Who would have thought five years ago as we prepared to enter the next generation of consoles with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, that by 2017, Sony would be dominating the sales charts worldwide over Microsoft. After leading the pack for almost all of the previous generation with the Xbox 360, it was their message at the Xbox One unveiling, and the poor communication afterward, that led to Sony being able to step up and deliver a “gamer’s first” message and really hit a homerun with the PS4. That goodwill has translated to enormous sales, and for a generation that many thought would be the final one, we now have a renewed interest in console gaming, and are starting to look ahead toward the future.
It’s undeniable that there will be a next generation. There will without a doubt be a PlayStation 5. There will almost assuredly be another iteration of the Xbox brand. Nintendo, after having their best launch weekend ever with the Switch, will absolutely have a successor to it when the time is right. But there has been a wrench in the traditional console cycle this time, and it started last year with the release of the PlayStation 4 Pro. Sony jumped out of the gate with a console that was “just a little bit better” than what the original PlayStation 4 model was able to achieve. Boasting the ability to upscale to 4K, higher textures, better framerates, and now the ability to run older games released on the system with better performance results thanks to Boost Mode, the PS4 Pro is offering the best experience possible for PlayStation fans.
Later this year at E3, Microsoft is set to blow the roof off of Scorpio, their stop-gap between the Xbox One and whatever is going to come next. But here’s the reason for this article today. Should they hold off for now after seeing what Sony did last September with the Pro? The Project Scorpio release date is going to be a little over a year after Sony’s latest model this holiday season, but will it translate into major sales and help Microsoft catch up worldwide this generation? Surely this has to be one of the main reasons, if not the only one, why Microsoft wanted to do a more powerful version of the Xbox One in the first place, right?
They have a lot of catching up to do around the world and a lot of ground to cover. The Scorpio will certainly help boost sales at the end of this year (even though we can only estimate what the Project Scorpio price will end up being), but the major question to ask is will that momentum carry onward into next year and 2019 as we await the next generation of consoles. In my opinion, I truly believe that Microsoft should wait until 2018 to release the Scorpio, and instead of branding it as part of the Xbox One family, kick off the next generation right then and there. Remember how well that worked out for them in 2005 with the Xbox 360? They were able to capture a huge percentage of the market by putting the 360 out well ahead of the PlayStation 3. They could certainly do it again, if they just wait.
Microsoft and the Xbox brand are in a weird spot right now. With the introduction of the Xbox Play Anywhere campaign that allows gamers to purchase a game once on either Xbox One or PC and have access to the other version for completely free, as well as the renewed interest in releasing all major first party games on PC, a lot of people are finding the reasons to have a dedicated Xbox One dwindling with each new announcement. Add this to the fact that they are well behind in terms of physical sales, and we can somewhat see that the Scorpio is not going to be the Christmas miracle Microsoft is hoping for this year.
Waiting to release Project Scorpio until holiday season 2018 (a full 20 months from now), and branding it as the Xbox Next or whatever they come up with for a name, will translate into way more sales for them than if they just stick it out this year as part of the Xbox One family of consoles. Sony is most likely targeting 2019 for the release of the PlayStation 5, so that would once again give Microsoft a leg up in the next generation console race.
Of course, this is all hypothetical, as we have no idea what could happen or will happen in the coming months and years. But one thing is clear. Microsoft has some work to do, and it will be very interesting to see what transpires after this generation.