Microsoft spent a lot of time at E3 this week talking about their new Xbox One S, and then a short bit at the end of their presentation telling you why you don’t want to buy it.
It was an odd moment, but at the same time I don’t think they had a choice. Let me explain why.
First off, what’s an Xbox One S? The S stands for Slim and the new console is both smaller and thinner than the original. If your problem was that you didn’t have enough space in your AV rack for an Xbox One, the new S model might be your cup of tea.
It also supports 4K. “Games?” you say. Er, no. It supports 4K output for media, not for games. Your Blu-Ray discs will now look properly stunning on your 4K TV and whenever 4K streaming media becomes worth trying, that will look good also. All’s not lost, however. The Microsoft team hinted at and later confirmed that increased CPU and GPU performance was part of the new S model console, and especially for games who struggled with good frame rates when displaying HDR content, the new console may well perform better.
Then there’s the price. For the 500GB model, the new list price is $299. 1TB and 2TB versions of the console are available. That’s a very reasonable price point.
New software for Xbox One consoles is coming soon, including background music, something us PC gamers take for granted. We silence the music tracks in our games, unless they’re really awesome and that doesn’t happen often, and put on our favorite playlists in the background. Now Xbox One gamers will be able to do the same thing.
There were tons of new game titles that are coming for both Xbox One and PS4, I suppose I’d have to give the slight nod to Sony for having more new franchises while Microsoft had a few more sequels, but honestly the difference is slim, if it’s even there. Both of them had very good E3 press conferences.
Microsoft touted Xbox Play Anywhere, which means that Xbox Live games, at least the ones from Microsoft Studios, will be cross platform and allow gamers on Xbox One consoles and gamers on PC to play together and share information easily. That’s been a long time coming as a formal Xbox Live feature and we will see how long it takes them to make it truly widespread.
So how did Microsoft kill themselves, then? By talking about Project Scorpio at the very end. Scorpio is the next generation Xbox console and promises 4K gaming at 60FPS. The time frame? Sometime late next year. So if you were on the fence about getting an Xbox One, would you buy an S model console now, or would you wait for Scorpio next year?
Why was Microsoft compelled to tease Project Scorpio? Because Sony is already on record with their PlayStation Neo console that’s due out next year also. It will support 4K games as well, and in Sony’s plan, any game that works on a PS4 will also work on a PS Neo, and vice versa. (My response to that is yeah…for now.)
Microsoft didn’t want to appear to be far behind Sony in releasing a console that will play 4K games. But, because they wouldn’t pound the table and declare that all Xbox One games would be Scorpio games and all Scorpio games would be Xbox One games, as Sony did with their PS stablemates, Microsoft gave us an either/or decision to make.
Still, it was a good presser none the less. Next week we’ll have our roundup of the new game titles. That’s Into Gaming, I’m Mark Lautenschlager.