In an interview with Engadget at Gamescom 2016, Aaron Greenberg, head of Xbox games marketing, spoke about Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio. In this interview Greenberg gives insight into Microsoft’s thought process regarding Scorpio, and how they hope to change the landscape of console gaming. Further pushing the idea of ending console generations as we know them.
“For us, we think the future is without console generations; we think that the ability to build a library, a community, to be able to iterate with the hardware — we’re making a pretty big bet on that with Project Scorpio,” said Greenberg. “But we’ll see. We’re going to learn from this, we’re going to see how that goes.”
Greenberg is right to be hesitant. Console gaming has worked well because historically customers know what to expect when they buy a console. It’s typically the type of purchase they don’t have to worry about for five to seven years. Having a console market where there is a new version every one to two years would be a shock to these customers.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has stated that the inspiration for this idea is the smartphone market, where customers upgrade their phones every two years or sometimes yearly. The smartphone market is a terrible place to get inspiration from, as it’s completely different in business terms.
One of the reasons customers are able to so easily move up to a new phone is the fact they are offered affordable payment plans and a way to upgrade their phones by their service providers, without feeling much pain upfront. A relic of the era of smartphone subsidies. Consoles? No such sales infrastructure exists.
The smartphone market has also shown that saturation is a very real problem for phone makers. Even the all mighty Apple is having big declines in sales of their iPhone. These are devices that have become integral for daily life and are still being affected by this. Will consoles be able to fare any better as purely recreational devices?
Microsoft is taking a big gamble by moving forward with this as their plan for the Xbox brand, and it could cost them dearly.