So, according to Digital Foundry the Xbox Project Scorpio is a far more powerful machine than the Xbox One!
As well as that; Microsoft are operating on a per-game basis to ensure backwards compatibility with the One and 360. And while the specs are undeniably impressive, I can’t help but feel that the targeting of raw power is a real mistake.
Over the past year I’ve not really seen very many “power is the biggest problem with the Xbox One” articles; nor have I read many “I cannot wait until I can play my games to their full potential” articles either. And this got me thinking, surely Microsoft have done some market research and came to the conclusion that it was the power difference that made the PS4 the more popular console – but if this was true, surely we’d see more Tim ‘The Tool man’ Taylors out there lauding them for finally listening to them.
Have Microsoft pinned the tail on the wrong donkey?
Is power really the missing piece of the Xbox One puzzle?
I’m far from convinced.
The first concern I have is that I cannot see third-party developers making games that will take advantage of the power differential available here. History shows that developers make a game with the most popular console in mind (the lead console) and then port directly from that to the others – this is why the PS3 got some god awful ports and why the OG Xbox hosted more than its fair share of them too! Microsoft knows this and so the question is;
Do they really expect them to develop specifically with Scorpio in mind?
I don’t think they do at all. This is marketing speak to sell their new product and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! As long as you’re aware that the marquee titles for this console are still going to be Forza, Halo and Gears – and that the first-party titles will look amazing!
My second concern stems from the PS4 PRO launch last year; while Sony took (arguably) a more sensible route with their iteration than Microsoft, they have still found some teething problems with game implementation. Some games ran worse on the PRO than they did on the regular console while most games already released where never patched for PRO enhancements. I can’t see Microsoft somehow convincing third-parties on this issue when Sony couldn’t do it, especially given the market share of these two companies.
For me the biggest issue with the Xbox One is the sheer lack of quality exclusive titles – for far too long Microsoft have relied on the triumvirate of Halo, Gears of War and Forza. While these were enough on the Xbox 360 which had every timed exclusive deal under the sun as well as indie developers falling over each other to launch their game on Xbox Live – that is no longer the case. Gone are the days when people associated Call of Duty, FIFA and Battlefield with Xbox. No longer do people laugh at the mediocre multi platform versions that appeared on PlayStation. Now we have the PlayStation as the market leader, people are playing more games on PlayStation and much more developers want PlayStation to lead their marketing charge. This all combines into a situation that means, more often than not the PS4 gets the superior version of multiplatform games.
Sony are so far ahead of Microsoft it is frightening! I’m not just talking about hardware sales (although it is a contributor) but I mean in every respect as a console game manufacturer. Sony has many more in-house; first-party and second-party developers that create a wider portfolio of exclusive titles for the PlayStation 4 than Microsoft have for the Xbox One. Sony are also far more open to ideas and much more willing to give their development teams time to create their games. You only have to look at Media Molecule who proved themselves capable of creating a system seller with ‘Little Big Planet’ but who have yet to debut on the PS4 (4 years into its life) or Team ICO who took 10 years to make ‘The Last Guardian’, a niche title with no mass market appeal.
While it could be argued that Sony have made many more missteps than Microsoft with their exclusive titles; I think that’s a result of Sony being willing to take bigger risks in their attempts to create a larger, more diverse portfolio of games.
If we consider the third-party console exclusives as well; 2016 and (2017 so far) only highlights how big this quality gap is! Here’s a table to illustrate the issue for Microsoft;
Microsoft has undoubtedly conceded the last two years to Sony in terms of volume, regularity and overall quality of exclusives; which is frankly inexcusable! The fact that the PS4 has had FIVE critically acclaimed exclusives, while MS have only one moderately acclaimed one reeks of giving up.
If Microsoft is serious about power being the true Achilles heel of the Xbox brand then they are delusional – it is not an issue of power, but one of games. More quality games on PS4 means gamers will migrate to that platform. Microsoft know this and I hope, beyond all hope, that they have a massive E3 ahead of them – they need games and they need to go far beyond the tried and tested franchises.
Getting ‘Cuphead’ to market needs to happen this year (yet this is not a Scorpio-selling title), Crackdown NEEDS to be ready for launch, Ryse needs a sequel although with the issues facing Crytek that is not happening and there needs to be NEW franchises or NEW standalone titles.
I’m not going to call it a crisis because for all the number throwing the Xbox One has been successful; but it’s being hammered by the PlayStation 4!
If Microsoft don’t start delivering games, it could be game over for the Xbox Scorpio before it’s even begun!
Do you think raw power can save the Xbox One?
What games would you like to see on the Scorpio?
Are you buying one?
Tell me in the comments/facebook/twitter!