Microsoft has officially confirmed their new Xbox Scorpio model – basically it’s a pimped up Xbox One with more processing power, 4K output, a bigger price tag, blah blah blah.
Before I go on I’ll lay my cards on the table. I’ve owned more Nintendo and Sony consoles than I have Microsoft. I’m not their biggest fan. But that isn’t why I think the new Xbox Scorpio is daft. I don’t think the PS4 Pro was any better a concept, just to be clear. But whilst that was arguably trying to fix a problem that wasn’t there, with Scorpio there is a problem and this isn’t the solution.
I’m not about to make any absurd claims that the Xbox One is a commercial disaster – clearly it’s not (unless you live in Japan). But it’s got an identity problem. Although the Switch has only just been released, Nintendo has nailed the concept and with their reliable line-up of exclusives, is able to cater to its fanbase. The PS4 is the market leader and generally the go-to format for multi-platform games. Furthermore it’s built up a steady catalogue of exclusive titles such as Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank, The Last Of Us and the forthcoming Crash Bandicoot remaster.
The Xbox One feels like it’s just THERE. It’s not doing anything different from Nintendo or Sony in terms of function or software. Where are the games that make people go: “hell yeah, that’s Microsoft and I want an Xbox One to play that”. Souped up consoles will sell to some, but the majority of people care predominantly about the games or the experience – the Wii is testament enough to that.
I’m old enough to remember the folly of the Sega CD and 32X. Console upgrades that were expensive, packed a bit more under the hood but collapsed without the software to lure consumers to them in massive numbers. Microsoft’s problem with the Xbox One is identity, not power. They need interesting, unique and tantalising games before even thinking about anything else. And right now, they don’t.
The Scorpio isn’t going to replace the Xbox One so at least Microsoft aren’t putting all their eggs in one basket like Sega did. But inherently it’s just a more expensive version of a console that people already aren’t buying in the numbers that they are the PS4.
So Microsoft, I’m going to give you some advice: you can make the most powerful car in the world. But if you don’t bother filling it up with petrol, it won’t go any faster than my little Ford KA.