For majority of the current console generation, the gap between Microsoft and Sony has been quite extensive. As the Sony’s PlayStation 4 inches closer and closer to their inevitable 100 million units sold mark, Microsoft has been trying to make ground to right the ship with the Xbox brand due to the poor sales performance of the Xbox One. For months now, Microsoft continues to position themselves for a stellar performance in the next console generation, by acquiring and opening a staggering amount of first party studios focused on exclusive titles and continuously improving the consumer-friendly Xbox Game Pass streaming service. With confirmation of the next generation of Xbox hardware in the works at the company’s E3 press conference in June 2018, we have began to get tiny tidbits of info leaking out about what the company has planned next.
Two models of the console have been rumored for months. One of the upcoming Xbox iterations is centered around a traditional console experience with the expected power of such, while the other has a focus on game streaming and a lower price point. Along the same lines as the latter, Microsoft is now reportedly planning to release another new iteration of its current generation console in early 2019, referred to currently as Xbox Project Roma. According to Brad Sams, a reporter for Thurrott.com, a diskless Xbox One is being developed by Microsoft to arrive in early 2019. Players will only be able to download games digitally on the console, but will still have the functions provided in an Xbox One S with a lower price point. What is also interesting is the approach the company is taking with how they will be selling the console, using a method they refer to as ‘digital attachment’. For example, when a consumer goes to Microsoft’s online store and want to purchase the new diskless Xbox One, they will be greeted by a myriad of options. Players can purchases subscription services such as Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass during a single transaction, to then have said services preinstalled and ready to go when they receive their system. One would imagine that games will be able to follow suit in being preinstalled for users during this process, but Sams doesn’t specifically mention if that is the case.
In terms of Xbox’s Project Scarlett, the rumored 2020 release date is still planned as of now, per Sams, but it sounds as though the streaming iteration may have taken a slightly different design approach as many have imagined. Sams continuously refers to the streaming device as a ‘stick’, similar to what you would find in Amazon’s successful line of TV Fire devices. With the announcement of Microsoft’s Project xCloud in October, this supposed decision actually seems to align with Microsoft’s officially known plans. The traditional console in the Project Scarlett line looks to continue Microsoft’s relationship with AMD and their line of CPUs and GPUs, using AMD’s Xen 2 and their upcoming generation of GPUs.
While this information is still to be viewed as a rumor, a lot of the information aligns well with what Microsoft has publicly addressed, so I don’t view it as preposterous. With 2018 nearing its end, and the ‘early 2019’ release window attached to Project Roma, we may be seeing Microsoft officially announce the hardware quite soon.