Announced at its E3 media briefing on Monday, Microsoft’s sort-of/kind-of next-gen console, the Xbox Scorpio, isn’t for you unless you have or plan to purchase by holiday 2017 a 4K television, according to Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer. Confusingly, however, he also said the console is actually for anyone who wants to enjoy any of the graphical advancements developers choose to work into their Scorpio games thanks to the unit’s six teraflops of GPU power.
Speaking with Eurogamer, Spencer said that if you have a TV that’s only capable of 1080p or lower resolutions, then you should invest in the forthcoming Xbox One S rather than the Xbox One Scorpio, “because Scorpio is not going to do anything for you. Scorpio is designed as a 4K console, and if you don’t have a 4K TV, the benefit we’ve designed for, you’re not going to see. Clearly, you can buy Scorpio, and if and when you decide you want to buy a 4K television to take advantage of the increased performance, obviously the console will be ready for you.”
Continuing, Spencer admitted that pure power isn’t always what wins the hardware sales competitions, citing the extremely underpowered Wii’s sales dominance over the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the last generation. He added that having the forthcoming Xbox One S on the market at $299 with 4K video playback is a crucial part of Microsoft’s Xbox strategy.
“So, Scorpio is for the person who’s got a 4K television, who’s really focused on 4K gaming,” he reiterated. “It’s going to be a premium price over what we’re selling this one for, and both of them will exist in the market at the same time. Scorpio is for your 4K gamer. And that’s what we designed it for.”
Appearing in a video interview (below) with Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb, however, Spencer seemed to indicated the opposite. After stating that Scorpio’s six teraflops of GPU power are going to make it “a great gaming machine for true 4K gaming,” Spencer opened the door up to all that power offering other potential benefits. “Or, if developers want to use those six teraflops in other ways they’re free to do that.”
Speaking with Giant Bomb yesterday, Spencer tried to clarify things. The Xbox executive said that after talking with developers Microsoft “made some slight changes in terms of memory bandwidth and stuff to make sure that we were also a great platform for high-fidelity VR experiences that a console player would expect.”
That seems to pretty clearly lay out another potential advantage Scorpio owners would get over standard Xbox One or Xbox One S owners even if they don’t have a 4K TV. Continuing, however, Spencer again said that Scorpio was made for 4K TV. But “Scorpio is more powerful than the original Xbox [One] — four and a half times,” he noted. Therefore, Spencer said, the way upcoming games will play will be affected by all that extra power.
Unfortunately, the subject then changed to whether or not previously released games would see any benefit. Spencer said that some — but not all — existing games will run a bit better, offering improved framerate as one potentially improved area. Still, Spencer seemingly concluded that “the complete Scorpio experience” involves plugging the console into a 4K TV. Only that wasn’t the conclusion at all — he then once again returned to the fact that some developers will take advantage of the six teraflops of graphical processing power in ways other than 4K resolution support, even though that was the main impetus for Scorpio.