due to be released by both Microsoft and Nintendo. The Nintendo Switch and Xbox Project Scorpio will both arrive in the marketplace before 2017 is out, although the Nintendo machine is expected significantly earlier in the calendar year.
PS4 Pro defining
Both of these machines will enter into a gaming marketplace which has been defined by releases from Sony. The PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation VR headset have already created a significant impression, and this is bound to impact on the two consoles to a certain extent. However, Nintendo has already stated that it does not view the PlayStation 4 Pro as a direct rival to the Nintendo Switch, and that this device will target a different market.
Meanwhile, it is clear that the Microsoft machine is entirely intended to take market share away from the powerful PlayStation brand. This is something that the Xbox One has essentially failed to do, with the current generation Microsoft console having struggled to achieve an acceptable market share from day one.
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The early claims regarding the Xbox Project Scorpio is that it will be quite simply the most powerful console ever produced. 6 Tflop of power have been linked with this potential behemoth, and if Microsoft is able to deliver the sort of specs that haven’t been linked with the Scorpio, it will be a truly outstanding machine, possibly even capable of rivalling gaming PCs.
Nintendo has a completely different ethos to hardware, with the company relying on innovation rather than incredible internal hardware. Even as its approach to the gaming market has become increasingly unfashionable, Nintendo has remain determined not to merely follow the example of the powerful Sony and Microsoft.
Dual-purpose Nintendo Switch
Thus, the Nintendo Switch will be an entirely different machine to either the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox Scorpio. Purporting to offer something to both hardcore living room gamers and the more casual market, the Nintendo Switch features an intriguing combination of tablet gaming and standard console fare.
Microsoft suggests that its Xbox Project Scorpio will outperform the PlayStation 4 Pro, and not merely due to some vague specs. The hardware and technology giant states that the console will feature a similar AMD custom chip to the PlayStation 4 Pro, but that it will deliver a significantly higher output. According to early murmurings, the processor included in the Scorpio will be capable of performing six-trillion single precision floating point calculations per second.
Other specs relating to the Scorpio are equally impressive. For example, it has been reported that the console will sport a memory bandwidth of 320Gbps, which compares pretty competitively with gaming desktop graphic cards. It is an absolute certainty that the Project Scorpio will support 4K gaming natively, but it certainly sounds as if it will do this more capably than the existing PlayStation 4 Pro console.
What this means is that the Microsoft machine promises to deliver the most powerful gaming experience among any of the mainstream consoles. This will surely be an attractive proposition to gamers, yet the question of whether to opt for the Scorpio over the Nintendo Switch is not as clear-cut as one might imagine.
Firstly, one must consider the fact that Microsoft may not be able to deliver the sort of outstanding specifications that it has mooted for the Scorpio. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, but there is no doubt that it will be a challenge to deliver this machine, which would be far more powerful than any console released previously.
And even if Microsoft can live up to expectations in terms of specs, there is also the question of whether it can deliver the Xbox Scorpio at a competitive price point. The Xbox One was criticized for being bundled with extraneous hardware, which pushed the price above that of the PlayStation 4, with the Sony console also being more powerful. Microsoft will be conscious that it needs to get the balance right with the Xbox Scorpio if it is to achieve an enviable market share.
But one of the obvious pull factors towards the Nintendo Switch could be the pricing of the Microsoft console, with the likelihood that the Nintendo machine will enter the market at a more affordable RRP. Nintendo has always targeted the family unit with its devices, particularly since the success of the original Wii console, and this could once more be the case with the Nintendo Switch.
Exclusive Nintendo titles
Another factor in favor of Nintendo is that the corporation is arguably the most impressive producer of original software in the world. Such iconic titles as Mario and Zelda will be exclusive to the Nintendo console, despite the fact that the Japanese corporation has recently announced that it will produce software for other machines. Nintendo consoles always have some of the most impressive exclusive titles on the market, and this helps negate the fact that some of the bigger games producers will want to see evidence of audience size before committing to the Nintendo Switch.
But gamers wanting the most revolutionary experience will undoubtedly opt for the Scorpio. Microsoft will be delivering contemporary features with the Scorpio, so aside from 4K resolution, also expect support for virtual reality. It remains to be seen whether Nintendo can deliver this satisfactorily with the Nintendo Switch, considering that the hardware capabilities of the console will be seriously reduced in comparison to its mainstream competitors.
Ultimately, the Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Project Scorpio can coexist, as they are targeting completely different audiences. Microsoft will be more concerned with its ability to deal with the threat of Sony, particularly as the PlayStation 4 Pro will have established a market edge having been released twelve months earlier.
Nintendo must demonstrate that its hybrid console really serves a contemporary market purpose, although those looking for an affordable option will undoubtedly veer towards the Nintendo Switch.