Oh Microsoft. What have you learned from Sony’s mistakes?
Nothing. The answer is nothing.
I have a lot of respect for Richard Leadbetter. He’s Eurogamer’s “Digital Foundry Guy.” He’s spent years now analyzing the technical aspects of video games. He has a love of technology that’s borderline obsessive.
Now, Microsoft has flown him out to Redmond and he’s written a hilarious pile of articles about Scorpio, filling all of Eurogamer’s featured page slots…based on almost nothing.
I’ll boil it down for you:
The leaked specs were basically right.
The system will require supersampling on 1080p displays.
They’re pushing developers to render in native 4k.
It might cost $500 ****ing dollars.
I’ll come back to that last one.
But where are the games???
My favorite part of the hundred million articles currently hoping for your clicks on Eurogamer is this quote, from the beginning of this article:
Coming out of my visit and talking to colleagues, the main questions I was asked mainly concerned things that either I can’t talk about or don’t know. What does it look like? How big is it? What are the games like? What’s it called and how much will it cost?
Richard. Can I call you Richard?
I feel for you buddy.
But these are the questions that real people want to know about. And if Microsoft wasn’t willing to answer them, you probably shouldn’t have wasted their time and money letting them fly you out to their HQ.
Instead, he got a bunch of technical data we more or less already knew, and then he wrote a huge wall of vague text about what this might mean for games. And the whole time reading it I was sitting here like this.
WHERE ARE THE GAMES???
Where. Are. The. Games.
Video game consoles require one major component in order to exist: video games. Bad hardware has had good games, and good hardware has had bad games. But they all had games.
Software is the reason hardware exists. This is true in the PC space as well.
And I get it. I get that it’s fun to have weird orgasms about technology. I’ve been building PC’s my whole life, and some of them have had lucite windows so you can see the bits inside.
But that’s only fun for a few minutes. I bought those fancy PC components because they would make my gaming and working experiences better, not because I like to look at computer chips.
The chips don’t matter. The average consumer is happy enough with where graphics are right now and doesn’t care if they’re incrementally better. Sony learned this the hard way last year with the PS4 Pro. As someone who likes hardware, their chips were pretty impressive, but I needed more than that. Boost mode finally gave me that reason, but only barely.
When Nintendo announced the Switch, they didn’t even talk about the chips. They were like hey here is a home console you can also take with you. That’s an actual use case. It’s not weird footage of chips spinning around in dramatic lighting. It’s an explanation of the thing you do.
And then they said: Also here is a Zelda! And that was enough for millions to go buy the thing. Which I still haven’t found.
I’m still bitter.
And how about that price?
$500 is no longer the price that a console can cost.
Sony was laughed out of the room when the PS3 originally launched at $499 and $599. The PS4 and Xbox One have never broken the $399 barrier for this very reason. EDIT: Oh god, I forgot about how Microsoft launched the Xbox One at $499 with the Kinect included. Because that was so dumb. They sold their less powerful console for more money than the PS4. Well then. Good.
Someone who wants the latest hardware is probably much better served buying a PC, once you’re asking them to spend $500. Plus, with Microsoft’s commitment to Windows 10 gaming, and all their exclusives also being on Windows…you wouldn’t even miss out on any games.
Also, Sony may even have room by this fall to drop the price of the PS4 Pro, and then they can laugh in Microsoft’s face all the way to the bank.
And did I mention that all this power is nothing without games? Because it’s nothing without games.
The extreme sales success of the Switch, slim PS4, Xbox One S, cell phones, and mid-range gaming laptops shows that most gaming consumers don’t care about chips: they want affordable access to GAMES.
They want to play video games.
Some people don’t seem to understand that.
Microsoft hasn’t shown us any games yet. Not even Crackdown 3. (Are they still making Crackdown 3?) And, like Sony, they’ve hampered themselves by saying that all the games will still run on the old machine.
So why do I need the new one then?
Can I take it with me? No.
Does it have new games that I can’t play on my current thing? No.
Will it outperform a similarly-priced and/or specced PC? No.