Microsoft boldly announced the Project Scorpio during its E3 conference this year and has the gaming community on their feet to see how this beast of a console will turn out. Confirmed for release in the fall, it will operate at about six teraflops with 8 cores, memory bandwidth of over 320 Gbps and a speculated 12GB of GDDR5 memory. As a result, it is expected to be capable enough to play both 4K-native games and VR titles. Moreover, it will be backwards compatible, meaning you don’t have worry about your old library once you make the switch.
But there seems to be a bigger, more ambitious approach at work. In an interview with The Verge, Phil Spencer, the Head of the Xbox division at Microsoft said, “One of the most significant initiatives doesn’t revolve around a single console, it touches all of them. For decades console gamers have been faced with a persistent problem: when you finally upgrade to a new device, you’re essentially starting over from scratch, building up a new library of games. I can still play my dusty old copy of the first Diablo on my new PC, but apart from a few platforms that offer backwards compatibility, console games live in one console generation. Microsoft has slowly been adding Xbox 360-game support to the Xbox One, but now it plans to radically expand that initiative. Moving forward, Microsoft wants to bring the PC approach to consoles, treating all Xbox One games the same: they’ll all work no matter which iteration of the hardware you own. The next Halo will look better if you have Project Scorpio and a new 4K television to take advantage of all its capabilities, but it will still work on your current machine. ‘The idea is that wherever we are from the 360 generation on, we’re investing in Xbox Live and content so that as you upgrade the experience moves with you.'”
The feature in concern is none other than the Xbox Play Anywhere capability, which allows to own and play the latest Microsoft titles both on the Xbox One and your Windows 10 PC. When you purchase a digital copy on the Xbox One, you can link it to you PC and vice versa. Hence, no matter what platform you choose to play on, your achievements and progress go along with you. All major titles being released by Microsoft (like Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Recore etc.) will have this feature.
This merging of the two platforms will surely give players some freedom from the exclusivity that has existed in the past, reducing the restrictions they might face while choosing between the two. Forza made its debut on the PC with the free-to-play Forza Motorsport 6: Apex, and now we will see Forza Horizon 3 make its way to same as well. We witnessed a similar trend with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and now Gears of War 4.
Only time will tell how this strategy works out for Microsoft as well as the consumers. If all goes as planned, Sony will be facing competition from combined forces and things are expected to take an interesting turn. Another thing that will become clear is how this affects distribution of physical copies of the games. And last but not the least, how will this paradigm shift affect the lifecycle of the Xbox. If Microsoft plan to make visually gratifying games, they will certainly have to take of the hardware as well. While console gaming has been convenient and and provides a lot of studio exclusive content, once these lines are blurred, will the Xbox end up becoming a device that needs to be upgraded every couple of years, or will it have the corresponding changes in the technology as well, to make sure that it does not end up in the shadows of PC gaming?
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