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In just a few hours, Microsoft is set to take the stage at the annual E3 Expo in Los Angeles with a shiny new machine in tow to show off. It’s the Xbox Scorpio, a new console out in the fall that’s meant to handily earn the title of “most powerful console” ever made. The company has already released quite a bit of information about the new machine, but crucial questions like price, form factor and final name remain unanswered. Microsoft is expected to answer all these questions as well as reveal some new games at its press conference, which takes place at 2 PM PDT.
The Xbox Scorpio, like chief competitor the PlayStation 4 Pro, represents a new take on the idea of console iteration. Previous console generations constituted a clean break, using their hardware upgrades to play entirely different libraries of games from their predecessors with few exceptions. These new machines, however, are designed to sit alongside the Xbox One and PS4, playing all the same games with higher graphical specifications. That means that all games that work on the Xbox One will also work on the Xbox Scorpio, and vice versa. It makes it more difficult to sell these machines with some new marquee title like companies have usually done in the past. Instead, both companies need to rely on graphics and frame rate alone.
The upgrades are largely driven by the prospect of 4K gaming. Both machines are capable of outputting at 4K to take advantage of new TVs, but Microsoft says that Xbox Scorpio’s hardware will allow it to render at the higher resolution without the upscaling techniques employed by the PS4 Pro. It may sound like an overly technical distinction, but the core gaming community can be very sensitive to console performance, especially when other factors are relatively equal. The Xbox Scorpio would seem to be at least in part an effort for the company to make up for the bungled launch of the Xbox One, which many consumers said focused too much on non-gaming applications and just couldn’t compete with the cheaper, better-performing PS4.
We’ll see what happens. It’s a big day for the company’s gaming ambitions under head Phil Spencer, so stay tuned for more updates.