Just recently, Microsoft made Project Scorpio's official specs available to the public by way of an exclusive hands-on experience with Eurogamer, and the full rundown of what's under the next piece of Xbox hardware's hood is so chock full of technical terms and computing jargon that it may be difficult for casual gaming fans to parse exactly how much strength the forthcoming console contains. Suffice it to say, though, Project Scorpio is primed to be the most powerful console to ever be released on the market, but even so, it begs the question of how much the new Xbox system should actually cost to consumers when it launches later this year.
During Eurogamer's examination of Project Scorpio's prowess, the outlet initially gauged that its price could be roughly $500, with this estimation coming from the Microsoft system being compared to Sony Interactive Entertainment's latest hardware release of the PlayStation 4 Pro. When pitted side-by-side with the enhanced PS4, Scorpio has a larger processor, 4 GB more memory, a faster hard drive, a UHD Blu-ray drive, and a state-of-the-art cooling solution, thus supporting claims from Microsoft's Xbox head, Phil Spencer, that it's being built for "the premium gaming customer," which likely means that the system could be much more expensive than the PS4 Pro's price tag of $400, or even its current evaluation at $500.
In addition to Project Scorpio's capacity to provide a powerful platform for new games to be released in the coming years, the console will also evidently make major improvements to existing Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles. However, Microsoft has admitted that some of the enhancements could cause compatibility issues on a small percentage of titles, with certain improvements possibly not being available for all games, much like the experience some owners of the PlayStation 4 Pro have had with certain software releases. That said, this feature of Project Scorpio's will be a big selling point for Xbox fans, for not only would they obviously desire cutting edge technology for all of the latest games, but also they would want to retain the ability to play all of their older titles with the added benefit of enhanced specs.
Circling back to the speculative cost of Project Scorpio, let's consider how detrimental the $500 price tag of the original Xbox One was to the console when it launched back in 2013. Originally, the first wave of Xbox Ones cost that much because it was packaged with Kinect, and not because it had more power than PlayStation 4. At the time, its sales performance was well below that of its competitor in Sony's system, and the brand is still trailing behind in sales despite its drastic price reductions and the discontinuation of Kinect bundles. Be that as it may, it would make sense for Scorpio to be higher priced than PS4 Pro due to the forthcoming Xbox console being more potent, but still, $500 is a lot to ask at this stage of the game, and if the system gets priced as such, it could wind up being a flop.
As of now, most fans who are truly interested in console gaming's current generation already have their hands on an Xbox One, an Xbox One S, a PS4, a PS4 Slim, a PS4 Pro, a Wii U, or a Nintendo Switch. So, given that Project Scorpio has been touted as a "premium" Xbox One instead of the introduction of a totally fresh generation of consoles, many gamers are likely to look at its availability with skepticism, especially if its launch doesn't get supported with some well-crafted exclusive games that are absolutely essential experiences on Scorpio. With competing platforms such as Sony's, Nintendo's, and even PC able to boast a variety of exclusive games–and with Microsoft's relationship with developers being shaky at best–it's a hard sell to make that Scorpio is actually geared toward gamers, and an exorbitant price tag would likely be an even bigger deterrent for fans to buy the console.
Of course, it's important to note that with Project Scorpio containing the beefiest hardware of any console to date, Microsoft will surely have to sell the system at a pretty high cost to make a profit, or just to break even on its production. In fact, it's quite possible that a $500 price point could have the company selling it at a loss. Bearing this in mind, it's difficult to not think about the 2006 launch of the PlayStation 3 and its incredibly high asking price of $500 for the 20 GB version and $600 for the 60 GB version, which ended up hurting sales of the system at the outset and went on to negatively impact Sony's bottom line. Eventually, the former CEO of SCEA (which has now been renamed Sony Interactive Entertainment), Jack Tretton, admitted that the PS3's launch price was too expensive, saying that him being made president of the company just ahead of its launch was "like being made the captain of the Titanic just before it hit the iceberg."
Again, it's worth reiterating the impressiveness of the sheer might that Project Scorpio will have, for in addition to all of the aforementioned specs, it's expected to run games in true native 4K resolution. Nevertheless, even this feature points to the possibility of the console costing a pretty penny, and that's not even acknowledging the additional expense of owning a television that can actually take full advantage of the system's power. When one considers how much a decent HDR-enabled TV costs–with sets ranging from $600 at their lowest and $1000 as a median–if Scorpio is priced at the rough calculation of $500, the target market for the system becomes an even narrower niche.
Needless to say, it's entirely possible that Microsoft ends up selling its Project Scorpio console at $400 to better compete with Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which would then make it the best choice overall for fans in the market for a more muscular machine. Should that occur, though, once Scorpio launches later in 2017, it would mean that PS4 Pro will have been available for roughly a year, thus easily putting Sony in the position to counter the upgraded Xbox console's release by dropping the PS4 Pro's price by at least $50, effectively undercutting some of Scorpio's appeal.
Taking all of this into consideration, $500 seems to be the most accurate assessment of how much Project Scorpio should cost right out of the gate, but in order to further justify that potential price, Microsoft will need to share a lot more information about the Scorpio in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully the company plans on using its platform at E3 2017 to further explicate all that Scorpio can offer, including more of its features, its official name, exclusive Xbox games to help support its release, and most importantly, its price.
The upgraded Xbox known as Project Scorpio is set to release sometime during the 2017 holiday season.