It’s funny how things change in the world of video games. It wasn’t that long ago Nintendo was the company with the unclear future. The Wii U has been a disaster, the 3DS is looking old, and we didn’t know what the NX was. Now we know about the Switch and Nintendo has a plan that looks at the very least “promising.” Then there’s Sony, which has the PS4 Pro to tide us over until the inevitable PlayStation 5.
As for Microsoft? They don’t know what happens after Project Scorpio.
Project Scorpio is basically Microsoft’s version of the PS4 Pro, only it won’t arrive until late 2017 and promises to be “the most powerful console ever.” Even so, it will remain compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox One S and there’s no plans to create Scorpio exclusive games. So it technicall isn’t a new generation, it’s a mid-generation hardware refresh.
After Scorpio has been on the market a few years you’d expect an Xbox Two to be announced, but Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, admits there’s actually no plan. Nobody on the Xbox team knows what will follow Scorpio because they don’t know what consumers want next. It is being thought about, but the question isn’t how much more performance can be offered, it’s “Can we hit something that has a meaningful performance characteristic that a gamer would care about?”
The Nintendo Switch likely has a hand in Spencer’s thinking here. Switch is not a high performance machine, it’s a hybrid tablet/console that targets 720p/1080p not 4K. If it’s a huge hit like the Wii was, then that could change the course of what Microsoft, and indeed what Sony chooses to do next.
2017 is the year of Nintendo Switch, PS4 Pro, and Project Scorpio. Beyond that, what we call a games console could be a very different offering and no longer just a box that costs under $500 and sits under your TV for its entire life.