At Microsoft's E3 presentation they announced not one, but two new X-Box One consoles to be released over the two years. Firstly we have the X-Box One S to be released this holiday season, boasting a smaller size, 4K support for video and a slightly better processor. That alone would be, as "slim" versions of consoles have been around since the PS2, but in the same conference Microsoft announced Project Scorpio. Boasting the ability to play games at 4K at 60hz with VR support, this super console has a Holiday 2017 release date, making the unreleased X-Box One S already seem inferior.
This is very similar to how Apple operates. Every year, the iPhone is upgraded and replaced, and suddenly your new phone doesn't seem so new anymore. As a selling model this obviously works quite wells, as Apple currently sit at the top of the tech industry money pile. But can the same model work for videogames?
My main issue with the way this has been handled is that I was interested in buying an X-Box One this year. When rumours started surfacing about a "slim" version being released in the holidays, my mind was set on buying one on release. But now, I feel like I'm only setting myself up to be left behind in a year's time when Project Scorpio is released as a more powerful console with VR support. So now I have to make the decision if I want a One soon, or if I can wait a year to buy the better console.
As a consumer, I don't feel like Microsoft as a company are working with me here. If I buy the One sooner, I become part of their infrastructure sooner. I buy more games through their store, I spend more money on X-Box Live Gold. Which for Microsoft sounds like a good deal - they get my ongoing business sooner. But I'm hesitant to do that. Because Scorpio is only a year away.
I think this shows the key difference between phones and consoles. When I buy a phone, I'm always going for Android because I've been on Android for a long time and I'm invested in their infrastructure too much to switch. I probably won't ever get an iPhone for that reason because I don't need two phones. But I have no problem with having multiple consoles.
When Apple release a new yearly phone, they're counting on people still on models a few years old to upgrade alongside new customers getting interested in their products. With the X-Box One, Microsoft can't count on the older audience updating until their consoles brick, and they need to be focusing on new customers with these new console iterations. By announcing two new ones at once, they've made it very hard for a new customer to make a purchasing decision.
Even if I do make a decision, I'm then purposely not getting the other console. Microsoft can't possibly expect people to buy both, which means they're splitting their potential new customers. Not only that, if rumours that the Scorpio will be their main VR machine are true, then they won't be able to get One S buyers involved in their new VR pursuits which will probably become one of their main focuses over the next few years.
I might be completely wrong, and both consoles sell fine. Only time will tell. But I know for me at least, I'm not one hundred percent on board with the idea of new console iterations every year. Because even if I wait for a Scorpio, there'll be news of a Scorpio Slim just on the horizon.
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