I recently wrote about why Microsoft and Sony must announce new consoles at this E3. Well. It looks like Microsoft did the right thing. At the end of the conference, Phil Spencer once again took the stage. Instead of his usual summary of what was just presented, he took a different — and necessary — route. He spoke about the future. He didn’t just discuss the future of Xbox gaming, he spoke about the future of console gaming and really, the industry at large. He did something so rare for game industry executives to do. He looked at the bigger picture.
Phil Spencer spoke about how the next step change in console gaming, “must deliver true 4K gaming and high fidelity VR”. Let’s not beat around the bush here. This is what these consoles should have done in 2013. Clearly, Microsoft have heard the justifiable scrutiny of their current Xbox and looked to have genuinely built a box which will render the resolution and framerate argument completely obsolete.
Enter Project Scorpio.
What do we know about Scorpio? Well, here are some raw specs:
- 6 TFLOPS GPU
- 8 core CPU
- 320 GB/s bandwidth
As an avid PC gamer — as an avid enthusiast PC gamer — let me make this absolutely clear: 6 TFLOPS of GPU power is not trivial. It is, in fact, quite impressive. Keep in mind that the reference GTX 1070 is 6.5 TFLOPS of power, and you begin to understand just how impressive this figure really is. As for the memory bandwidth, damn. That’s nice. Yes, we do not yet know the clocks of the CPU powering the Scorpio, and I suspect any bottleneck in this system will come from the CPU side, however, to scoff at the Scorpio is to completely fail to understand the significance and the necessity of this machine.
As I have outlined in the past, these current consoles are complete garbage, forcing developers to compromise their art and vision again and again. These current consoles are effectively two generations behind modern PCs. Now, with the Scorpio, the console space can catch up significantly. More importantly, this raw power will finally allow developers to fully realize their vision. As Todd Howard of Bethesda put it,
“…and that technology component for us is what we really need to make our vision and our art come alive…we’re moving Fallout 4 to VR, and to have a console that can support that at the resolution and speed that we really want, I think it’s going to be magical.”
Patrick Söderlund, Executive Vice President of DICE, said,
“When I saw the specs of this thing, I’m like, wow…they’re really going for it. They’re not holding anything back…and if we can get a lot more performance — and I mean a lot more like with this — we get to much greater and better gaming experiences as a result.”
The message is clear. This is a console which will finally enable developers to fully realize their vision and art without compromise. This is a console capable of 4K gaming — true 4K gaming. This is a console capable of delivering 60 frames per second gameplay. This is a console which has been desperately needed for the last two and half years. As the video below says,
“This is the console developers asked us to build; they wanted a console with no boundaries, had no limitations.”
Microsoft looks like they genuinely listened to all the feedback from not just developers, but consumers, and critics alike.
“This console is a hundred per cent for you guys. We read the articles, we read the reviews. It’s the ‘we heard you’ console.”
This is a true next generation machine. Keep in mind, most PC gamers don’t have 6 TFLOP GPUs. According to a recent Steam hardware survey, 5% of those surveyed had a GTX 970, a much less powerful graphics card than the one in the Scorpio.
Meaning, the Scorpio is effectively a high end PC today. Now, the question is, will it still be powerful and viable when it launches next holiday, after another year of PC innovation? My answer to that is, yes. 6 TFLOPS is 6 TFLOPS. It’s not a trivial amount. That is plenty of power for 4K gaming at 30fps. And it’s far more than you need for 1080p 60fps now and for years to come.
As Phil Spencer put it,
“True 4K visuals without sacrificing quality. Premiere VR experiences without sacrificing performance. Putting greater graphical fidelity in the hands of the world’s best creators.”
What this all means is that Microsoft finally — finally — did the right thing. They had the responsibility to dig us out of this pit of stagnation we’re currently in. They came back and have given creators the tools to see innovation and creativity flourish again. The announcement of the Scorpio, and messaging from the developers and creators from Microsoft, signify a much needed next step for our industry.
I had said in my E3 predictions article that I fully expected Microsoft to not mention the Scorpio. I can honestly say I have never been more happy to have been so wrong.
Come on, Sony. The ball is in your court now.