After reading Engadet’s interview with Aaron Greenberg for Gamescom this year, it certainly seems like a more coherent version of the Project Scorpio sales pitch than the contradictory information Phil Spencer has been giving us. Thus, I finally have an idea of where Microsoft is going with this console. Project Scorpio is supposed to be part of a “family of devices” in which “everything you have continues forward and it works”. To elaborate on this, Greenberg stated “we want to be able to have the same types of experiences on Xbox Live, the same games, the same friends, both in the living room on their console or at work, on vacation or at school on their PC. You should be able to stay connected, and play the same games through things like Play Anywhere”.
In light of this, it is my hope that when you buy Project Scorpio, it will provide you with a digital library of games that you can play on any Microsoft device (PC, phone, and console). So far, it seems like Microsoft is indeed going in this direction. So are there flaws in this sales pitch or is it as polished as a new Surface Pro? We need to take a look at the benefits of a true Play Anywhere by Microsoft and if those benefits can convert reluctant Steam customers to the Microsoft store.
Certainly the best thing about such a huge digital library would be that I could continue playing my games, regardless of what I’m doing. If Play Anywhere could extend to a Microsoft phone, how much easier it would be if I could play a few more minutes of Far Cry 4 on my phone during a break at work? Not only would we be able to play more often, we could play a greater variety of things. There are definitely some games, like Cuphead or Halo , that would be better suited if you were stuck on a train for most of your commute.
The fingerprints on this shiny surface are that Microsoft will definitely make these games exclusive to the Microsoft Store. This “all devices” strategy is an attempt to compete with Steam, and a heavy-handed one. Most PC gamers use Steam and they’ll be hard-pressed to use a different backend, especially when most of the games they love are already available there. In addition, third-party software is a great deal more compatible and easier to deal with than something locked to specific devices. So even if Microsoft makes amazing games in their store, most people aren’t interested in buying all their devices from one company just so their games will work in the “family.”
As much as I want believe Microsoft is going to make this beautiful thing, I must take a step back and remember: there are going to be flaws regardless of what Project Scorpio is. Microsoft will want to make everything exclusive and there will be constant costly hardware updates. I personally attribute these flaws to Microsoft’s continued desire to glean money from their customers regardless of our actual wants and needs. So let’s not fall for the shiny sales pitch yet, but still hope that maybe that perfect console could be Project Scorpio. Do you think Microsoft is just attempting to improve on the original Xbox One concept, or is Project Scorpio going to truly encapsulate Play Anywhere?
Image Credit: Daniel Grey