Project Scorpio: 3 Important Things Microsoft Should Do To Avoid Xbox One Like Failure
As we possibly get closer and closer to Project Scorpio official reveal, it gets clear Microsoft needs to shake things up on multiple platform aspect and not only - although it's a good start point - the much promoted high power. Basically, 6 teraflops will be good and we're happy about this being the first console to offer "true 4K" (I already know they'll push a lot on this, and it's fine), but this is not an industry where you can think to win the console war by just offering the most powerful hardware.
The original Xbox failed despite being the most powerful out there, and in terms of legacy you could hardly remember it if the internal hard disk and the Halo franchise weren't born with it (I'm a huge fan of the original Xbox, but that's it).
Scorpio risks to have the same fate, and Microsoft ultimately needs to work to improve based on fan feedback - the company has already shown this can be done since the always online DRM u-turn and Phil Spencer's reign - when it comes to games.
Here's the first thing -
Project Scorpio can't be just an empty box with teraflops, bandwidth and other technical stuff we absolutely didn't know about before Microsoft started to talk about at last E3. My opinion is the Redmond platform holder doesn't have many surprises from that point of view, and this is what concerns me most.
Chances are titles like Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 will be the most important elements of novelty when the console releases, even though those are set to be released across the entire family of Xbox One consoles. Forza Motorsport 7 is surely coming on top of that lineup.
Do you see what's happening here? While PS4 has shown the ability to constantly renew its lineup of exclusive titles, also thanks to second and third party developers/publishers, Xbox One is clearly failing to provide surprises.
We're getting each and every year the same scheme, with third party studios not providing exclusives anymore (like, say, Nier Automata) and first party devs, if they don't get suddenly closed, stuck in the middle of intellectual properties they are built ad hoc to produce. Where's creativity? Maybe it got lost in those six teraflops.
The Brand is another thing Microsoft should do proper consideration. Xbox One means "the second most sold console after PlayStation 4", so opting for "Xbox One X" or "Xbox One something" in the likes of "PS4 Pro" could not be the best choice available. Sure enough, it's not an easy call to just go out there and say "we're calling this Xbox ..." while you keep saying that the concept itself of generation doesn't exist anymore.
Giving up on the "Xbox One" branding would convey a very specific message to users, and despite the content itself, which is going to be available on S and base model as well, would provide the idea of a completely different generation/family.
My opinion is Microsoft will offer a denomination similar to PS4 Pro, without dropping the Xbox One brand, because the main idea is not to mess with customers. On the long term, when a true next generation comes, that could be even tougher to explain to users.
Pricing, of course. This is the only thing I'm sure Microsoft won't mess up with, after launching Xbox One at $499 and witnessing, because of this wrong choice, its commercial debacle in comparison with PlayStation 4. Project Scorpio needs to ship at $399, just like PS4 Pro did back in November, and even this way Microsoft will probably face Sony's aggressive pricing strategy with the high-end PlayStation going down to around $299/349 for a limited time. In multiple nations, it happened with PS4 Slim when Switch launched in March.
Going any higher would determine a huge risk for Microsoft. In case, they'd need to explain and properly show the difference between the true 4K they claim Project Scorpio is capable of and PS4 Pro's 1800p upscaled to 4K with checkerboard rendering. Something I'm still not fully convinced of. It's not going to be huge, especially during the first few years, when it comes to third party titles; it's not going to be enough for first party games. So, returning to the point, Microsoft can't just bet everything on raw power, basically because it's very hard to explain to the public.
And this is all about the things I think don't work or should work better when it comes to Xbox. On top of that, it'd be incorrect not to make mention of the things Microsoft is doing or has done right in the process that led to the presentation of Project Scorpio at last E3.
Starting from the latest -- Xbox Game Pass. It's a very interesting service, and it confirms, despite offering not so recent titles, that in terms of platform Xbox has done huge steps forward since the days Sony revealed PlayStation Plus. Games With Gold is also part of that, and is doing constantly better, and most importantly better than its direct competitor.
Xbox Live keeps being the most reliable network and, together with a constantly redesigned dashboard, shows each and every day Microsoft commitment into making the platform the most comfortable possible for users. If you think about that, it's like the Windows legacy -- the Redmond platform holder was born doing computer OS, and especially in the last couple years that has become pretty clear on consoles as well.
These are definitely things Microsoft needs to restart from when it comes to Scorpio and to the future. Services and platform should come together (if not as a secondary aspect) with games, with a more varied lineup and more freedom to the first party studios (given that I don't think new ones will be opened after so many of them got shuttered in Europe recently) to deliver new ideas.
Hopefully, this is something Xbox will improve from Project Scorpio going on. This is something users highly demand, and you can't just ignore feedback.