As expected, Microsoft have announced their next generation console currently known as project Scarlett. This new hardware boasts some impressive specifications including a new processor that has 4 times the power of the Xbox One X. With this comes a 40x increase in performance that will deliver 120 frames per second, 8K resolution and hardware-accelerated ray tracing. Thankfully, it has been confirmed that the machine will come with a disc tray. Microsoft has promised that it will be backwards compatible with every previous generation which immediately gives it a catalogue of 1000s of games. It will launch with Halo: Infinite which will presumably make full use of its power.
By the time Scarlett releases in late 2020, the Xbox One will have existed for 7 years & the Xbox One X will be 3 years old. Therefore, it’s certainly reasonable for Microsoft to announce a next generation system. However, as someone who less than two years ago paid nearly £500 for an X I can’t help but feel disinterested in this announcement.
I bought an Xbox One X with the hopes that Microsoft would publish video games that would take full advantage of everything it was capable of. To date, very few if any games have done so. Yes, a large catalogue of games have been given the “enhanced” treatment. In most cases, this means that a game will display visuals at 4K resolution. Some will have HDR but I’d say at least half do not. How about frame rates? Well, as of this moment I believe around 60ish games are capable of hitting 60FPS on Xbox One X. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound like too many games. Not only that but those games have been known to dip below 60FPS in certain scenarios. Basically, they struggle to maintain the framerate.
99% of video games run at 30 FPS. We have not gotten anywhere close to the point that the majority will run at 60. The Xbox One X can handle the power but the games just aren’t there. In less than 2 years, Microsoft will be releasing a console that they say is capable of running games at 120 FPS. What games are going to be able to do that exactly? Answer, probably 0.
Now, let’s talk about 8K. The average consumer has only just started to consider adopting 4K. Those TV’s are only now becoming affordable. TV’s that can display 8K resolution do exist but they don’t come cheap. Saying you’ll need to put aside at minimum £5000 isn’t reasonable. Let’s say you buy the Scarlett and you can afford the TV as well, lucky you. What games will you being playing on it that will meet those lofty specifications? I think we all know the answer. Much like the X, it’s on Microsoft themselves to ensure that there are games developed for the system. Unfortunately, we all know how good they are at doing that.
There are only a few TV channels that display 4K, so it’s useless for that.
E3 certainly did little to convince me that Microsoft understand what people want. Most of the games shown were 3rd party and those that were not did little to excite. I love Indie games but that just isn’t enough. Sure, this was just the initial reveal. They will bring the big guns next year, right? I’m sure they have lots of announce but doing so too early has hurt them in the past. Still, most of the studios acquired by Microsoft were Indie studios. Will they be making games that have 8K resolution & run at 120 FPS? Unlikely.
In conclusion, I can see the Scarlett being a flop at launch. Sony know that people care more about games rather than hardware. They sat back and allowed Microsoft to show their hand and it was weak. I’m not saying I won’t ever buy the next Xbox, I know that I will. However, I’m certain that it won’t be until 8K TV’s are affordable and who knows when that will happen? Let’s not forget, the X was a premium console that cost £500. This new system is 4 times more powerful, how much will it cost?
I hope I’m wrong and Microsoft can pull it back next year. They could have some huge titles in the works and no I don’t want anything associated with Gears, Forza or Halo. At the very least, Scarlett will be a long term investment that will only hopefully pay off. How much will change in the next year and a half? Time will tell.