Why are major media outlets downplaying the Xbox Project Scorpio reveal?
You would think that today’s gaming media would have a better understanding of the audience they are talking to. In a Google search dominated by mobile and constant social media connections gaming is a constant topic in some for or another. Sorry to break it to folks, but people don’t mind finding about something they don’t know; especially how easy it is today to do so. Why am I saying this? Well yesterday was the official unveiling of Microsoft’s Xbox Project Scorpio sec breakdown. Microsoft took a rather unique approach to explain and show exactly what this upgraded mid gen Xbox was all about. For clarity purposes, the Xbox Project Scorpio is similar to Sony’s Playstation Pro. The Playstation 4 Pro was created by Sony to be a premium console that does higher resolution and better performance for games and plays all of the Playstation 4 games on its sister console. It’s not a new console generation. So players do not have to purchase new games and accessories. This is exactly what the Xbox Project Scorpio is from Microsoft for Xbox One and Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles. The difference is that Microsoft is delivering a much powerful upgrade that is capable of playing VR games, while offering current 1080p television owners a premium visual console, and hitting native 4K content for those that own or will purchase 4K televisions/monitors. Ever since Microsoft announced Xbox Project Scorpio last year at E3 2016 they said it would be the most powerful console ever built. Met with huge skepticism outrageous criticism because they were also releasing a slim version of the Xbox One called the Xbox One S. There was just rampant speculation about just what the Xbox Project Scorpio would be outside of the small tech Microsoft had been touting such as the 6 Teraflops. The subject of jokes and belittling by the gaming media. Microsoft finally took the veil off of Project Scorpio by having one of the most critical and technically savvy content sites do the talking for them.
Digital Foundry is a specific channel part of Eurogamer.net. The division has been making technology breakdown content for gaming in the form of video analysis and comparisons. Whether it is the latest video card from Nvidia or the newest 3rd party console game release. Digital Foundry goes in and analyzes the game to see how it runs on hardware or test out hardware to see if it lives up to it’s billing. They are a resource people in gaming journalism, or hardcore gaming tech go to to get information on exactly what the gaming platforms we use are all about. They don’t play favorites when they do their comparisons, at times they can be a bit generous to certain tech, but for the most part they are fair. With the Xbox Project Scorpio tech reveal though, this is the first time I’ve seen major gaming outlets get jealous in their content because of another outlet getting an exclusive. Some major ones like Kotaku have gone out of their way to not disparage what Digital Foundry have reported on the Xbox Project Scorpio, but rather dismiss the coverage and information. While other outlets such as Game Informer have very little content coverage of the news that Digital Foundry has done. Now you may say well that makes sense I have my own platform why would I give another one more writing time or talk time than me? Well the reason being is that Microsoft along many others such as game journalists have noticed since this generation has started a very strong inclination for major gaming news outlets to really create harsh content that is skewed, omits information, downplay, and blatantly dismiss information pertaining to Xbox gaming content. So skewed is the bias that many of these major outlets do not mask it at all. Rather they deflect. Therefore the reason that Digital Foundry was able to get the exclusive even with their hypercritical analysis of Xbox One as well. They are more fair in their criticism as well as their focus being solely on the tech side of gaming. Digital Foundry could not put their own reputation on the line, by not getting this right or their peers in the industry would have torn them to shreds hurting their tech authority.
Sony is a big reason why major media outlets are downplaying the Xbox Project Scorpio as well. As the current market leader, and to keep the industry competitive major news outlets have been very favorable towards Sony’s Playstation 4. We saw this tide shift happen two years before the release of the PS4. Many of the outlets began the conversation that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 needed more exclusives. While purposely dismissing really good exclusives on the system, along with dismissing indie games that were also a strong aspect of the Xbox 360. During the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One Sony’s machine did not have much exclusives at all. So if you go back to the content that was placed on many of the major gaming news outlets they sang the praises of the Playstation 4 with multi-platform games that ran at slightly better resolution than their Xbox One counter part. Where as the Xbox One exclusive games where downplayed in every single way you could imagine. Despite that, and the mixed message from the early reveal of the Xbox One. The Xbox One launched at a great reception. Part of the reason why the PS4 is where it is today is in large part due to the role of the media, and they way they have covered console gaming. Make no mistake about it. You can go through the coverage, and especially see agendas in the media play out right now.
Microsoft’s strategy in letting the Xbox Project Scorpio message be totally focused on the brand of the media put Digital Foundry on the chopping block. There were no press releases to get wrong, there was no Phil Spencer comment or other Microsoft executives statements to parse or take out of context. No, Microsoft put their confidence in what they created with the Xbox Project Scorpio into the capable hands of those who deliver that specific content focus. That my friends is why the talk about hardware is being rushed, pushed away, and being deflected so quickly to the most obvious reason of why we all buy a games console. To play games. This is why Microsoft from day one set this in motion. It has always been about the games for Microsoft’s Xbox Project Scorpio. They said so at E3 2016, every single update and feature for the Xbox One over the past year has been nothing but gaming focused. So it is very clear to any outlet, any gamer that Microsoft knows full well that the Scorpio is about games. What everyone and their mother has talked about for the past year though is exactly what are the specs and capability of the Xbox Scorpio. So why now the rush to get away from that talk? Well simply because Microsoft nailed the tech. They hit an engineering home run with the console. So much so that it rivals any PC you can build. Go build the Xbox Project Scorpio and see how much it costs you. Microsoft essentially put a bullet into the hardware conversation as far as the console conversation goes. Remember Phil Spenser several months ago spoke about how the hardware was ahead of schedule and he was focused on the games he wants to deliver at E3 2017, even speaking briefly on what he was playing on the console. The media outlets downplaying the Xbox Scorpio reveal are just showing their agenda at this point and it’s laughable.
Microsoft could announce a slew of games at E3 2017 it won’t matter. Why? Because at the end of the day gaming is subjective. What you like, versus what is deemed great is an individual preference. Since that is the case the media can hone in on that as a conversation which has nothing to do with how powerful a console is. It creates the bedrock of parity that they would like to act as if exists. It offers much more room for their to be bias, or critic that again is more opinion based than fact. Do you think every game that gets a 7 is actually always accurate? Do you think when outlets give a game a 10 that the game is truly worthy? The answer is always yes or no, because of the tastes and subjectivity of judging what is good or not in anything. Especially so in gaming. So expect no matter how many games Microsoft announces; we will go back to the back and forth of what game is more worthy of gamers dollar and attention. Not the power of the console. Major media in gaming or covering gaming are going to lean on this predictably. Except, in the case of Xbox Project Scorpio, Microsoft has made a console that will perform in such a way that it will be hard to ignore talking about how it lets you game. Multi-platform games are going to look great. Digital Foundry’s reveal shows this point off with one picture in Forza 6 running at 4K resolution with only using 66.02 percent of the consoles power in an unoptimized piece of code. Even if you want to head over to the PC side which is neutral space. It won’t matter if you own a PC and PS4 or PC and Xbox One. The Xbox Scorpio is still a worthy console to purchase. That is simply amazing, and bodes well for what developers will do and have access to in the power of the Xbox Project Scorpio . Well played Microsoft, well played.