Microsoft is at a critical juncture. If rumors are correct, we’re less than six months away from Project Scorpio, the company’s powerful 4K gaming machine. Meanwhile, Microsoft has all but lost the current generation to the PS4, with Sony’s console selling almost double that of the Xbox One. To make matters worse, the company has almost no announced games on the horizon, with only Rare’s Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3 to look forward to. Currently, there’s very little reason to buy an Xbox One over a PS4, and Microsoft desperately needs to shift that paradigm. Thankfully, Microsoft has the element of surprise, with virtually none of their announcements having leaked beforehand. Still, they’ll need an explosive, shocking show to have a puncher’s chance.
Scorpio, Scorpio, Scorpio: Microsoft’s new gaming box will be the focus of the show, and we can expect a final name, price, and release date to be announced. To compete with the PS4 Pro, it’s likely Microsoft will target a $399 or $499 price point for the Scorpio, with a release in late 2017. I also expect the Scorpio to be named in a bold way, even implying a new “generation.” Xbox Two anyone?
Crackdown 3 out in 2017, Sea of Thieves pushed to 2018: It’s hard to believe, but Crackdown 3 was announced three years ago. During that time, we’ve seen almost no news on the game, and it’s starting to look strange. I fully expect Crackdown 3 to have a huge presence in Microsoft’s presentation, with the company using the game to demonstrate the power of the Scorpio (no more cloud necessary– everything is computed locally, etc.). Likewise, Sea of Thieves was announced two years ago and is in dire need of a release date, though word out of the closed alpha is that the game, while fun, lacks content and polish. I expect the game to be released in early 2018.
VR?: This one could go either way, but it’s more unlikely than not. Though Microsoft has been rumored to be working with Oculus to make the Rift Xbox-compatible, and more recently, reportedly developing their own VR/AR headset (and Scorpio’s specs imply it’s perfectly capable of handling the taxing technology), the company has also frequently criticized the current state of VR gaming. Sony isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with PSVR sales, but the headset has remained a solid performer for the company, boasting almost a million unit sales back in February, and it remains a value-add for the PlayStation 4. If Microsoft announces a VR headset, or even VR compatibility, it will have to be careful to not muddy its message.
Halo stuff: 343i, the developers of Halo, have already thrown cold water on the idea of Halo 6 being announced at this year’s show, but did tease that something “Halo-related” would appear. What could that be? Either Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC, DLC for Halo Wars 2, or Halo 5 getting the PC treatment. My money is on Master Chief Collection.
New Dashboard: If there’s been one consistent criticism of the Xbox one, it’s the user interface. It’s become increasingly cluttered with new features and seems to get slower with each passing day. The Scorpio is a fresh start-- the perfect time to introduce a new front-end.
Forza Motorsport 7: Forza Motorsport 7 will undoubtedly have a big presence on Microsoft’s stage. The company will use the game to stress the power of the Scorpio, showing off more gorgeous 4K gameplay. Microsoft will also likely announce FM7 as its headline Scorpio launch title, with a late-2017 release date.
Those are our predictions. What about yours? Let us know in the comments below!
In 2013, Brian combined his love of video games and passion for writing to create Games Under Pressure, a gaming website, based in Milwaukee, that focuses on both console and ultra-high-end PC gaming.