Xbox Will Rise Again

Whoever you ask, most will agree that this generation has not been kind to Microsoft’s Xbox One. The problems started pre-launch, with some invasive sounding anti-gamer DRM policies and mixed messaging establishing a decidedly negative tone early on. Sony successfully managed to capitalise on this build-up of ill will towards the Xbox brand, and on the battlefield that was E3 2013 when both next-gen consoles were truly put on display, Sony emerged a clear victor; their machine was more powerful, their messaging was clearer and more direct, and most importantly their focus appeared to be squarely on the gamer. Microsoft on the other hand was attempting to diversify by introducing the Xbox One (whose name was also quite baffling) as a multimedia machine that would not only play games but could also take the place of a set top box. This is fine in principle, but by trying to appeal to a wider audience they appeared to be leaving gamers in the cold. Yes, I could finally watch the latest match of American handegg but what about the games man?!

This is a decidedly different picture from last-gen, where the Xbox 360 in my opinion reigned supreme. While this is of course a contentious claim and highly subjective, personally when I think of the thousands of hours I spent with my 360 it brings a smile to my face, whereas when I think about my fat boy PS3 I get phantom hand cramps and horrifying flashbacks of Uncharted 2 and 3 disappointment. I did appreciate some of Sony’s other exclusives though, particularly the God of War series and the utterly brilliant The Last of Us, but at the end of the day Xbox was my main jam. One major factor was the PS3 controller, an uncomfortably small and ridiculous device that was seemingly designed to be as terrible as possible for first-person shooters in particular. While it wasn’t all bad news, the PS3 was by far the least favourite of my console children.

Sony has completely changed the playing field this generation, managing to manoeuvre its console well out in front of its arch nemesis by a confident margin. It has sold vastly more units, and much like the 360 last gen, PS4 is now the best place to play multiplatform releases. Most multiplats run slightly better on PS4 compared to Xbox One, plus the player base is generally larger on Sony’s console making it more often than not the superior choice. Importantly, the controller is also much improved, with a slew of common sense changes such as having proper triggers and concave thumbsticks as well as an overall larger size and more solid feel. While I’ve never claimed sole allegiance to a console since my unfortunate days as a Sega Megadrive fanboy, the truth is that the majority of my time is spent with my PS4 while my Xbox stares disconsolately at me waiting for me to say those two magic words: “Xbox On.”

Perhaps the most telling sign of PS4 dominance (in case you’re not convinced) is the Call of Duty franchise jumping ship from Microsoft to Sony (in the odd practice of timed DLC exclusivity). While I can imagine that sentence will elicit much rolling of the eyes from gamers who have long washed their hands of CoD, I still believe it to be a good general indication of the status of the current-gen consoles. I have previously made the argument that Sony appears to be resting on their laurels this generation though, and their current stable of quality AAA exclusives (in the West at least) is not altogether impressive. Personally I think Bloodborne and Uncharted 4 are the standouts, but the rest have been… thoroughly average. Of course it will come down to personal taste, but I believe that Xbox’s underdog status has spurred Microsoft to try harder with their exclusives in order to entice players to embrace their brand. Ryse, Dead Rising 3, Halo 5, Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive and Titanfall (one of the best FPS to grace any console) are all memorable AAA titles that aren’t available on PS4 (I’ve avoided labelling them exclusive as some are available on PC).

As is the way with these things though the battle lines are again set to be redrawn, with both major console companies poised to release their mysterious mid-gen upgrades. These consoles will support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and allow streaming of 4K content (if you have a TV that supports it and aren’t relying on Australia’s tin-can-and-string internet infrastructure). They will also feature more powerful hardware that will apparently enable native 4K output, although given their specs many are dubious of this being possible at an acceptable frame rate in the absence of other graphical compromises. Xbox got the jump on PS4 when they unveiled Project Scorpio at this year’s E3, and it was definitely the highlight of the fairly lacklustre MS press conference. Still, compared to the Xbox One the Scorpio looks to be an absolute beast, even able to (currently) stand toe-to-toe with high-end gaming PCs. Of course PCs have an open, modular design and evolve at an incredible rate that consoles’ closed systems can’t hope to match, and it’s more than possible that the Scorpio won’t look quite as mighty next to PCs when it finally releases in 2017. One thing’s for sure though, it’s going to be much more powerful than the PS4 Pro in terms of raw GPU power and memory bandwidth. How much this means in terms of tangible differences across the two rival consoles is a matter for debate, but as we’ve seen with the ongoing PS4 vs Xbox One war, perception is everything. If you have the option of buying/playing a more powerful console that runs games with greater graphical detail and at higher resolution with a more stable frame rate, which would you choose? The PS4 for the most part has been the obvious choice so far this generation (even if the improvements are fairly minor), but the Scorpio will most likely shake this up considerably.

This power of perception is no more evident than in observing that the PS4 Pro is being directly compared by the gaming masses to the Xbox One S. The fact remains that despite the Xbox One S’s much lower specs (it’s about four times less powerful than the Pro and is more or less equivalent to the power of the vanilla Xbox One), it still has more features than the Pro, specifically in its ability to play 4K Blu-rays. I imagine most people arguing about this odd omission on the Internet don’t even own a 4K Blu-ray disc and probably don’t plan to start a collection, but that’s not the point. We’re talking about the power of perception, and what some see in the PS4 Pro is a console that is supposed to be superior but can’t do as many things as a weaker, better looking, smaller and cheaper rival console.

There’s more questions than answers at this point and we certainly don’t know the full extent of what these machines will be capable of or what their presence signifies. What sort of real differences will we see in graphics between the mid-gen consoles? It has already been stated that neither the Scorpio nor Pro will have exclusives so what compromises will have to be made to make sure that games run optimally across both original and upgraded models? Perhaps new console titles will embrace the style of PC game design where sacrifices can be made between graphical detail (like shadow/lighting detail and anti-aliasing), resolution and frame rate. Probably one of the more exciting bits of Xbox messaging that’s trickling down is the fact that MS are keen on a future that frees itself from the prison of console generations. This would seem to mean that they may be able to keep the advantages of console gaming while still offering those interested the ability to freely swap out components to boost overall performance. The logistics and consequences of such a bold move are unknown quantities, but it’s an interesting concept that might go some of the way to future proofing the console gaming model.

I for one believe that Xbox have stumbled this gen, but they are certainly not down for the count. Sony have proven themselves a more than worthy opponent, and one that perhaps MS initially underestimated. But MS have proven in the past that they are forward thinkers who are willing to take risks, push boundaries and shake up the status quo. This is evident in their push for true quality online multiplayer with the OG Xbox, the introduction of things like achievements (a practice that was then adopted by Sony in the form of trophies), their desire to foster cross-play with PC and PS4 (something Sony have refused to commit to) and the fact they are getting behind mods for popular titles such as the ever-popular Elder Scrolls and Fallout series (something Sony also won’t commit to). With this in mind I believe Xbox will rise again, and Sony may once again find themselves on the back foot. Sony of course will continue to dominate the Japanese market, but they’ve also put of lot of eggs in their VR basket. If VR flops (and there’s a chance it will) then where does this leave them? The good news in all of this is that competition breeds excellence, and the only people who are 100% guaranteed to profit from this are the gamers. So for the moment I’m content to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch the sparks fly. When the dust settles I’ll do what I’ve always done: I’ll go where the games are.


Kieran is a consummate troll and outspoken detractor of the Uncharted series. He once fought a bear in the Alaskan wilderness while on a spirit quest and has a PhD in organic synthetic chemistry XBL: Shadow0fTheDog PSN: H8_Kill_Destroy
  • Rolenade

    No one but the die-hard fanboys who prowl around the comment areas actually thinks PS4 Plus is a good idea right now. Its been 3 years….only 3 years. At least Scorpio is 4, the same as original XBox to 360. And there is a substantial boost in power that will get most people’s attention.

    I was someone who told myself that I would get a PS4 Neo due to Battlefield 1. And I still likely will, but this PS4 Plus is a bit of a half-assed effort. As of right now, the value is lacking in upgrading. If you are a hardcore gamer and bought a PS4 at launch then it set you back 400 (plus tax). This is another 400 in 3 years. Subtract a little over 100 for a trade in and you are looking at 700. Is this upgrade worth it compared to how its done on PC? Not really. We are paying 300 for a slightly more powerful graphics card and an overclock on the CPU. For hardcore gamers (already owning a PS4), the PS4 Plus is almost a waste of money from a value perspective.

    I was excited for Neo at first. Now I am more flat and feel like this is a mundane update. Sony says its to stop some of their gamers from going to PC, but the power upgrade is not substantial enough to warrant the money for most gamers. 300 (plus tax) for the modest GPU boost? If Sony is targeting hardcore gamers then this thing is a rip off. Its best for gamers who haven’t bought at a PS4 yet and that goes against the idea that Sony is targeting its most hardcore of gamers.

    Upon thinking about it, this thing is totally pointless. The only reason it exists is for VR right now to give the platform something better than PS3-level graphics, which mainstream consumers will shrug off. Sony made a huge blunder here. They had momentum. All they had to do was wait one more year. One more year makes a big difference for both power and value to the consumer. The original PS4 still has gas in the tank. There was no reason to rush out this half-assed PS4 Plus in 3 short years. The power is lacking.

    • kevin

      Lol Xbox is selling you a next Gen console already which they haven’t even ruled out if it will have its own exclusives while most likely being expensive and you’re complaining about an optional console in the pro that offers twice the power of the og ps4 for the same price of the launch ps4 that has already said it wont have it’s own exclusives yeah that’s makes sense. I own both consoles and I’m Def getting the pro because Sony showed the support these last three years while I’m not worried about upgrading my x1 because Microsoft hasn’t. Halo 5 bar the mp was a disappointment,sunset overdrive was awesome but no one bought it and titanfall was awesome with an extreme lack of content and it’s sequel will be on ps4 so it doesn’t really matter anymore. Sony has two exclusives sitting at 90 plus on metacritic with uc4 and bloodborne compared to Microsofts zero while having other well scoring games like ratchet and clank,gravity rush,valkryia chronicles,infamous second son,mlb the show etc.

      • Rolenade

        The Scorpio actually has a purpose and isn’t releasing too prematurely. Sony could have waited a year and put out a much better piece of hardware, but for some reason they want to push it out this year. Why? No real reason. 3 years is ridiculous and now we are stuck with a very modest upgrade that doesn’t have as much value as it could. I’m still going to get it for Battlefield 1, but I don’t feel excited anymore. This feels like a choir. P.S. I don’t like Halo’s direction either and I play all games on PS4 instead of XBox One. My XBox One is collecting dust because I don’t like Halo 5. But stop talking about exclusives like its fact. Exclusives on XBox 360 routinely outsold PS3 exclusives. Look up the numbers. This generation so far? I liked The Order (unpopular by many, but picked it up on sale), Bloodbourne and Uncharted, but the past is there past. Waiting to play Until Dawn until closer to Halloween. Lets see what happens moving forward.

      • Kelarth

        Sonys exclusives are very weak and the only 2 that matter are Uncharted 4 and Bloodborne. That doesn’t say much. So stop with the silly PS worship the PS2 days are long gone if you want exclusives go PC.

        You come off as some PS fanboy. Xbox has just as many big AAA games as PS if not more and being exclusive does not mean better.

  • kevin

    Oh I love the writer calling uc 2 and 3 disappointments lol one game that’s considered one of the best ever made with a metascore of 96 and the other with its metascore of 93 but their somehow disappointments

    • Zarbor

      UC 1 = Great
      UC 2 = Not so great
      UC 3 = Sucked
      UC 4 = Great

      • kevin

        Lol a game considered one of the best of all time in uc 2 with a 96 metascore is not great lol troll some more. Oh and uc 3 with its numerous goty awards and 93 metascore sucked yeah okay that sounds right. Their your opinions so whatever but my opinion is you have some horrible taste in gaming that or you’re a hipster


    with Phil Spencer as the head of Xbox, they will reclaim top dog

    • Marty8370

      LOL, fanbots are deluded

    • J.j. Barrington

      Reclaim something they never had? Interesting. Can’t wait to see how they do it.

  • HAppY_KrAToS

    “Whoever you ask, most will agree that this generation has not been kind to Microsoft’s Xbox One”

    After this, i almost lost all respect for the article and author.

    Just in case you don’t know, sony has been murdered by the US press, since the ps3.

    Millions of doom and gloom articles, asking people not to buy this or that sony console.
    How many thousands articles ‘why sony’s xxxx console will flop.’ ?
    All the US naturally praising their national product, while shi tting on anything from sony.
    Very few websites reporting the rrod issues, just to not let gamers buy a much more solid ps3.
    Sites like lens of truth always trying to spot that bad texture on the ps3 version, just to give it a lower score.
    Sites like games pot or i gn, read and seen by dozens millions gamers and parents, giving higher scores to the x360 version, just because ‘they preferred playing with the x360 controller’.
    The US press totally fine and happy with the policies signed by most companies, that forced devs to spend more time on the x360 version.
    Etc etc.

    with the ps4, the US press gave higher scores to the x1, because of some kinekt2 and vcr/tv features, and because, again, why would they give a higher score to a foreign console…when everybody knew, and knows today, that the ps4 was and is far superior.
    why all those websites stopped making separate ps4/x1 reviews? Ohhh, let me guess, they wanted to avoid the situation where the ps4 would always get a superior score, thus making millions of gamers go and buy a ps4.
    That press kept on reporting all the BS they could, like cloud processing, dx12, hidden gpu, and other special sauces, just to keep people buying the x1, under ‘promises’ of some future incredible games and tech.
    where are the games that use the famous cloud computing, that would make the x1 300% faster? Where, ffs?

    still today, if we ask sites like ig n, games pot, poly gon, for bes, etc etc, they will still give a higher score to the x1! Talk about patriotism.

    The ps4 pro will do great, me and my nephew will buy one, and the current ps4 will be a backup, or video player. With some tricks, sony will allow 4k resolution, the same 4k the scorpio is going to do… in about 15 months.
    15 months, in technology and computer parts, are an eternity. Sony will sell another 15-20 millions ps4 pro, in 2017, and they have almost 15 months to prepare a future ps5 console.
    what is crazy, is the fact that, with some hardware tweaks, and light cpu/gpu overclockings, sony almost manages, with an ‘old’ ps4, to reach 70-75% of the total Tflops the scorpio, released 13-15 months later, with hardware and components 2 generations later and much faster, will output.

    If sony can reach 4.2Tflops by using a slightly tweaked ps4, it’s easy to imagine the ps5 will be a 10-12tflops console. Specially when we can see each new console generation, the power is multiplied by 10. It is safe to imagine the ps5 will be at least 10x the 1.8tflops of the ps4.

    and guess what? Just 2 months after the scorpio release, sony will announce , at feb 2017, that the ps5 will be released in november 2017. Why that early? Because the scorpio will definitely be much more powerful than the ps4 pro, its native dx12 and other custom chips, and probably its 128 or 256mb of esram (vs 32mb on x1, that fked up the system and limited its raw output), will make the scorpio 2-2.5 times more powerful than the ps4 pro. And that should be noticed, by much clear textures with less compression, much more advanced light, much higher polygon count, bigger worlds, etc.

    No way sony will leave the scorpio alone in the market, with all that power… just like micros oft couldnt leave the ps4 alone and always #1, with x1 versions always running at lower resolutions or lower framerates. The 10-years cycle is definitely over.the ps4 launched 7 years after the ps3. The hardware is just evolving too fast, to only release a new console 7 years after niv 2013, by 2020. No way. In 2017, new multi core cpus will appear. Vertical components will reach new levels, the same area used today, will allow 3-5 times more components. Gddr5x , by 2017, will be ultra cheap, and its hard to imagine a console with less than 16gb of memory.

    i don’t see sony leaving the scorpio alone, gaining success, with some amazing 4k 60fps games, during 2 years, and shifting tons of ps4 owners who will be willing to have 4k WITH 60fps games.
    sony will do all they can, to release a scorpio+ console, as quickly as they can.
    the ps4 superiority sold over 50 million units in less than 3 years, and with the vr launch, will surely sell another 5-8 mi.lion units the next holiday alone.

    Those 2 times more sold units, sony will not want to lose them, because they will release a scorpio competitor 2 years after the scorpio launch. No. The ps5 will be here faster than we think.

    of course, knowing how the press is, we can already expect 5 million articles about the scorpio, why it will destroy sony, why games will be better, faster, etc.
    the same press, that will be bashing the ps4 pro and its games, just to make it look bad.
    the US press we’re all used to…

  • Marty8370

    LOL, Scorpio is a Xmas/full year off. It’s vapourware/paper specs nothing more.

    PS4/PS4 Pro will rack up huge sales in that time. Price point will kill Scorpio.

  • J.j. Barrington

    Yeah, this is pretty bad. In a lot of ways. But hey, at least I know whose opinion to disregard in the future.

    Thanks for that.

  • ambleThought

    Well Sony did say there is shift to PC mid console life cycle. M$ choose to open up the xbox library to Win10 gamers, Sony is launching the PS4 Pro. Which library you invest in is the only factor imo. I think the ‘Pro’ speaks to gamers who do not game in the M$ ecosystem and are looking for a high end Playstation experience.

  • fllysurfer

    The article is too biased to be taken seriously.

  • dude

    I think MS has a really good chance surpassing Sony this time with Scorpio. I was impressed with the new Xbox One S although I probably won’t get one anytime soon. I definitely won’t be getting the PS4 Pro since I really don’t give a crap about HDR or HDTV visuals, and I’m not impressed with Sony VR.

    • kevin barsi

      So are you saying Sony will not sell another console and xbox is going to sell 40 million scorpions??? Can you tell me any other way they can surpass them??

      • Dude Gamer

        Look. I love the PS4. Superior to XB1. We all know that Sony and MS are trying to get on board with the VR revolution and try and slow PC growth at the same time which is gaining again in popularity. Anything could happen since this isn’t a typical console cycle. I think MS is smarter this launch giving themselves more time.

        • kevin barsi

          I think Ms will do good and close the gap in total sales I just don’t think Sony’s sale are going to slow down enough to get passed I think exclusives are gonna decide the monthly sale leader

  • Jason Mounce

    Xbox never had a ‘Rise’ to prominence. Sony had a falling out due to their arrogance and poor launch of PS3 and it split the camp during the last generation. Even so, Xbox Classic didn’t sell the best when it was out, and Xbox 360 only sold well because it offered everything that PS3 didn’t and it was a compelling purchase because Sony dropped the ball – I’d easily argue if Sony hadn’t dropped the ball? It’d have been a continued trend of Playstation selling the best between the two consoles. PS3 still found a way to outsell Xbox 360 at the end of the race even with a 1 year head-start and a higher price tag and now PS4 is massively outselling Xbox One, where it will never catch up in sales. If Sony continues this trend of playing ahead of the game, and Microsoft always playing Catch-up? Xbox will never go anywhere again.

    Besides, surveys and statistics show that ‘Playstation’ is a brand that is more known and received by the broader audience, which works more in Sony’s favour. If Microsoft can only afford few exclusives, and mostly Timed-exclusives and to butcher their games with Windows 10 integration that many people aren’t too keen on? Microsoft may be shooting their foot a few more times in the coming years.

    • Random guy

      Whose dick tastes better kaz or shu?

      • Jason Mounce

        There are much less vulgar ways to simply tell people how butthurt you are over what I said. Ad hominems don’t make you funny, they make you look foolish.

    • Rolenade

      360 exclusives routinely sold much better than PS3 exclusives. PS3 online was trash for the majority of games and the online communities were incredibly weak. Even to this day, Sony exclusives have very small online communities for games that allow for them to exist. Sorry but this is the truth. PS4 communities have been much stronger than XBox One in multiplatform games because unlike last generation, the PS4 won over all kinds of gamers in general. PS4 has been much better than XBox One so far. All my games are on PS4 and barely on XBox One. But Scorpio is a game-changer. The 1 year doesn’t make a difference because its not a new generation. And the 95% of PS4 owners are not going to upgrade right now because the value is lacking. 300 for a small bump to the GPU and an overclock to the CPU? Value lacking. So the Scorpio hype will overshadow PS4 Plus in a mere months. Why do I trust my view over yours? Because you are a fanboy. I’ve never been a fanboy and have jumped around from NES to Genesis to N64 to PS2.

      • Jason Mounce

        Aye, I was never saying otherwise nor disagreeing with that? “Sony fumbled, Xbox did what Sony should’ve done”, problem is Sony learned – then Xbox somehow fumbled and is still playing catch-up. Why say sorry? Lol

        Depends on how many, or how good trade-in deals are, if people will upgrade. You shouldn’t use a Statistic/percentage without it coming with a source, fyi. ‘95%’ but pulled from? Yer arse. Never use percentages unless it comes from an actual source. No one knows the rate or percentage of success because it hasn’t happened yet.

        My perspective is? Of course, Scorpio can’t ‘overshadow PS4 Plus’ for numerous reasons. Price is one of them, $399 is a great price that is also a business move to put Nintendo and Xbox in a bad position where if Xbox One S is more expensive and ‘slightly stronger’ ? It won’t outsell PS4 Pro. Sorry, that’s just facts right there on how the market is. Secondly? Graphics don’t make or break, so even if and the likeliness that Xbox One S is stronger? It doesn’t make it the better console magically just because you don’t feel that the PS4 Pro is a strong enough leap forward. Lastly, if the Xbox Pro S is weaker than the PS4 Pro? It will bomb. If it sells at the same price or lower than the PS4 Pro but has better hardware? Microsoft still shoots themselves in the foot because they’ll be selling at a loss just to catch-up in sales, but even then. Both consoles will sell greatly during the holiday season. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

        “Why do I trust my view over yours? Because you are a fanboy”

        Then comes the random, groundless ad hominems and personal attacks, so much for mature discussion, you just had to piss the civility down the drain with douchey immaturity. Please tell me, how my post and what I’ve said makes me a Fanboy? Even though everything I said is correct and accurate? Please tell me how you’re not grossly exaggerating, how you’re not pulling stuff from your ass like using a Statistic that has no source such as ‘95% of PS4 Owners aren’t going to upgrade’ – as if you can see into the future?

        Are you calling me a Fanboy simply as a means of Projection? Cause if so, you’re not going to get far. Especially when I can tell you right now that you’re far from right and you’re going to have a hard time convincing anyone I’m a fanboy. I await you to make another response, hopefully one that makes you look less of a fool. Be sure not to use anecdote or ‘Opinions’ and tout it as fact or a statistic next time – or groundlessly label people you’re arguing with as a fanboy simply as a means of random spite, there is never a need for you to turn into a raging child having a tempertantrum and be hostile when no hostility was present before you arrived. You can either discuss things like a grown-up, or you can go to bed without your warm milk.

  • TheNorthFace

    ps4 is 0.4x more powerful than xbox one
    ps4pro is 2x more powerul than ps4
    scorpio is 3x more powerful than ps4

    ms just played chess with sony while sony is still on checkers

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