Microsoft had a rocky start to this generation after fumbling the ball with Xbox One's announcement. Maybe it was the hubris coming off the high of Xbox 360's runaway success, but it irreparably damaged the new console's reputation and paved the way for Sony's undisputed victory this generation, at least in hardware sales.
The company has a new chance to shine in the next generation, however, with Project Scarlett. While fans are optimistic about the possibilities, Microsoft is keeping loyal followers in the dark about numerous key details, 10 of which are listed below. Hopefully, these are answered soon so people know what to expect next holiday season.
10 The Controller
While the PS5 has shown its controller to several people in the press, no one knows how Microsoft's next controller will look. The company revealed that current Xbox One controllers are compatible, so one can deduce its design not being too far away from the current one, but surely several new features will be added to entice a purchase.
The universal functionality and cross-generational controllers are nice for people's wallets, but it also means less creative possibilities in making a new remote. Some prefer sticking with what works, though, instead of going for something radically different.
The E3 presentation talked a big game about its capabilities but revealed nothing about the aesthetic. Microsoft's console designs are hit and miss, but they always stand out in the living room. The original Xbox was a tank, and the 360 was sleeker but didn't exactly blend in with the rest of the equipment.
The way it looks is a secondary factor, but people still want something pretty sitting in their living room. At the end of the day, however, fans will buy it even if it clashes with the rest of the interior decorations.
Price can make or break a product, and companies have to think strategically when announcing how much something will cost. The PS3's enormous price was a huge contributing factor to the 360's early lead last generation. Both companies are now fully aware of the damage too high of a price can do to a console.
At the same time, new technology isn't cheap, and going too low will mean selling at a significant loss. Most consoles do this, especially at the beginning of a generation, and make up for it in software sales. Whatever the case, people are hoping Scarlett's price tag won't force them to join an organized crime syndicate to pay it off.
7 Release Date
The folks building and marketing the upcoming piece of hardware were generous enough to give people a release window of holiday 2020. At least now parents can expect a slightly more expensive gift giving season and adults can start saving up.
However, an exact date would be even better, letting loyal Microsoft followers clear their calendars, get time off work, and coincidentally get sick and stay home from school on the day of its release.
One launch title has been officially announced - Halo Infinite. The game is promising the same awe the first entry inspired back in 2001 when it launched alongside the original Xbox. People want to know what the console experience will offer when not knee deep in a new game, however.
What will the menu look like, and how will players navigate through the plethora of options present on the system? While games are the most important part of hardware, a good user interface can heighten the experience significantly.
5 Changes To Xbox Live
Xbox Live is the longest running console online service. It started in 2002 and continues this day. It has seen a lot in its time and is almost old enough to vote. The constant updates means the Xbox Live of today is nigh unrecognizable as the same product from sixteen years ago
. When Scarlett launches, what will it mean for the subscription service? In general, Microsoft is making a lot of moves towards streaming and subscription services with Game Pass, so the next generation will surely be more heavily geared towards these services.
4 The Physical Media
Initial speculation pondered whether or not the console would support physical media at all, but the company has since confirmed an optical drive's inclusion on Scarlett. We know Sony's PS5 will ship games on one hundred gigabyte discs, but we don't know if Microsoft will match it.
Games are getting bigger and bigger, and it seems like they'll have no option but to make the discs this large if they hope to fit AAA titles on only one.
3 Models Upon Release
The choice present to consumers this generation is varied. The souped-up consoles are there for the hardcore gamers who want the most optimal gaming experience, but cheaper models exist for the more casual fan or players on a budget. This wasn't the case at the beginning of this generation, however.
Will Scarlett also slowly roll out different iterations of itself, or will the options be present at launch? On one hand, the company doesn't want to confuse consumers. But if Project Scarlett will break people's wallets, a budget option alongside the premium offering may be the way to go.
Mixer started life as Beam in 2016. Shortly afterwards, Microsoft acquired them and the streaming service was on Xbox Ones by August 2017. The company has recently shown a strong dedication to putting their service at the head of the competition after several popular streamers signed exclusive contracts with Mixer.
Live streaming has to be at the forefront of the engineers' minds when crafting the new console. How will Scarlett change streaming? Will it reinvent the wheel or streamline already existing features?
1 Its Name
Everybody is referring to the console as Project Scarlett, but it will likely receive a proper name sometime in the near future. Whatever moniker it earns is currently anybody's guess. Given Microsoft's reputation, any number of silly names are possible.
Maybe they'll do an old fashion Xbox 4, or continue the last system's trend and call it Xbox 2. Something even more radical is on the table as well, like Box, X, or Xbox Xstream, which would signify its ambitions in the streaming space.