Developer: XBox Scorpio Is A ‘Full Blown Next-Gen Machine,’ Unlike PS4 Pro – Forbes

image: Microsoft

image: Microsoft

We’ve already got the PS4 Pro, but next holiday season Microsoft is getting ready with a mid-generation shift of its own: Project Scorpio. Details are scant, but the general thrust is that this is a super-powerful Xbox machine, capable of native rendering in 4K and playing nice with VR. Like the PS4 Pro, it will have an identical game library to the base console, just with souped up graphics on many titles. It’s a new console generation, it’s not a new console generation, it’s hard to tell. Still, one developer is singing its praises over at NeoGAF. Here’s what Xbox exclusive Ori and the Bind Forest developer Thomas Mahler has to say:

“Scorpio isn’t just a half-assed upgrade (which the PS4 Pro kinda is…), but a full blown next-gen machine that’s just backwards-compatible to your current library.”

It’s a little more forceful than we might expect from the silver-tonged Phil Spencer, but it seems to cooperate with the hints of the marketing we’ve seen from Xbox so far. This is a major upgrade, we’ve heard, and it’s worth the extra cash.

It raises an interesting question: just what qualifies a machine as “next-gen?” Is there some degree to which it must improve on the computing power of its predecessors? If I had to think about the term as it has applied to consoles of the past, I’d use a more practical definition around the concept of a “generational divide.” Console generations are called that because of how starkly divided they are: the big difference is that a “next-gen” console will play games that the previous generation cannot, and possibly not play games that the previous generation could.

Xbox Scorpio may well fit that first definition, but Microsoft has been adamant that it will not fit the second definition. And that’s going to make any attempt to position as a true next-generation difficult. People buy new machines to play new games, for the most part, and it’s going to be a tougher sell without that incentive. As with the PS4 Pro, we’ll never see the sort of massive launch numbers that come with a starkly divided console generation, but that’s alright. Over the long-term people could still wind up gravitating to the beefier machines.

Finally, the fact that the libraries will be identical means that we won’t see any of the best things a new generation can provide: bigger, more elaborate environments, more advanced AI, 10X the numbers of zombies on screen, etc. The main benefit, it would seem, will be upgrading the resolution to 4K, and I’ve been pretty adamant that this is basically the most boring thing a super powerful new machine can do. Not only does it not add any gameplay functionality, it adds nothing for those without a 4K TV, and arguably nothing for those who sit a reasonable distance away from a 4K TV.

We’ll see, though. It’s still possible that Scorpio has some tricks up its sleeve to truly distinguish itself from what came before. Stay tuned.

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