With its new 4K-ready Project Scorpio console, Microsoft has certainly brought the power. But what about the games? Any new console needs a host of new games that leverage the full extent of that system's power. Can we expect Microsoft to reveal tons of new first-party console exclusives soon? Probably not, and here's why.
As I said before, I think Project Scorpio was made for developers. With an incredible synergy between hardware and software, developers can tap the console's raw power and striking intelligence to make truly next-generation experiences. With Scorpio's 6TFLOP Polaris-derived GPU, its highly customized 2.73GHz Jaguar evolved CPU, 12GB of GDDR5 system RAM, and the highly efficient software toolsets, APIs, and other resources, developers are armed with the tools they need to bring their visions to life--all without having to make significant compromises in the process. Still, though, the Xbox brand just isn't attractive to a good portion of developers--mainly Japanese devs--and Microsoft has a hard time making exclusivity deals.
Don't expect this to change with Project Scorpio.
Yes, I do think the system's power and efficiency will turn heads, but the install base just isn't there. Devs will go with PlayStation 4 instead due to the massive install base and attach rate the platform presents. So why doesn't Microsoft aggressively pursue new deals and forge new contracts with developers? It's simple: they don't have to.
Sony absolutely has to rely on the PlayStation brand to make profits; Microsoft, however, doesn't. Remember Microsoft has a myriad of business arms, and it's even turned Xbox into a service that bridges both consoles and PC. In short, Microsoft has tons of plans in place that go beyond console gaming--even Project Scorpio.
If Project Scorpio is going to sell, it's going to sell on its own merits--native 4K gaming, impressive specs, 4K 60FPS HDR, etc etc. Gamers will buy the console for games, of course, but you wouldn't buy something like Scorpio just for the experiences themselves, but to experience said titles in a new level of performance.
That isn't to say Microsoft won't ensure more first-party or third-party exclusives come to Xbox One, but it does tell me that it won't adjust its pace just because of Project Scorpio.
Remember that Microsoft still expects to sell more Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles than Project Scorpio. Their native 4K box will be a premium-priced console that's made for enthusiast console gamers, not the general mainstream public, so it'll be priced as such.
In order to be attracted to Project Scorpio, developers have to be attracted to Xbox One as well, simply because more games will own and play games on the lesser system. And, of course, Project Scorpio won't have its own games, per se: the 4K system plays Xbox One games, not its own specific ports.
Scorpio will play all existing Xbox One games better than the original Xbox One, but to tap the enhanced power, games will need to be updated with 4K asset and texture packs. In short, every Xbox One game is only half of the formula for a true Project Scorpio experience, with the patches and optimizations being the other half.
But I do agree, Project Scorpio absolutely needs games.
Then again...doesn't it already have them?
When Scorpio launches in Holiday 2017, it'll play the full Xbox One library of games. I expect all of those first-party Xbox One games to be enhanced and optimized with specific patches and tweaks to breathe new life into classic games: features like native 4K, tightened frame rates, dramatically improved load times, awesome texture filtering, 4K textures and assets, and even boosts for 1080p displays.
Those aren't exactly new games though. Scorpio needs a host of new, fresh experiences for players to enjoy. And I absolutely agree...but I wouldn't expect too many surprised at E3 2017.
Now I do think Xbox's Phil Spencer will unveil some surprises at E3 2017, but I don't think there will be very many. I expect to see confirmations of a Crackdown 3 release date, maybe Cuphead too, and a showcase of State of Decay 2, Phantom Dust, and Sea of Thieves all running at native 4K with appropriate scaled frame rates and optimizations.
Forza 7 should be the biggest showcase at E3, though. Turn 10 has hit 4K 60FPS in a Forza 6 tech demo scaled for Xbox One's settings, meaning the studio has the know-how and toolset to hit native 4K 60FPS in its ForzaTech engine. The devs even hit 4K 60FPS at Ultra PC settings with GPU power left to spare, pretty much hinting Forza 7 will be absolutely insane.
Project Scorpio confirmed specs
- SoC: Highly customized 360mm² AMD System-on-Chip built on 16nm FinFET
- GPU: Polaris-derived GPU with 40 Compute Units at 1172MHz, 6TFLOPs of Compute Performance
- CPU: Custom x86 "Jaguar Evolved" 8-core CPU at 2.3GHz, 4MB L2 cache
- Memory: 12GB GDDR5 memory with 326GB/s bandwidth (12x 6.8GHz modules on a 384-bit bus)
- Storage: 1TB 2.5-inch HDD
- Media: 4K UHD Blu-ray player
Based on Microsoft's track record and sluggish pace, I don't think the company is going to just flip a switch and transform its business structure just for Project Scorpio--especially since it'll be an enthusiast grade system that won't be the most popular console out there.
Microsoft could accelerate its Xbox One game production with a host of new contracts and deals, but it won't just be to herald Project Scorpio--it'll be a decision to bolster the entire Xbox One family of consoles.
But I just don't see it happening. I think Microsoft's Xbox division will continue on its own pace and do what it's been doing for the past few years: steadily drip-feeding exclusives and relying on indies and third-party games to fill in the blanks.
Speaking of third-party games, I think E3 2017 will be a blowout for these titles.
We should see Red Dead Redemption 2 and Battlefront 2 running at full 4K on Project Scorpio, and since the latter uses DX12, we could even see Battlefront 2 hitting 4K 60FPS with all kinds of tweaks and awesome additions. I'd like to think Microsoft has secured more third party contenders to showcase and exemplify Project Scorpio's raw prowess.
The Xbox division knows the platform needs more games, and needs more exclusives, but I don't think things are going to change any time soon, and I don't think Project Scorpio will be the catalyst for a major new shift for the platform.
I could be wrong, but if it's anything Xbox has taught me, it's to tamper your expectations.
Project Scorpio will release Holiday 2017, and check below for a huge list of previous Scorpio coverage.
Project Scorpio Coverage Index:
- Project Scorpio only takes 1% perf hit with 4K assets
- Project Scorpio shouldn't cost $700, nor $399
- Project Scorpio has custom hard disk to load 4K textures
- DirectX 12 games will have advantage in Project Scorpio
- Project Scorpio could be a sleek compact powerhouse
- Project Scorpio devs have access to 8GB GDDR5 RAM
- Xbox Scorpio: the best display of AMD technology yet
- Project Scorpio will play all Xbox One games better
- Project Scorpio could challenge GTX 1070 and Fury X GPUs
- Project Scorpio rocks high-end vapor chamber cooler
- Project Scorpio hits 4K 60FPS in Forza 6
- Project Scorpio: 6 TFLOP Polaris GPU at 1173MHz, 2.73GHz Jaguar CPU, 12GB GDDR5 memory