I’ve been as baffled as anyone as to Microsoft’s decision to announce the Xbox Scorpio during the same event that it announced the Xbox One S, but if you dig a little deeper you can find a philosophy hellbent on attracting newcomers to the Xbox family.
The response has been mixed, and it’s obvious that Microsoft wasn’t clear enough in its reveal of both the Xbox One S, that sleek, 40%-slimmer Xbox One redesign; and the Xbox Scorpio, that “don’t call it next-gen” next-gen console that is also fully compatible with Xbox One games and accessories.
It wasn’t clear in who Microsoft thought those consoles were for. The Xbox Scorpio isn’t being sold as a “next-gen” console, so then why would I upgrade? The Xbox One S is fairly pricy for a redesign, so why would I part ways with my current console?
These are fairly valid questions, and we’ve had to dig deeper to find what exactly Microsoft is hoping to do with each of these consoles.
In an interview with News.com.au, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said the Xbox One S was “for people still using the 360 or those outside the Xbox family”. That actually helps make sense of the Xbox One S, but I wonder if newcomers would be genuinely interested in investing in an S now when there’s a Scorpio upgrade coming in 16 months. I like the look of the S simply because it…well, looks good. Microsoft’s intent is much like Sony’s: take advantage of a growing 4K television market. In much the same way the Xbox 360 and PS3 were led into the HD era with the increase in HD television sales during the mid-00s, both sides are expanding into a market by latching onto a bandwagon in the hope of attracting new fans.
When you put it that way, Microsoft might actually have a leg-up on Sony, despite it seeming that the PlayStation VR’s entry in October was going to give Sony the advantage and buy in for the eventual PS4.5 in 2017. From August, when someone goes in to buy a 4K television, they’re going to have an Xbox One S there waiting for them to buy up to. In October there will be VR, which might seem like the more “exciting” thing to purchase, but the jury is still out as to whether people will actual buy-in to the technology for gaming purposes.
It seems as though the Xbox Scorpio is acting as Microsoft’s way to transition into a new generation (just don’t call it that), and will clearly be aimed at the hardcore Xbox fan that is already invested in Xbox. The Xbox One S is there to attract a growing market of 4K television owners, which could increase the Xbox One market exponentially.
It’s a clearer vision than the one Microsoft amplified during its E3 2016 press conference, which seemed like a muddled mess of PC and Xbox cross-functionality, new consoles and hardware customisation. It was hard to get a grasp on what I should be excited about and what I should invest in, but that’s clearer for me now.
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