E3 2017 officially kicks off this week, with the usual flood of new video games. However, one of the most hotly anticipated announcements of the event took place over the weekend. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) held its press conference and officially took the wraps off “Project Scorpio” its powerful new game console. Officially called the Xbox One X, the “world’s most powerful gaming console” goes on sale starting Nov. 7, with a starting price of $499.
Project Scorpio Gets Real
MSFT’s Project Scorpio hasn’t exactly been a secret. Microsoft has been teasing it for the past year, but the gaming industry has been anxiously awaiting the moment when it was officially announced. That’s the point where the speculation ends and we finally know for certain how the company plans to fight back against Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) Playstation 4 and its latest console, the PS4 Pro.
At its E3 press conference, MSFT unveiled what it claims is the world’s most powerful game console. The Project Scorpio code name is gone and the new console will be called the Xbox One X. Price is $499 and the new Xbox will be available worldwide starting Nov. 7.
Xbox One X Key Specs
Microsoft says the Xbox One X isn’t just the world’s most powerful game console, it holds that title by a wide margin — 40% more power than any other console, including the Playstation Pro.
Here are the specifications MSFT released that support that claim.
- 8-core custom CPU @ 2.3GHz from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD)
- 12GB DDR5 RAM at 326 GB/s
- 6 Teraflop Scorpio Engine GPU
- Liquid cooling plus centrifugal fan
- 1TB hard drive
- 8GB Flash memory
- 4K UHD optical disc drive
- HDMI 2.0, HDR10
- DTS 5.1 audio, Dolby True HD with Atmos
- Bluetooth, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, IR blaster
Complete Xbox One Compatibility and Upgrades
MSFT went to great lengths to assure attendees that there will be cross-compatibility across the Xbox One lineup, including the Original Xbox One, the Xbox One S and the new Xbox One X. That means Xbox One games will play on each of these consoles. Peripherals such as game controllers are also cross-compatible.
Naturally, with the power the Xbox One X has on tap, some experiences are going to be superior, though.
Games developed for the new console will be marked as “Xbox One X Enhanced.” They will take full advantage of the new Xbox console’s capabilities for a superior experience, including true 4K and HDR support. MSFT is also working with developers to release 4K-enhanced versions of older titles, which will also be marketed as being “Xbox One X Enhanced.” To help boost sales of the new console, Microsoft says owners of these original games will get the 4K patch for free.
XBox One X Challenges
A year ago — with the announcement of the Xbox One S — I pointed out the challenges that MSFT may face with its console strategy. Now that the Xbox One X is here, those challenges largely remain. The company officially discontinued the original Xbox One last August, so at least there are only two consoles to choose from instead of three.
However, the Xbox One S was promoted as being 40% smaller than the original, with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive, a boost in performance to support 4K video streaming and HDR. Consumers may find this confusing, compared to the Xbox One X’s support for “True 4K” gameplay. As gaming website Kotaku points out, with the similarity in names — “S” can easily be mistaken for “X” — the risk of parents picking the older console for their kids is considerable. Especially when the Xbox One X costs an additional $200.
There is also the issue of requiring a 4K TV to take full advantage of the Xbox One X’s graphics — although MSFT says it will improve even 1080p graphics. Still, for many people, the upgrade from an original Xbox One, or the choice of the Xbox One X as their first game console, will also require forking over cash for a new TV.
And there is also an added onus on game developers to have every game mastered for two consoles with very different capabilities — not to mention updating older titles to make them Xbox One Enhanced.
Finally, there was no talk of virtual reality, leaving the less-expensive PlayStation Pro as the sole gaming console with VR options. When pressed, Microsoft officials pointed to Windows PCs as being more appropriate for virtual reality than game consoles.
We’ll find out this holiday season whether MSFT made the right choice with the Xbox One X. Its new console goes on sale Nov.7 for $499, going up against the VR-supporting $399 PS4 Pro and Microsoft’s own $299 Xbox One S.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold any of the aforementioned securities.