It’s been known for a while now that Microsoft is coming out with a new console this Christmas season. Code named ‘Project Scorpio,’ it is being promoted as an upgrade to the company’s current console, the Xbox One. The new system is going to be a powerful one but, as Sega and the Dreamcast learned the hard way, great technology isn’t everything.
If Microsoft could go back to the original reveal of the One, I’m sure there would be a lot of things they would do different. The ‘always on’ feature that required the console to be connected to the internet at least once a day wasn’t popular, the $500 price point compared to Sony’s $400 PS4 also hurt the console, and, finally, the required Kinect attachment turned a lot of gamers off to the console even before it was released. Recently, the One has struggled with a lack of great console exclusive games. There have been a slow trickle of exclusive games coming out, but nothing like what Microsoft's main rival Sony has been able to produce.
With Microsoft prepping to reveal even more about the Scorpio at E3 this year, here are 8 Things Microsoft Must Do With The Scorpio and 7 Things It Must Avoid to have a successful console launch.
15 Do This: Distinctive New Design
The Xbox One has never been a great looking console to look at. The original One has essentially a large, black rectangular box. Nothing about it stood out. The redesigned Xbox One S has a slightly sleeker design and the white color is an improvement, but it still is nothing special.
Microsoft should take a page from Nintendo and come out with a console that really stands out. Ever since the Nintendo 64, Nintendo’s console’s have had distinctive designs that, while not everyone loves, has set them apart from other electronic devices. The GameCube, Wii (and to a lesser extent Wii U), and Switch all are very distinctive. Someone can glance at them and instantly know they are a gaming console. Since its original launch, Xbox has had a conservative design. An impressive new design would get people talking.
14 Avoid This: Neglect The One
Despite having a less-than-stellar launch and a recent slow down in exclusive games, there still is a large and dedicated base of Xbox One owners. Microsoft can't forget about those people to ensure continued loyalty to the brand. Though Scorpio will be their hot, new console, they can’t forget about current One owners. They still need a steady stream of new games and upgrades coming to the system. The Xbox 360 had continued support for several years after the One's launch and that is something Microsoft needs to continue with Scorpio. Give gamers time to get prepare to buy a new console and don't just ditch them as soon as the latest one has come out.
13 Do This: Convince One Owners
New and improved graphics might be a reason for some people to upgrade consoles, but it won’t be good enough for everyone. Microsoft needs to convince current One owners why we should upgrade.
I know they’ve said that there won’t be Scorpio exclusives, but that would be the easiest way to get One owners to upgrade. Perhaps sweeten the deal with a new and improved controller, perhaps one similar to the Xbox Pro controller which is now sold separately from the console. This is apparently going to be a serious gaming machine, why not include a seriously great controller that allows the user to customize just about anything they want with it?
12 Avoid This: Announce A Kinect 3.0
To say the Kinect for the Xbox One fell flat with consumers would be an understatement. No one seemed to care when it was announced as a package deal with the One originally, in fact, it seemed to turn many people off and developers didn't seem excited either. With little developer support, announcing a Kinect 3.0 seems unlikely, but you never know what will happen with Microsoft, as they’ve been known to make questionable decisions in the past. Kinect has always seemed more like an interesting idea and a piece of hardware that never worked quiet well enough to make it a ‘must-have’ item like the original Wii was.
11 Do This: Announce Exclusive Deals With Developers
One of the many things Sony has done right with the PS4 this console generation is exclusive deals with developers. Even if they are timed exclusives, PS4 seems to be getting all the new content for large third party first. Microsoft needs to do a better job of courting these developers to make exclusive content for their new console. With streaming sites like Twitch growing in influence every day, streamers will flock to the new Scorpio console if they can get access to content earlier because their viewers want to see the new content themselves. While a franchise like Call of Duty has lost some of its popularity in recent years, exclusive new maps for the Scorpio would be a great way to boost the new console’s status.
10 Avoid This: Focus Too Much On ‘Casual Gamers’
The ‘casual gamer’ is a coveted set of consumers for any gaming company. Unfortunately, those aren’t the kind of people looking to buy an expensive new console. Those kind of people are looking to buy something like the recently re-released NES Classic console. It’s something easy and relatively cheap that they can plug in and play.
Scorpio is never going to be that. So, if Microsoft wants the Scorpio to be a hit, they need to focus on their core audience: gamers who care about things like how powerful the system is and what kind of great games are coming out for it. Focus on those core gamers and, if the console and games are good enough, the other kinds of gamers will follow.
9 Do This: Expand VR Options
It seems pretty clear that virtual reality will play a large part in the future of gaming. With major companies like Facebook, Sony, and Google investing in VR, it is time for Microsoft to fully invest in Virtual Reality. It’s fine if they don’t want to come out with an Xbox brand VR headset, but VR must play a part in the Scorpio’s launch. Consumers are adopting the new technology more and more. What better way to show off your new console and its potential in the future of gaming than with some great Xbox exclusive VR titles for the Scorpio?
And, perhaps most importantly with VR games, let people get in there and play them. VR is something that needs to be experienced. When the Scorpio is finally shown off, make VR games playable so everyone can see just what the new system is capable of.
8 Avoid This: Ignore Big 3rd Party Games
Games make consoles. It’s a stupid thing to say, but it seems to be something the heads at Microsoft have forgotten. There has been a drought of really great games for the One recently, especially compared to some of the great games coming out for other consoles like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Persona 5. The good thing is that Microsoft execs have stated that one of their goals with the Scorpio is to win back develops they may have turned off with the One. It's a large task, but one they need to do in order to keep up with Sony. Let’s just hope they keep that promise and we see some really great games coming out again for a Microsoft console.
7 Do This: Learn From The One Missteps
At the end of the last console cycle, the Xbox 360 was a great console. There was a deep library of great games, the user interface of the system itself was great, and Microsoft was riding high with sales topping the other systems.
Then, the One launched and everything seemed to have been thrown out the window. The UI wasn’t as intuitive or as functional as the 360’s, there were no killer games, and the system generally struggled out of the gate. Microsoft can learn a lot from the way the One launched and avoid many of those mistakes with the Scorpio.
6 Avoid This: Call It The Xbox One.5
We still don’t know what the official name of the Scorpio and Microsoft can, again, learn something from Nintendo. When Nintendo announced the Wii U originally, a lot of people were confused if it was a new console or a new controller and it dampened a lot of the excitement they were trying to drum up for their new console. You can even argue that the PS4 Pro is suffering from a similar situation. Your average person or parent might not know the difference between a PS4 and a PS4 Pro, other than the price, so they'll naturally go with the cheaper one. Microsoft can avoid the same kind of situation by calling Scorpio something distinctive that doesn’t have anything to do with One.
5 Do This: Announce Halo 6 Is Launching With The Scorpio
The original Halo is what sold the original Xbox for many people. The mixture of great graphics, fun and innovative gameplay, and impressive storytelling made Halo a must-buy title for many gamers. While Halo isn’t as popular as it was back in the original Xbox days, but it still is Microsoft’s flagship title and the name itself still carries a weight in the gaming community.
Announcing a Halo 6, with impressive new graphics that the Scorpio is capable of, could be a selling point for many people who are on the fence about the new console. What if you could play the new Halo completely on a VR headset? How cool would that be? Imagine driving a Warthog in first person or gunning down a charging Elite all from the perspective of virtual reality. That might be enough to sell the console itself.
4 Avoid This: Bank Everything On Halo
As stated previously, Halo isn’t as popular as it once was and it would be a mistake for Microsoft to bank selling the console on a new Halo alone. Gamer’s tastes have changed. Halo is still a great game to lead off with, but to really sell people on the new console, Microsoft needs more. They need a new independent property, something people haven't seen before, something original that gets people talking and excited for the Scorpio. I know that may seem like a tall order, but there are plenty of talented developers out there releasing great games all the time. Microsoft just needs to take a chance with one of them and not fall back on something easy and safe like another Halo or Gears of War.
3 Do This: Scorpio $400 Price Tag
One of the largest knocks on the One when it was first announced was the price tag. It originally launched at $500 compared to Sony’s PS4 at $400, making it a no-brainer for many consumers. Many people are predicting the Scorpio to come in at $500 because of the power of the system. Microsoft could really surprise a lot of people and win back some doubters if it was able to launch the Scorpio at that $400 price.
Not only will this price point surprise a lot of industry insiders and reporters, it would be seen as a gesture of goodwill, a sign that Microsoft is learning from its mistakes with the One and looking to garner more trust and appreciation from consumers, especially those who were turned off by the myriad of issues the One had when it was first announced.
2 Avoid This: Talk About This As Simply An Upgrade To The One
Sony made a rare misstep when they made the PS4 Pro. It is only a slight upgrade from the original console and one that left many people wondering what the point of buying a new console so soon would be. It’s safe to say, sales haven’t been exactly what Sony was hoping for when they launched the PS4 Pro.
Microsoft has already partially avoided that mistake. From all the specs they’ve released, it is clear that the Scorpio will be a beast of a machine and much more powerful than the Xbox One. Microsoft needs to sell it that way too. They can’t sell it as a simple upgrade. This needs to be a big deal. This is a new console. It’s great that all your previous One accessories, like controllers and headsets will work with the new console, but it still needs to be sold as something new. Make it easy on consumers. This is the new console you need in your living room right now.
1 Do This: Exclusives, Exclusives, Exclusives
A powerful new system is useless without great games and one of many things the Xbox One has struggled with is a steady stream of new console exclusives. The PS4 has so many it’s sometimes hard to keep track of: Uncharted, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Nioh are just a few of recent Sony console exclusives that have launched recently to much fanfare meanwhile Xbox owners are sitting there twiddling their thumbs, waiting for a great new exclusive. Gears of War 4 and Halo Wars 2 both underwhelmed a lot of people and it’s clear Microsoft can no longer count solely on their own brands. They need a wide range of studios working on games for their new system. They need a reason for people to own their console and exclusives are it.