With E3 2017 all wrapped up, we can all agree that we’re pretty excited about a lot of the amazing announcements. Undoubtedly, Microsoft showed up ready to party with some of the biggest announcements so far. However, this is not all taken in high stride. The Xbox One X, formally know as “Project Scorpio” was finally unveiled. Many of us received the answers we were all waiting on. Is it truly worth the wait? Better yet, is it worth the price?
Project Scorpio has come full circle. After almost two years of its leaks, we've all been waiting patiently to see what Microsoft has in store to compete with Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro. Enter the Xbox One X. Dubbed the World's Most Powerful Console; the X features real native 4K at an industry standard 60fps, six teraflops of computing power, and 12GB of GDDR5 memory. The console is impressive even by a PC gamer’s standards. We could finally see optimized graphics that reach the potential and capabilities that now rival a gaming PC rig.
I can attest that the specs are a little exciting. Not that I am going to convert back to console gaming, but the X could serve as a medium to educating the general population about PC gaming. It has been considered a niche for a while and its high time that the mass market enjoys some of the benefits of superior graphical fidelity and the clarity of achieving that coveted 60fps.
Here is what is disappointing. The Xbox One X has the greatest specs (on paper) for what a gaming console should be. If you ignore the mythical marketing ploy that is “GDDR5”, you will find the internals of the X is similar to a mid-tier custom gaming PC. Here is a detailed breakdown of the specs:
The reason why I say that using GDDR5 is a marketing ploy is this; newer PC's operate on GDDR4 memory as the primary access for RAM. GDDR5 does not exist as available CPU RAM for the PC to use for computing performance. GDDR5 exists in PCs as a memory buffer for graphics cards only. I feel that both Sony and Microsoft know this very well, and to make up for inadequate levels of computing RAM, they don't include it on the specs sheet. Instead, they rely on the GDDR5 available RAM to tell a different story. I will have to admit, however, that having a pool of 12GB of GDDR5 is impressive, to say the least. The only cards that come to mind with that much memory buffer are the GTX 1080 and the GTX Titan. I may be wrong in this regard to other available cards, but let's consider that 12GB on a console is a welcome addition.
Something else that is disappointing is the fact that both the original Xbox One and the One X are both integrated and run on Windows 10 operating systems. They may not feel that way to the average user. That’s because there is an aggressive Xbox GUI displayed over the top of the Windows 10 OS. But at the root of the OS, they are the same. I feel that this is a missed opportunity for Microsoft. Although they want to keep the experience similar yet different than a PC, I think that by allowing a full unlock to a desktop version of Windows may increase overall console sales. It could be a cheaper alternative to PC gaming for the masses. At $499.99 it would be an incredible pre-built machine by Microsoft that is slim, and convenient in nature. I think that the response would be incredibly positive leaving it as just a console with higher graphical performance and capabilities could be the downfall of this particular model. It’s a little expensive for a console, but for that price, it better be keyboard and mouse compatible out of the box.
It would be a tough choice, however, by unlocking the bootstrapper and allowing users to have access to the full power of the Windows 10 OS. There would be a clear and concise drop in “Xbox” branded game sales. This is because retailers like Steam or G2A could then be involved in the sale of 3rd party titles. This could loosen the foothold that Microsoft has on its licensing fees to developers like Ubisoft, who pay a fee to Microsoft to build games for its consoles. This would be in direct competition with the PC, where developers would flock to where licensing fees are not present to develop software or titles for the platform.
There is still hope, however. With the release of the X, one thing is certain. Gamers everywhere are looking for the best experience when playing the latest games. They want the best graphics, social interactions, performance, and titles. The release of the X almost confirms a theory that I have. And that theory is the fact that the business model of a console is dated and we are indeed looking at the last few generations of the console war. I am predicting that Microsoft has about two more generations left to give and Sony is not far behind. What I am saying, in short, is that we may not see a PlayStation 7. Instead, the big corporations like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will be forced to kneel to the ever powerful PC and sell their games and experiences like a service rather than a physical product. Xbox and PlayStation will be synonymous with distributors much like Netflix, Hulu, Steam, or GOG. I believe as time goes on, we will need upgrades and updates to consoles more frequently. As a result, consoles will be too expensive to maintain the business model that they have enjoyed for the last five decades or so. Consoles will become what they despise most, PCs. They will have upgradable and modular designs. Upgrading a CPU or a GPU would then be swappable. And having a proprietary "gaming box" will be a thing of the past.
Or I could be completely wrong. I guess no one ever knows. What we need for now is more cross-platform play. I’m looking at you, “Xbox Play Anywhere.” Try not to suck so much. And allow us to show why a keyboard and mouse is superior to even your elite controller.
Be sure to check in here on Amazon for when Xbox One X pre-orders go live.
For those who don’t have an Xbox One yet, they are now almost half off. The Xbox One S can be bought on Amazon now for only $269.99!