Next year’s Xbox “Project Scorpio” console will be higher-priced than the affordable Xbox One S. Because obviously.
I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention, waiting for the faux outrage to begin. But that’s silly: As with Sony’s PlayStation 4 lineup, the Xbox One console family will be segregated into mainstream and premium options. And the premium console, Scorpio, will obviously be more expensive than the Xbox One S.
Here’s how Microsoft’s Phil Spencer explains it.
“Scorpio will be a premium console,” he says. “It will cost more than [Xbox One] S, obviously. That’s how we’re building it. We haven’t announced price points for Scorpio yet, but I want to make sure that the investments we’re putting into the product meet the demands of the higher-end customer. And that will be a higher price.”
Spencer also discusses what is apparently still a hot button topic for some gamers, that console makers are no longer sticking with the same, stale hardware design over several years. Instead, there will be mid-stream additions to the product family going forward that extend the capabilities of each console generation.
“There’s not one product that our customers come in and buy,” he says. “Some people come in and buy the 500 GB Xbox One S. Many people now are buying our original Xbox One consoles that are a very good price. There’s no one product that … defines how you’re doing in that market. It’s really the breadth of all the products you have at all the price points. Scorpio is for a higher-end customer who demands the most that they can get out of a console. And we built a console to meet that demand.”
Since Sony is adopting the same strategy, it is instructional to see where that company prices its own consoles.
The least expensive PlayStation is the PlayStation 4 Slim 500 GB console, which costs $300. This maps directly to Microsoft’s new Xbox One S 500 GB console, which likewise costs $300.
Higher up the food chain, the new PlayStation 4 Pro 1 TB console costs $400. And because this console seems similar to the Xbox “Project Scorpio” on paper, one might naturally assume that $400 will be the starting price for Microsoft’s coming premium console.
I don’t think so, however.
Scorpio will be a higher-end device than the PS4 Pro, and will feature “obvious” performance and graphical advantages over the Sony offering, Microsoft says. For example, all Microsoft-published Scorpio games will “natively render” at 4K, meaning that they will not be upsized, as is the case with virtually all PS4 Pro 4 titles today.
So my guess is that Scorpio will debut at a $500 price point, if not higher. In fact, I could see Scorpio retailing for double the price of the Xbox One S, especially if it actually includes VR hardware.
Anyway, we’ll see what happens. We still have this holiday selling season to get through, and I suspect that Scorpio’s hardware specs—and the component costs it will require—are a moving target. Microsoft probably has vague ideas about the price, and hopes that it will be on the lower end of that range. But it’s just far too early to worry about this kind of thing.