Sources have told Kotaku that Microsoft is planning to release two new versions of its Xbox One console, one in 2016 and another in 2017.
The reports, which have been corroborated by Polygon’s “own sources”, describe the 2016 model as a slimline version around 40% smaller than the current Xbox One, offering 4K video support and sporting a 2TB hard drive. Polygon’s source describes it as “the smallest Xbox ever made.”
As for the 2017 model, things get a little more interesting. Codenamed Scorpio, it is said to boast a more powerful GPU in the hopes of preventing the slight performance gap seen between the current Xbox One and the Playstation 4. According to Polygon’s sources, the Scorpio is aiming for a performance output of 6 teraflops, which compared to the current Xbox One’s 1.32 teraflops would make it more than four times as powerful.
The increase in performance is also said to allow for the Oculus Rift to be supported by the console.
According to Kotaku’s sources, these two new Xbox One models are part of a new plan by Microsoft to see more frequent, iterative upgrades to their console platforms instead of one major upgrade every five or so years. Games software would be backwards and forwards compatible with all Xbox models as well as PCs running Windows 10, presumably with different graphical qualities depending on your hardware.
Microsoft’s head of Xbox Phil Spencer spoke earlier this year of a future where console hardware iterations were more frequent like in the PC space. “When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen,” he said. “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.”
This news comes two months after rumours of a Playstation 4.5, recently reported to be codenamed Neo, to be arriving possibly before the end of this year. That reveal brought the idea of mid-generation console upgrades to the forefront, and sparked debates as to its merits. I’ve already expressed my concerns with having multiple consoles with differing performance capabilities on the market, mainly because history tells me soon games will be made predominantly for the newer system and the old one will get versions that still run but are terrible, low quality, glitchy messes.
So that will be the deciding factor for me before I completely write this idea off: will the likes of Sony, Microsoft and other developers really commit to their games running in a decent playable state on the older hardware, or will they just run wild with all the new hardware capabilities they now have and design games that leave the previous (though relatively young) console generation limping behind? We shall see, but rumours such as these mean E3 could turn out to be mighty interesting next month.
Stay tuned for more.