Welcome to the podcast, and Episode 87 of our weekly show of gaming goodness. Among the rest of the comings and goings in the world of gaming on this week’s pod, there is of course the small matter of Microsoft’s hardware spec reveal of their long awaited and eagerly anticipated Project Scorpio system.
With no games to speak of, this unveiling has concentrated purely on the specifications of the new system. In an unorthodox move by Team Xbox, the reveal was made via games media outlet Digital Foundry rather than Microsoft themselves. A fantastic scoop for the good guys over at Eurogamer and Digital Foundry and a move that indicates, surely, just how confident Microsoft is in their new shiny technology.
That confidence does not seem to have been misplaced as the reports that Richard Leadbetter and his team over at Digital Foundry are optimistic to say the least and seem to vindicate Xbox’s claims that this new machine will hit that dream of not only 4K resolutions but also giving us that beauty at 60fps.
Digging deeper it looks like the guys at Redmond have also baked in improvements to the 1080p community into the Scorpio with what looks like automatic improvements to many legacy games due to the architecture in this new console.
Obviously, the Xbox guys don’t want to alienate all their loyal Xbox One owners and so there has been much use of the word ‘premium’ (read expensive) around this new console and also there has been much made of assuring Xbox One owners that the Scorpio will not be a break off point that leaves them behind. There is a commitment to existing Xbox owners that there will be no Scorpio exclusives – ‘No One Get’s Left Behind’.
This is reassuring and sounds great, it helps soothe the players who feel that it’s too early for a new console in light of previous generations lasting 7 years or so who may otherwise feel rather short changed at this mid-gen update. But could a commitment to keeping those ties to Xbox One, to ensuring that all games will work on the soon to be legacy machine, be counterproductive? Perhaps not now at launch but in the future and will the Xbox One eventually become an albatross holding the new monster that is Scorpio back, keeping it from its true destiny of Scorpio only exclusives?
Obviously, there’s a concern there and a knee jerk reaction would indicate exactly this scenario lurking in Scorpio’s future. An alternative view though would be that we live in a gaming age where the consoles we have already allow for such amazing games that there would be no reason that a game could not run on one of the current consoles. Take Grand Theft Auto V for instance, an absolute behemoth of a title encompassing a wide breadth of gaming systems across a vast open world and using several different gameplay mechanics and all this on the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Since then the game has been refined and improved as it has hit the PC and the next generation of consoles but the game itself is fantastic on the older consoles too. This seems a reasonable argument that any game that comes to the Scorpio will be able to be ported over to the Xbox One, it will just not have those extra bells and whistles in comparison to its new big brother. A move even closer to the world of the PC where, for example you can gain entry to a title using the minimum spec graphics card but you are aware that this will be the same game but a pared back experience in comparison to the Titan X owner.
So, rather than holding Scorpio back, we could see more titles for Xbox One and more innovation on the legacy platform as developers move forward and focus on the Scorpio. In a recent Q&A with Gamasutra, Phil Spencer mentions that it is actually an easier task to tweak a game downward rather than upward – this being the reason that the Scorpio dev-kits have double the memory in them than the consumer Scorpio. This idea could then not only leave the Scorpio unfettered in future games aimed at it, but also benefit Xbox One players with a gaming experience that may perhaps have not been considered for their system in this new dawn of the Scorpio.