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Project Scorpio: What does it need to do to Succeed?

The Xbox One had a rocky start, there’s no question. Starting with a disastrous reveal centering around entertainment, Madden, Call of Duty, and DRM restrictions, Xbox had an uphill climb since before the console even came out. Despite this, the Xbox One has been able to turn around the ship and it is definitely heading in the right direction. The Xbox One today is a completely different system (not mechanically) today than when it started. The dashboard is much easier to navigate, the OS much faster, the graphical imbalance between Xbox One and PS4 is basically nil since giving the Xbox One more RAM + Cores to use for gaming… basically it made up all of the ground it could. The problem  is in the minds of most consumers’, they still don’t know about this. Having worked as Best Buy for a year, most people coming up to grab a console still asked if the Xbox One played games like Far Cry, and if it was still DRM. Likewise, most employees at Best Buy didn’t care to tell consumers the difference either – simply stating that the PS4 has the best and the most games, and that the Xbox One is still a mess. It’s future looks bleak as well, the Xbox One is in serious trouble when comparing it to its competitors. Read this posts companion post, Xbox One is in Serious Trouble to get a clearer picture of this. 

Xbox One has come a long way – but the game was rigged from the start.

So, understanding that the Xbox One is selling great despite this, but will not catch up to the PS4 (it will likely sell around 45-50 million units in its lifetime, compared to the 80 million Xbox 360’s and 55+ million current PS4’s in the wild), what does Project Scorpio need to do to succeed?

A primary, unrelenting focus on games.

This should be a given, and it’s something that Xbox has done over the past two years. They just need to kick it up a notch. New IP’s, 2nd party studio developments, and the return of core franchises need to highlight the launch of Scorpio. Show Gears of War 4 running in 4k, show Halo 5: Guardians running in 4k and tease Halo 6. Show insane Crackdown 3 footage of the city collapsing with the power of Scorpio. Show the return of Fable with a proper Fable 4 announcement (with Lionhead gone, also a good opportunity to showcase a new developer). The conference shouldn’t have anything else in it except for games.

A reasonable price point to start.

This is equally important to the first point – Scorpio needs to be accessible for consumers. Considering the PS4 Pro runs $499.99 in Canada, the Scorpio can’t be more expensive than that. Microsoft has a ton of money, and they can afford to eat it on the console sales to gain market share. If it’s any more expensive than that, people will be swayed into getting a PS4 Pro. Unless…

A strong, simple, consistent message across the board.

The Xbox One’s biggest issue wasn’t even its features announced at start. Gamers are already used to DRM with Steam and Origin on PC, after all. The issue lied in its messaging and marketing. The consumer saw the Xbox One as a TV companion system that played games, where the PS4 was a gaming console with TV companion features. The difference? Call it 25 million Xbox One’s to 55 million PS4’s.

Do you call it a half-step in a generation like the PS4 Pro did (and had mixed reactions to?), or do you call it the next generation Xbox? I think if Microsoft can market this machine as the next console generation it won’t matter if it’s more expensive than the PS4 Pro. The consumer and people will understand that it’s more because it’s brand new, not just an upgrade. The most powerful console ever built, with the best exclusive games and most sophisticated gaming network ever created. This is the Xbox, here are our games you can’t play anywhere else.  People could get behind that.

Power that dwarfs all other console competition

Project Scorpio has already proclaimed it’s the most powerful console ever built – Xbox needs to put it’s money where it’s mouth is. I’m not talking 5% better, 10% better than the PS4 Pro… it needs to be a significant, cannot miss, easy to distinguish, drastic difference in power and performance. Not only that, the power that they have needs to do something that could not be done in this generation. More grass blades per square inch will not cut it. I don’t know exactly what that is, but the power needs to blow me away.

A killer app

Something that the Xbox One is currently missing is a killer app. Surely, the Switch will have two clear killer apps in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. The PS4 will have many killer apps in Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last of Us: Part II, the new God of War, and possibly games like Death Stranding and Detroit: Beyond Human. What will Scorpio have? We can expect the usual’s, like a new Forza Motorsport game, Halo 6 coming out in 2018, Gears of War 5 in 2019, as well as games like Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2 – but with Halo 5 not really moving the dial and Gears of War 4 already out, Scorpio needs something big at launch that says “wow, this is incredible and I can’t get this anywhere else. I need a Scorpio.” Crackdown 3 has that potential, but I think that Xbox needs something else. Something new, or something absolutely insane like Halo 6 coming out this fall.

Tony (XBL: Mk Anthony)

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