The views contained in this article are that of the author and should not be taken as the opinion of Geek Node as a publication.
Microsoft’s E3 conference seemed pretty innocuous for the first hour with their predictable line-up of titles, but it was definitely clear that they were going in a new direction with their Xbox Anywhere initiative. All of their exclusive titles will be available on both Windows 10 and Xbox One, promoting an environment where everyone is included. Cross-play will also feature heavily, making the barriers between players even less. I’m totally for this initiative. We like to bicker and moan about platforms, fanboys and whatever, but if we can all play together on whatever we have, that breeds a more tightly knit community.
However, at the end, Microsft unveiled Project Scorpio, their “monstrous” console capable of insane levels of performance promising 4K, VR support and so on. This wasn’t much of a surprise since a bunch of leaks earlier in the year already gave us a heads-up that the console exists. Its sole purpose is to deliver better performance unlike anything we’ve seen in a console, capable of high framerates and unparalleled visual fidelity. That was, however, all we got with no price given or the actual console shown off.
At first I was angry at the idea of Project Scorpio. I bought an Xbox One earlier this year and now I’m told that my new console will be much less powerful than the newer version. While it was a natural progression and one that I still believe was inevitable, Scorpio felt like a betrayal. I don’t have the money to buy another console and if I do, what will I do with my old one? Pawn it off for less than half of what I paid for it? If I look at my situation realistically, I probably won’t be able to get this new console whatsoever and I’ll be stuck as a glorified legacy customer because I bought a console that is a few years into its life cycle.
But then I also realised something more important. Why would I buy a Scorpio if I can just use that money to buy a PC instead? There is literally zero reason for me to buy a Scorpio that I can think of. Let’s look at the facts here:
We have no idea what the price point will be on the Scorpio, but it can’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that it will be expensive. Maybe Microsoft surprises me and make it $500 or cheaper, but something inside me doubts that. For that kind of money, I can easily just build a PC. It doesn’t even have to be a top of the line PC, but one using components that are a few years old that can compare comfortably with the Scorpio. I can even leverage further by buying something secondhand or keeping my eyes out for big deals on PC hardware. If it’s at the lower price point, I might have to spend slightly more, but that doesn’t really matter since a PC is far superior than a console, as we all know in our hearts.
What will I miss out on if I decide to buy a PC? Well, thanks to Microsoft’s Xbox Anywhere program, absolutely nothing. As long as I have Windows 10 on my PC, and let’s face it I will, I won’t miss out on any exclusives at all. And what is the further added benefit of a PC? I can use Steam that gives me access to a plethora of games, I can mod and all the stuff that the Master Race keeps going on and on about. My gaming potential would magnify tenfold and I’ll still be getting everything that Xbox gamers are getting.
Here’s where stuff gets a bit murky. The biggest pull of owning a console is convenience. You don’t have to build a PC and fiddle with hardware or anything, you can just pop in a game and go. PC gaming is still struggling with that to an extent, but it has gotten a lot easier to become a PC gamer. Numerous build guides and support lines have popped up to make PC building easier. You can even buy a PC using components that you choose and a retailer will put it together for you. If you want to go further, you can buy a something like an Alienware or a Razer PC that comes prepackaged (even though they are ludicrously expensive). Let’s not also forget that PCs allow you to upgrade them further in the future while the Scorpio will remain the same throughout and online services like Steam make optimizing and purchasing games a breeze.
I then thought about any advantages that the Scorpio gave me and I honestly couldn’t come up with any. There’s no exclusive games or convenience associated with it and for the same amount, I can buy a powerful PC capable of a lot more and have everything a Scorpio would have given me anyway. It would take a bit of time to build a PC, but it’s a relatively small inconvenience for the potential benefits that I can gain from it. Also, I can still own an Xbox One that has the games I own on PC too thanks to cross-buy.
Then I thought a bit harder and realised something that kind of debunked everything I mentioned here. Microsoft doesn’t lose in any way, no matter what route I take. I go PC, they still make money off me through game sales and I’m on Windows 10, their other platform. I buy a Scorpio and then they make profit from me for that. Rather than look at Scorpio as a replacement, I sould have looked at it as an option. There’s no doubt that the Scorpio will perform well with people that are into consoles and don’t know about the world of PC gaming and those that are privy can just go with PC instead.
So actually this decision by Microsoft was brilliant if you look at it from a certain perspective. It’s a win-win for them either way and we now have the added benefit of cross-buy and cross-play to go along with it. So in the future when the Scorpio is released, I will just hop onto the PC gaming train and get the added benifits from that along with being able to own an Xbox One still. But part of me still questions the validity of the Scorpio due to it being effectively outphased by PC gaming and my worry of irrelevance still holds true. It will be a niche product, for people that don’t want to make the admittedly scary jump to the Master Race, but you can’t deny that Microsoft’s strategy will pay off for them no matter what the outcome. If the Scorpio tanks and everyone buys a Windows 10 capable PC, what did they lose? Not much.
Well played, Microsoft.
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