Is This The Last Microsoft Console?

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Will Xbox One be able to beat PlayStation with a new strategy?

In a recently released statement Microsoft has said that this generation of consoles might be the last one. The company also clarified its position regarding its much-touted Project Scorpio exclusives which had caused a considerable amount of confusion.

Microsoft’s head of Xbox games marketing, Aaron Greenberg sat down for an interview with Aaron Souppouris and talked about the future of gaming along with Microsoft’s role in it. He also talked about the company’s upcoming Project Scorpio.

Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox division at Microsoft, said at an E3 event that all upcoming games and accessories would support all versions of Xbox One.

Project Scorpio was also included in the list of compatible systems. But Aaron, at the time,  was of the opinion that, the statement about compatibility simply wasn’t true.

The reason was extremely simple: Project Scorpio is expected to be a VR ready console which will support a VR headset, that will come as an accessory, and if that is indeed the case then there will definitely be VR only games.

As you can probably guess by now, VR games would only work with Project Scorpio because no other Microsoft console before it is even capable of supporting VR games.

Greenberg, on the other hand, did throw some light on the issue and told Aaron that the key argument in Spencer’s presentation was that everything that worked with Xbox One, would be likely to work on Project Scorpio instead of the case being the other way around.

Greenberg also clarified that Microsoft would not have console exclusive video games for Project Scorpio.

He further added that Microsoft was of the view that virtual reality hadn’t progressed enough to be considered as a serious pursuit for the vast majority of gamers. Hence, the company would not consider VR experience as a gaming experience.

In other words, if VR only games do get released for Project Scorpio, they would not count as gaming because of Microsoft’s stance on VR experience.

When Greenberg was asked about Spencer’s contradictory statements about exclusive games and Project Scorpio, he said that people misunderstood the difference between “older games working on newer system” and backward compatibility.

Greenberg said that Microsoft wanted to innovate something great with hardware upgrade but the company wanted to do what without the sacrifice of compatibility.

In the gaming industry, the general rule is that when a newer console system is released, the displaced “current” one automatically becomes redundant.

More simply put; all your older games lose their compatibility with the new system and that holds true for accessories as well.

According to Greenberg, that won’t happen with Xbox One and Project Scorpio. He told the reporter that if someone bought video games, along with accessories, for Xbox One, those games and accessories would be fully operational with Project Scorpio as well.

The main message from Greenberg seemed to be that gamers should rest easy knowing the fact that all of their content will be transferable to a newer console if they decide to upgrade from, let’s say, Xbox One S to Project Scorpio.

Greenberg also said that this was Microsoft’s promise and commitment regarding compatibility issue.

Of course, he did not answer the question comprehensively since he skipped the part about newer games being compatible with Xbox One. Instead, he opted to answer the question from a more “convenient” perspective and happily explained how older games would work on Project Scorpio.

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Does it really make sense for console manufacturers to release new hardware every 12 months instead of following the traditional seven-year cycle?

One would have thought that older games being supported on news system was an easy enough concept to grasp and the real confusion was about the reverse situation, but nevertheless, Greenberg skipped that part.

When Greenberg was asked about Project Scorpio being the only system that was powerful enough to support VR and hence, Microsoft couldn’t possibly make future games compatible with all its systems, Greenberg replied with a simple statement that said, “we said we’re not going to have console-exclusive games for Project Scorpio.”

Greenberg also communicated to the reporter that Microsoft wanted to build an ecosystem. That ecosystem would consist of Xbox One, Xbox One S and Project Scorping along with any other future projects.

That ecosystem would allow everyone to enjoy the latest games without having to worry about having the latest gaming system.

Greenberg then continued to explain that Project Scorpio will allow Microsoft to develop high-fidelity VR experiences for its consumer base because of the Project Scorpio’s superior processing power.

The game marketing head then reiterated that Microsoft did not consider VR experiences as within the realm of console gaming and that VR content would be like new features for Project Scorpio rather than  standalone video game experiences.

Engadget’s Nathan Ingraham recently wrote that the future of Microsoft’s Xbox looked a lot more like PC gaming than ever before.

Phil Spencer had earlier spoken about how he wanted to see a consistent stream of hardware upgradation rather than a brand-new console every year.

Spencer cited the smartphone market as an example that the gaming industry should follow.

Of course, he forgot to mention that the smartphone market model is unlikely to work in the gaming market since people, especially in the third world, don’t buy stuff after they have made the initial investment of buying a smartphone device.

In the gaming community, one has to buy games on a regular basis in order to have a standard gaming experience. And since people have to pay premium rates for games, it is hard to believe that they would find the news of “buy a new every year” very pleasing.

In fact, Greenberg went one step further and said that in his opinion this generation of consoles would be the last.

He said that Microsoft believed that Xbox One and Xbox One S would be the last time that gamers will experience a new console generation because all of the future projects from Microsoft, as far as gaming is concerned, would consist of incremental  upgrades rather than an abrupt revolution in their console lineup.

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Microsoft has had a hard time scoring one over PlayStaion 4 as the Sony console has outsold its Microsoft counterpart in terms of sale numbers on a regular basis.

When Greenberg was asked about Microsoft moving towards constant and regular updates, which added new features to the software running on its consoles, for its hardware projects as well, Greenberg said that Microsoft certainly headed in that direction.

Readers might already know that Microsoft took a very short rest period in between releasing Xbox One and Xbox One S.

You can bet that owners of Xbox One weren’t over the moon when Microsoft announced Xbox One S model, which was 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One, less than three years after it had released Xbox One.

And if that wasn’t bad enough then know that the time period between Xbox One S and Project Scorpio is expected to be even shorter.

Greenberg was of the opinion that the end of console generations was a good thing for the gaming community. He said that Microsoft wanted to build a library, or a community, which would allow the company to iterate with its hardware quickly.

He also called the current three versions, so to be four versions of the same base console, of Microsoft consoles as a “family of devices.”.

It should be pretty clear by now that all Microsoft is concerned about is its own revenue streams. Releasing new hardware every year would, of course, put more pressure on the users to buy the latest gear in order to experience the latest and the greatest games.

But this strategy could backfire in the sense that the more savvy of gamers would find cheaper and more affordable alternatives. Those alternatives include options such as PC gaming.

And it would make sense too. If one is supposed to upgrade a console every new year then why not move to PC gaming which provides better value for money when it comes to yearly upgrades.

Not to mention that PC games are generally much cheaper and with steam gaining so much momentum, gamers can take advantage of various bundle schemes and free to download games.

Greenberg says that no matter how the gaming community receives this news, the company will certainly learn a lot of lessons from the feedback.

He also spoke about the positive reaction Microsoft had received upon the announcement of Project Scorpio and how the demand, and interest, from the gaming community, would further push Microsoft to take massive steps in changing the way people think about the future of console gaming.

Aaron ended the interview with one last question that related to Xbox One closing the gap on PlayStation 4 in terms of sales and popularity.

Greenberg replied that Microsoft’s console sale figures were very healthy and that more people were active on the company’s Xbox One console this year than last year.

That would come as a surprise to many since Sony has consistently won the console war against Microsoft for the past year or so.

While Microsoft hasn’t released much information on its sale figures, Sony made the announcement of 40 million units sold months ago.

Some studies put the number of Xbox One sold at around 22 million which isn’t even half of PlayStation 4 figures.

 

Zohair
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