Consoles are, historically, slightly odd. While smartphone manufacturers (and just about everybody else) provide yearly updates to their products to keep them up-to-date, console manufacturers do no such thing. Look at the Xbox 360 – apart from visual upgrades, the console remained largely unchanged in terms of tech throughout its eight-year cycle.
However, with the introduction of the likes of the PS4 Pro, Xbox One S and now Project Scorpio, console manufacturers are making an effort to keep consoles in line with their PC brethren. See also: Best games consoles 2017.
Here, we discuss all we know about Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio including release date and pricing rumours, and some of the key features that you can expect from the high-end console. Also see: PS4 vs Xbox One
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When is the Xbox Scorpio release date?
Xbox One Scorpio expected release date: Christmas 2017
Xbox One Scorpio expected reveal date: 11 June 2017
So before we get into the nitty gritty of what to expect from Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio, we thought we’d first address one of the most important elements: its release date and pricing. While there’s no solid release date just yet, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer hinted that it’d be with us by Christmas 2017 (or “holidays” as our US counterparts call it) when explaining why the company decided to announce the project so early.
"It's crazy to announce something this early, but when I put myself in the shoes of our customer, I want to be able to make a choice on what console I want to buy with as much information as possible," Spencer said. "We want to give you the information to make that decision. We also want to go talk to the developers that are out there today, that are building games for next holiday, and say here's what you're going to have at your disposal on the console side."
Why would Spencer want to “talk to developers […] that are building games for next holiday” if the company had no plans for the console to be on the market by then? So, we’ve got a broad 2017 release date. Not the best scoop ever, but at least we know to expect it by Christmas 2017.
However, that doesn't mean that progress isn't being made - it's just not ready to be showcased to the world. In fact, according to Phil Spencer via Twitter, he's played his first games on the Scorpio. He tweeted that it was a great day, and claims that the games played great and the console looked right, and that he's very proud of the team (of course!).
Then, in February, Microsoft announced an event that'll take place on Sunday June 11 at 2pm PT (11pm in the UK) where it's likely that we'll get our first look at the finished Xbox One Scorpio ahead of its Christmas release. The event is due to take place at E3 2017, the world's biggest gaming event, making it the perfect opportunity for the company to show off the upcoming console. While there were no fresh clues about what to expect, one thing is for sure: we don't have long to go now.
Of course, that doesn't help us narrow down the Xbox One Scorpio's potential release date, but it does give us an update on the project and an indicator that development is on-schedule for a Christmas 2017 release.
As of March, the Microsoft Store features a Project Scorpio store page detailing the console's six teraflops of graphical processing power and the offer of 'true' 4K gameplay. It doesn't give much away beyond that apart from a 'Holiday 2017' release date, which ties in with everything we've said above. If nothing else, it confirms that the Scorpio is on track and we'll likely see an E3 reveal before a Christmas 2017 launch.
Oh, and while there's no price tag on the listing itself, there's a price of $7,777,777 in the meta description of the page (see below). Don't start panicking though, as it's only a placeholder and not a console for the world's richest 1 percent!
How much will the Xbox One Scorpio cost in the UK?
Xbox One Scorpio estimated price: £350-500
But what about pricing? While there’s no confirmation of pricing just yet, Spencer hinted about possible pricing while speaking to The Verge.
"We're not ready to announce something right now, but you can imagine at the price point of Scorpio – which we haven't actually said, but think about consoles and where they live in terms of price point – having something at six teraflops that will get millions of people buying it is very attractive to some of the VR companies that are out there already, and we've architected it such that something will be able to plug right in and work."
It's not the only time Spencer has hinted at the high price point for the upcoming Xbox, as he also responded to a comment from analyst Michael Pachter who said it'd be "suicide" for the Scorpio to be priced at more than the PS4 Pro. Speaking via Mexican website levelup.com, Spencer said that it'd be a "premium" console and that "we have not announced the pricing yet, but want to make sure that the investment we are making in the product of Scorpio goes hand in hand with the requirement of high-end consumers. And that means a higher price".
However, while many assumed by these comments that the console would cost more than a standard console, Phil Spencer recently told AusGamers that the 4K system will launch at a "console price point". The key for the Xbox team was to develop a console that delivered on the promise of 4K gaming without sacrificing the affordability of a console. "When you talk to me about Scorpio, the term I use about the architecture isn’t the six teraflops which is obviously what we’ve announced, it’s balance" Spencer explained.
"Really what it is, is you want a platform that is balanced between memory bandwidth, GPU power, you know, your ability to move memory and [an] amount of memory around in many ways is more inhibiting to the performance of your game than absolute teraflops on any one of the individual pieces, and when we designed Scorpio we really thought about this balanced rig that could come together at a price-point. Like, I want Scorpio to be at a console price-point, I’m not trying to go and compete with a high-end rig. And because we’re building one spec, we’re able to look at the balance between all the components and make sure that it’s something we really hit that matters to consumers and gamers" he said, following up.
Taking in the above rumours and comments, let’s assume that Project Scorpio will cost slightly more than standard consoles, possibly around the same price the Xbox One when it first came out – that puts it at around the £350-500 mark. It’s far from the competitive £249 price tag of the Xbox One S, but with native 4K output and VR capabilities at the very least, we’re not too surprised about the high-end pricing. (See also: How to set up an Xbox One.)
Read next: The best Xbox One deals.
What are the rumoured features?
As we’re just under a year from launch, specs and feature rumours are a little light on the ground. However, with that being said, we’ve been teased with a few details that’ll keep us and gamers around the world interested in Microsoft’s upcoming project.
What we do know is that Project Scorpio will be impressively powerful due to the six teraflops of graphical performance it provides. While it’s three teraflops less than the recently announced Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, the graphical output could rival that of the GTX 970 and as such, provide the console with virtual reality capabilities as well as much-improved gameplay.
This will also mean it will leave the PS4 Pro in its dust, purely through its raw performance output.
We also know that AMD chips will be powering Microsoft’s Project Scorpio; "We are proud that Microsoft has chosen to expand their Xbox One family of devices with two new consoles featuring AMD's high-performance semi-custom SoCs that support revolutionary new technologies like HDR, 4K and high fidelity VR to enable the next generation of immersive gaming experiences," the company said in a recent statement.
That's not all the Xbox Scorpio will offer either, if recent rumours are anything to go by.
While we had previously speculated about virtual reality support for Project Scorpio, Microsoft took to the stage at GDC 2017 and officially announced that mixed reality experiences are coming to not only Project Scorpio, but also the Xbox One in 2018.
For those that are unsure of what mixed reality is, you're not alone as different companies use it to describe different concepts. Microsoft's definition is a mix of virtual and augmented reality: an experience that mixes the real world with digital information, like playing Minecraft on your living room table or seeing the representation of in-game characters beyond the borders of your TV.
Both augmented and virtual reality offer different benefits: virtual reality is more immersive, while games like Pokemon GO are perfect for use in augmented reality. For more information on what mixed reality is, take a look at the following explainer from Microsoft:
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An improved gaming experience
As well as VR, Project Scorpio looks to provide users with a generally improved gaming experience in a number of ways. First of all, Microsoft has promised that the console will be able to render graphics at 60Hz, providing buttery-smooth gameplay that’s synced to the refresh rate of your TV, although we’re not sure if this is applicable to 4K gaming just yet.
To appreciate the second point, we first have to explain how consoles ‘work’. While developers may claim that, for example, console games run at [email protected], the resolution may drop during more graphically demanding periods to make sure that you don’t see much (or any) drop in framerate. However, Microsoft claims that this won’t happen when playing on the upcoming console; "When a game like that runs on Scorpio it's going to run at maximum resolution the whole time," Spencer said when speaking with The Verge.
Speaking at the Xbox FanFest in Mexico City, Xbox Executive Aaron Greenberg confirmed that Project Scorpio will bring "really true 4K". Speaking at the event, Greenberg commented that Project Scorpio "will bring really true 4K, really incredible visual games that we've never seen before on the console."
"People who have spent thousands of dollars on a high-end PC are getting that experience. How do we bring that to scale in a console in your living room? That's a big part of what Project Scorpio is about." he added. This follows comments from Microsoft Studios GM Shannon Loftis in September 2016 talking about native 4K gaming; "Any games we're making that we're launching in the Scorpio time frame, we're making sure they can natively render at 4K".
A redesigned Xbox One controller
Per The Leaker, there might be a redesigned Xbox One controller alongside the Xbox One Scorpio later on this year. Although the changes aren't huge, it could make the lives of gamers much easier. Why? The main change is a tweaked joystick which looks to be wider and easier to grip, with the site claiming that it'll "increase the timing and accuracy of moments" somehow. Take a look at the below photo and judge for yourself.
So, those hoping for an entirely new controller are out of luck, but hopefully the new analogue sticks will make it more responsive and comfortable to use over long gaming sessions.
We’ll update this article with new information as soon as we receive it, so make sure you check back soon for the latest Project Scorpio news.
Read next: The most anticipated games of 2017
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