For a year now, we have been hearing different rumors that Sony and Microsoft will both be planning to release upgraded versions of their consoles. Both gaming giants have finally lifted the curtains on the projects being titled the Playstation 4 Pro and the Project Scorpio. We don’t know much about what the Xbox Scorpio will have, but the weak presentation that Sony held last week paved the way for Microsoft to regain their lead in console sales, at least in the U.S..
Let’s talk about specifics and what we know about both consoles. Project Scorpio will be a stronger machine, no doubt about that. The Playstation 4 Pro was announced to boast 4.2 TFlops of computing power while the Scorpio will sport, at least, 6. Now, this isn’t a caveat to Sony, as a powerful console doesn’t necessarily mean a good one. The truth of the matter is whether or not next-generation titles will be able to use this power to benefit their games further. So far, from what we have heard, barely any titles currently in development for the Playstation 4 Pro will run games in native resolution. Most titles announced during Sony’s Playstation event were games that were running upscaled on the newest hardware. As someone looking at current-generation games, especially those that run on the PC, I feel the first to take advantage of 4K rendering may take a substantial advantage within the gaming industry. I’m talking games that will run natively at a 3840 x 2160 resolution (4K UHD). Huge franchises like Gears of War, Halo, and Forza taking advantage of this hardware.
For reference, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 is capable of pushing 9 TFLOPS of computing power – Dramatically over what the next-generation consoles have been promised to produce. This card can push out the majority of video games today in a stunning 3840 x 2160 resolution, whereas the Playstation 4 Pro may only be able to upscale games to this resolution. While we don’t know the exact system specifications of the Xbox Scorpio, with the added boost in performance over Sony’s product, the Xbox should be able to support these settings natively.
It is hard to say what the Xbox Scorpio can do, but if Microsoft was aiming to support true 4K resolution natively when it is released next fall, the Playstation 4 Pro could fall behind in performance and ultimately in sales – especially if Microsoft prices the consoles around the same price. This is where the article title falls into place; Microsoft has an extra year to prepare for a substantial re-branding of the Xbox One. If they can somehow manage native 4K support, support for UHD Blu-rays, all while still making the Xbox One console relevant regarding software, Microsoft can quickly take the lead in the console races. (Edit: I am referring to North American sales.)
At the end of the day, it depends on the developer support. Developers can aim to use the increase in computing power to advance their games further or by utilizing native 4K rendering. Some games may even be able to do both, but this may be part of the reason that games like Crackdown 3 have seemingly disappeared from Microsoft. Perhaps the developers want to aim to deliver 4K content while making up with the promises shown during Gamescom 2015.
The console’s price point is also critical. The Playstation 4 Pro was given the price point of $399.99 USD ($499.99 CAD) while the Xbox Scorpio has yet to be given an MSRP. At this point, I’d say for Microsoft to be successful, their console would need to be competitively priced, which I am proposing the same price point of $399.99 to remain relevant in the market. If, they were able to match the price – or hell, beat the price of the Playstation 4 Pro and offer up all the specifications noted above – Sony can be in some serious trouble going into 2017.
We have to keep in mind that we still know next to nothing about Nintendo’s next console, the Nintendo NX. For all we know, Nintendo could be working towards a massive 4K reveal themselves, which could be more on par with what we see with next-generation specifications. Nintendo is rumored to be announcing details about the Nintendo NX in October, so hopefully we hear more information about this then.
Sony has been dominating console sales ever since the next-generation debut of 2013. According to numbers reported back in February, the Xbox One has sold more than 20 Million consoles which pale in comparison to Sony’s 40 Million Playstation 4’s said back in May. This is worldwide. In certain parts of the world, the Playstation 4 is wildly outselling the Xbox One, where Xbox One sales figures are in double-digits, at least in Japan.
You raise your pitchforks high in the air, “The Playstation 4 Pro isn’t what it is cracked up to be?!” You exclaim. “How dare you, Skyler, for shame.” However, considering the facts that I mentioned above, the Playstation 4 Pro’s placement is weird… especially considering not all of the Playstation 4 Pro’s titles will support native 4K rendering. Microsoft will have a year longer to work on Project Scorpio which could mean a great leap for Microsoft as they peer into 2017. Of course, this opinion relies solely on the fact that 4K Gaming is indeed the next best thing – which may or may not be true depending on who you are and what display you own.
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