‘Customers are used to shorter product cycles.’
The Xbox One Scorpio is a technical marvel, yes- we’ve covered that exhaustively today. But more than that, it also represents a brand new paradigm for the gaming industry. And in leading the charge to a future without generations, Microsoft says it took cues from other consumer electronics industries, such as smartphones and TVs.
“I think externally, as you look at the industry… consumers, they’ve just changed a lot,” Mike Ybarra, corporate vice president of the Xbox and Windows gaming platform at Microsoft, said to Eurogamer. “When you think about phones, for example, consumers are buying phones more frequently than we’ve ever seen. Their expectation of technology is they no longer need to wait for it, it’s immediately there in front of them and they expect all of their content to flow across those devices, too.
“And so when you see people buy phones, their apps just download and they just keep going and it works seamlessly for them. Same with 4K TVs. 4K TVs are one of the biggest holiday items this past year. People are expecting this new technology faster than I’ve ever seen and when you think about the console business, that’s kind of in conflict to that, because it’s like here’s a console and for the next five to seven years, you’re on that physical box. And yeah the games get a little better because developers get faster and they optimize it and things start looking a little better, but really you’re fixed in that box.”
According to Ybarra, this change came about as Microsoft contemplated changing the traditional console cycle, coming to the realization that customers are far more willing now to spend money on newer tech with quicker turnaround periods.
“When we see consumers tell us they want ‘the latest technology, the latest experience, the best experience more frequently’ to our traditional console business that doesn’t really align with that, you have to pause, you have to take some pretty big risks,” Ybarra said. “What does it mean to introduce a console within the generation that provides enough difference that makes consumers appreciate and want that device? That’s the big thing we’re doing here. We’re taking that big risk to release something we know consumers want. And adopting that business model, that’s where the risk comes in – it’s in the business model of saying let’s change things up and let’s give consumers what they want, sooner.”
In the end, rolling, iterative hardware upgrades may be the wave of the future– and a thoroughly exciting product like the Xbox One Scorpio may be just what is necessary to push us towards that happening.