Cliff Bleszinski On Xbox One Scorpio: Microsoft Are Trying To Emulate The Smartphone Model
“To me, it seems like the Xbox One Scorpio is trying to make up for past wrongs.”
Next year, Microsoft will be launching the Xbox One Scorpio, an iteration of the existing Xbox One hardware that seems to be tailor made in response to all the numerous criticisms that Microsoft have endured for the Xbox One over the last three years.
Unlike the Xbox One, the Scorpio will not be some misguided attempt at redefining UI, or being a living room media box. Unlike the Xbox One, the Scorpio will not be underpowered, overshadowed by its competition. Unlike the Xbox One, the Scorpio won’t break compatibility with its predecessor. Instead, the Scorpio will be a gamer focused machine through and through, with 6TFLOPs of power that will make it the most powerful console ever released, and far beyond its competition. The Xbox One Scorpio will also maintain full compatibility with the Xbox One and Xbox One S, including with the Xbox 360 games that have gradually been made compatible with Xbox One hardware over the last year.
However, veteran industry developer Cliff Bleszinski, who has created multiple hits over the years, including Gears of War for Microsoft on the Xbox 360, doesn’t exactly sound fully enthralled with Microsoft’s strategy for Xbox going forward. In an interview with German outlet PC Games Hardware, Bleszinski sounded off on Microsoft’s plans for Xbox going forward.
“To me, it seems like the Xbox One Scorpio is trying to make up for past wrongs,” Bleszinski said. “With the Xbox One, Microsoft made many big mistakes… they were completely on the wrong track with the two central concepts for the console, always online and Kinect, and they also had the misfortune of being caught in the middle of the NSA scandal because of the Kinect.”
Bleszinski went on to explain that the Kinect is actually good technology, sophisticated and really expensive- but it never felt like it amounted to anything much for the games, outside of casual fitness and dance games. But even this was a mistake.
“The Xbox One was no Wii,” he said. “Unlike the Wii, it was really expensive at launch… 500 bucks doesn’t exactly appeal to the casual, virtual gym toting crowd.” As a result of the Kinect, Microsoft were caught between a rock and a hard place- the Kinect pushed up the price so that the console would only appeal to core gamers, but core gamers weren’t interested in what the Kinect had to offer- and because the Kinect was already so expensive, it placed constraints on how much technology Microsoft could put into the console box itself, leading to weaker but expensive hardware, with no appeal to either mainstream casuals, or core gamers.
The result? Sony displaced Microsoft with PlayStation. “The Xbox 360 was an excellent console for shooters, for a long time, most games ran better on it. But this time around, the PS4 is simply better than the Xbox One, native 1080p and 60fps make all the difference,” he said.
Returning to the Scorpio, and to Microsoft’s future hardware strategy, Bleszinski noted that Microsoft risked confusing the average customer. “My ex-colleagues must make sure they don’t confuse the average buyer,” he noted, “Who will ask themselves, ‘Why do I have to buy a Scorpio this year when I just purchased an Xbox One S last year?’
“Now, I understand Microsoft’s idea behind the strategy, they are trying to emulate the smartphone model, Apple makes so much money with their ‘S’ models, that cost less money to manufacture, off uninformed customers. But smartphones are subsidized by carriers- the question is, will there be any such deals for the Scorpio?”
To Microsoft’s credit, they have intimated that they plan to have trade in promotions for the Xbox One Scorpio once it launches next year- but Bleszinski’s other points definitely stand. By releasing so much hardware in such a short period of time, Microsoft run the very real risk of confusing and alienating the customer- this kind of strategy does work in the handheld market (indeed, Nintendo has made an artform out of it, especially with the 3DS), but in the console market, it has never worked. Just ask Sega how the Sega-CD and 32X worked out for them.
The Xbox One Scorpio is due out by Holiday 2017.