Xbox 2 Project Scorpio
At E3 2016, Xbox boss Phil Spencer took the stage and announced Project Scorpio, a new console that is promised to be the most powerful console ever made. Promises were made regarding 4K and VR, along with some vague specs, all of which points to one simple truth:
This new console, code named "Project Scorpio" is actually the Xbox 2 in disguise. While it’s holiday 2017 release date seems soon, join me as we examine six compelling reasons why this is indeed the next generation console from Microsoft.
5 Powerful Reasons Why Project Scorpio is Xbox 2
It is easy to look at this announcement and say, “yeah, that’s just an Xbox 1.5 to Sony’s PS4 Neo.” While I thought the same thing at first, I took a step back and looked at how the pieces fit together. This isn’t some upgraded console like the Xbox One S, this is completely entirely new.
Join me as we look at how the pieces fit together and show us that this is indeed the Xbox 2.
#1 - Phil Spencer Already Shot Down the Xbox 1.5
Our first piece of evidence takes us back to April of 2016, a few months before E3 2016. This was right in the heat of the recently revealed PS4.5/Neo rumors following GDC 2016. Gamers were putting the screws to Microsoft, anxious to see how they would react to this sudden change in the usual cycle of consoles.
After the Microsoft Build keynote, the ultimate question was thrown out for him to answer publicly. Would Microsoft respond to the PS4 Neo with an Xbox 1.5? This is what he had to say:
"I’m not a big fan of Xbox One and a half. If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers. For us, our box is doing well. It performs, it’s reliable, the servers are doing well. If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people--an upgrade."
In addition, Phil went on to elaborate that he wanted the console to be capable of constant hardware innovation, similar to the way a PC can be taken apart an upgraded. More on that soon, but the point of this first reason is simply this:
Microsoft doesn't want a mere upgrade, they want a brand new console that will dominate. I think Project Scorpio fits that bill, but let’s keep going.
#2 - Console Cycles as We Know Them are Dead
Phil Spencer made some bold comments during the Xbox Spring Showcase in March of 2016. It was here that he described a future of Hardware innovation in which new hardware would be released during a generation, similar to how we see upgrades in smart phones.
During this showcase he said:
"We see on other platforms whether it be mobile or PC that you get a continuous innovation that you rarely see on console."
He described a future where we will see new hardware come out that runs backwards and forwards with other games and accessories. Sound familiar? Project Scorpio was announced as part of the “Xbox Family” in which it would work with Xbox One games and accessories.
This is all part of Microsoft’s rumored plan for the future known as Project Helix. This project consists of Microsoft’s plan to merge Windows 10 and Xbox into a unified platform.
We saw the first steps of this at E3 2016 when Phil Spencer announced Microsoft’s “Play Anywhere” program. This program allows you to purchase and play specifically marked games on both your Xbox One and your Windows 10 PC.
Buy it once, own it on both platforms. It’s a bold move, especially given the fact that you can transfer your saved data and achievements between the platforms and never lose any progress when you switch.
Project Scorpio is the first in Microsoft’s new plan to integrate hardware upgrades without alienating owners of the older systems. With this announcement, they have essentially shattered the walls between generations.
If every console upgrade is part of a new platform, then they are all part of this metaphorical “Xbox Family” which allows you to carry your games forward as you upgrade. Need more proof? Here’s another quote from the Xbox Spring Showcase, well before E3 2016:
"We can effectively feel a little more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me. Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don’t have to jump a generation and lose everything I played before."
Phil Spencer was laying the seeds for Project Scorpio (Xbox 2) months before the initial announcement! This represents the future he outlined, one where cycles are no longer relevant and everything moves forward with you when you upgrade to the new console.
In this brave new world, Project Scorpio is the closest we’ll see to a traditional “next-generation” console. It’s the evolved form of the concept. It is the Xbox 2.
#3 - The Specs are Way Higher than Xbox One
We usually look at a console’s specs as the indication that it is indeed the generational leap forward that would define a new cycle. Things are different now, but the same logic can still be applied to an extent.
It’s looking more and more like console cycles will be a thing of the past, but for all of us that have grown up with this concept, it’s important to outline the hardware upgrade between the known specs of Project Scorpio and the current specs of the Xbox One.
Here’s the breakdown of the Xbox One vs Project Scorpio’s potential specs:
- Xbox One has eight Jaguar Cores clocked at 1.75GHz vs Eight cores in Project Scorpio most likely up-clocked.
- 12 GCN compute GPU units in Xbox One at 853MHz vs possible 56-60 GCN compute units in Project Scorpio at 800-850MHz
- 8GB DDR3 RAM in Xbox One with 68GB/s bandwidth vs 320GB/s RAM in Project Scorpio and potentially up to 12GB of GDDR5.
The Project Scorpio reveal also mentioned six TFLOPs of power in the GPU, which is not only way higher than Xbox One, but also higher than the rumored power of the PS4 Neo. This kind of leap in power, and promises of 4K and VR show that the new console is going to be a massive upgrade from the current generation.
In a final point here, Microsoft is already doing an Xbox One S, so that fills the potential “slim” or Xbox 1.5 slot if there needs to be one. This is a big and bold step forward.
#4 - VR and 4K Define Xbox 2
While Sony has managed to unveil the PlayStation VR for their console, Xbox One was never equipped to handle something like that. Even more evidence in apparent in the fact that the console has not, nor will it ever support 4K.
Both of these technologies represent cutting-edge developments in the world of hardware and gaming. When Xbox One was released, we we’re still firmly in the realm of 1080p gaming. Only the highest-end PCs were capable of running 4K, and the adoption rate was still very small.
While 1080p hasn’t gone extinct, by the time Project Scorpio comes out in holiday 2017, it’s very possible that 4K will be far more cemented in the mainstream view. In addition, this will be a year into mainstream VR technology, which makes the new system ripe for these additions.
I think it’s fair to say that VR and 4K are innovations that define a generational leap forward in terms of marketing. VR alone is a huge addition to the realm of gaming, and 4K represents the first leap forward in visual fidelity since the dawn of HD.
Support for these technologies isn’t something we can expect from Xbox One, or even an Xbox 1.5. No, this is something that has to come from a new console. One with massive amounts of power and a name to represent it. That name, my friends, is Xbox 2.
#5 - It’s all in the Name
Our final point is a simple one, but I think by now we’ve made a strong case. The name “Project Scorpio,” while cool, is a code name. It’s never going to be the final title of the system. Keep in mind that before it was known as PlayStation VR, they called it “Project Morpheus.”
Before the Kinect received it’s final title, they announced it as “Project Natal.” Everything starts with a placeholder, which means that the final title of Project Scorpio has yet to reveal itself.
Will that name be Xbox 2? Perhaps, but if one thing is certain, its final title will indeed reflect its true nature.
Are you Ready?
The future is standing before us my friends. Project Scorpio is the first concrete step forward into Microsoft’s Project Helix. This is the way of the future, this is the evolution of gaming. This, my friends, is the Xbox 2.
What do you think? Is this the leap forward that signals a new future for gaming? Let us know in the comments!
Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are the opinions of the author (Bradley Ramsey) and do not yet represent facts or the opinions of Microsoft. Although it will probably be accurate, for now it is pure speculation. Thanks for reading!