Microsoft’s Project Scorpio is awesome. It means finally everyone’s a PC gamer

Microsoft Project Scorpio means we're all PC gamers now

The new 4K-capable Xbox has had its big reveal, with the full specs rumoured to be released on Thursday, and I can’t wait. Microsoft’s Project Scorpio is the final nail in the console coffin - like it or not we’re all PC gamers now, revelling in the agony and ecstasy that brings with it.

It’s all about the GPU isn’t it? So make sure you pick the very best graphics card you can afford.

I guess you could have made that point right at the start, when AMD, Sony and Microsoft admitted they were jamming essentially off-the-shelf components into their new gaming bricks to create mini PCs. Mini PCs which struggled to nail reliable 1080p gaming, but PCs nonetheless.

But back then we were still talking about a single console generation, a static design that meant all Xbox Ones and PS4s were identically specced, offering the same experience to each and every one of their owners.

And that’s long been the console ideal; a closed box system that allowed developers to know precisely what hardware they were coding to. It was that knowledge which allowed game creators to squeeze every last drop of performance out of a system. Just look at the incredible stuff devs managed to get out of the Xbox 360 towards the end of its life.

But with both Sony and Microsoft now creating upgraded versions of their respective consoles, and forcing developers to embrace both the low and new high-end of their console stack, the gaming landscape is looking a lot more PC than it ever has before. And I’m not talking about some bullshit conspiracising about a perceived overarching feminist agenda either.

Project Scorpio -

While the full Scorpio specs are still under wraps we do know it’s going to be rocking eight AMD CPU cores, 12GB GDDR5 memory and a GPU that’s capable of running at 6 TFLOPs. We do know they'll be the same sort of low-end Jaguar cores the original Xbox One shipped with and not some sort of low-power Zen-ish variant. We also now know AMD haven't allowed Vega to appear in the Scorpio box either. If Microsoft had gone for either they'd have had to wait to produce such a chip and the price tag for a new Xbox Ultra with a custom Zen/Vega APU would be sky-high.

Still, most console folk didn’t even realise they were slowly becoming PC gamers. Even before the Xbox One and PS4 arrived the groundwork was laid with regular system and game updates, along with day one patches, for the previous generation of consoles.

Now though it’s inescapable. Everyone sitting on a current-gen console will be experiencing the pain all previously high-end GPU owners feel at the announcement of a new card, the pain GTX 1080 owners felt as the GTX 1080 Ti was announced and then once again as the Titan Xp got unveiled. Once they were on the top of the pile, knowing they had it as good as you could get, and then along comes the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio announcements making them feel all inadequate.

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti

It’s not like they won’t still be able to play all the same games, they will. Both Sony and Microsoft are ensuring anyone who develops for the nominally 4K consoles will have to make those titles run on the lower-caste game boxes too. Y’know, like they do with the PC, only they’ll have to be hiding the view distance and nipple shadow complexity sliders from general view.

But still gamers on the straight PS4 or Xbox One will forever know they’re not getting the best experience, not getting the latest third-person cover shooter with as high resolution textures as the Pro/Scorpio peops. And that will hurt.

It matters to console gamers, manufacturers and developers. It’s why GTA V was held back from a PC release for so long; stopping 360 and PS3 players from getting too upset at their comparatively low-fidelity versions, and letting Xbox One and PS4 owners feel like they were the kings of high-res gaming with their re-released iterations… for a brief time at least.

It’s also why Red Dead Redemption 2 will be held back from a PC release for as long as Rockstar can get away with too. It wouldn’t pay to have a glorious updated version for the updated consoles which doesn’t look as good as it does on a high-end PC. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 gang

But it’s something us PC folk have had to deal with all our gaming lives. No matter what rig you’re running someone else will always reply on a forum about some game not running  properly going on about how their god-like machine can run whatever at several thousand frames per second on Ultra Bastard High settings. There’s always some new bit of kit just being released or dangled tantalisingly just out of reach over the horizon, but that's okay, that's just the way things are in PC land.

We’ve all had to learn to make do, and that’s something a large percentage of the console audience - those not swapping their old devices for a new one just to get some upgraded pretties - are going to have to learn too. Because this isn’t the end of the line; I’d be very surprised if there was another start-from-scratch console generation ever again.

Project Scorpio 6TFLOPs of GPU power

AMD will keep making new, faster hardware which is essentially compatible with the stuff already couched in the current Sony and Microsoft boxes. They’re also starting to learn that with iterative hardware updates you get to keep a vast back-catalogue of games too. Buy a new console, but bring all your favourite old games with you. That's a powerful marketing message. 

This is it then, the end-game, the transition is complete. Consoles are now PCs in every regard, from software to hardware to upgrades and from agony to ecstasy. Which is just dandy, they’ll be rocking keyboard and mice soon too...

So, to everybody who kept trotting out the tired “PC gaming is dead” line over the last decade, I’ve got two words for you. We won.

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Belimawr avatarzdupek avatarDave James avatarSantiagoDraco avatarAnakhoresis avatarBraveToaster avatar+2
Belimawr Avatar
1240
7 Months ago

all that to say it's no different to last generation? the PS3 and 360 both seen hardware upgrades going from standard to slim consoles to the point they put an inhibitor in the 360 to allow the new console to play the old games without having to do any software work going back over the game list.

the PS4 and X1 refresh is no different and to the majority of people using 1080 screens (and it is a majority) there are the same minor upgrades as the last generation, the only difference comes if you have a 4K TV. but then the PS4 Pro doesn't have a 4k bluray drive.

as for no new console there will be a new generation in a few years, every generation of consoles since the PS1 has had this same hardware refresh it isn't anything new and to make assumptions it is something new would show a lack of understanding how the console market has worked for the last 20 or so years. each console has a 6 - 7 year life cycle with a half life refresh, so from 2013 to 2016 you have 3 years falling pretty much in line with every generation before.

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Dave James Avatar
459
7 Months ago

This is a completely different kind of hardware update than any console generation has had in the past. The performance uptick from the Scorpio is way ahead of a simple re-engineered Xbox Slim.

I also don't believe that either MS or Sony will start from scratch and completely redesign their console architecture again. Financially now it is too great a risk for either one of them to move too far away from the current PC-based design.

1
Belimawr Avatar
1240
7 Months ago

the entire appeal of consoles is the fact you buy a console you put a disc in and it works, they start blurring those lines they will lose a larger portion of their user base than anything else.

the PS4 is still a multi million unit selling console and still Sony's biggest money maker, it would be suicide for Sony not to force people to buy a new console and in turn sell on the devkits and dev rights to the new system.

Microsoft at the moments is reaping the ill will that came on the back of them trying to go more towards PC with near 100% digital sales and requiring to be online for the software security and locking games to the system, I say they are still suffering as their sales after that aren't even close to the PS4.

yes the systems are doing more yes this generation saw a bigger jump as both firms held back to reduce system costs at launch and at the time 4K was miniscule it's still a relatively niche market. so yeas there is a slightly different upgrade to the last generations, but not if you remember the fact the original version of the 360 didn't even support HDMI.

as I said it is par for the course of the hardware half life refresh.

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Anakhoresis Avatar
606
7 Months ago

The big point isn't just about the hardware, it's that there will be tiered software. The Xbox 360 refresh and the PS3 slim didn't have anything extra enabled (to the best of my knowledge, or at the very least it wasn't very noticeable) for games to utilize. With PS4 Pro and Scorpio, games look noticeably different (beyond just 4k possibility) than with just PS4 and Xbox One because the developers are allowed to enable better graphics on the higher tiers, and lower graphics for the base tiers.

1
Belimawr Avatar
1240
7 Months ago

yes this is a more noticeable change than the previous versions, but it is still just the hardware refresh.

the changes are larger this time as at launch the price of hardware to run at 4k would have pushed the launch price way to high and would have killed sales so both held back rather than cater to a minority at the time with 4k screens.

but in 3 years the hardware prices and the market has changed 4k got more common the hardware to run 4k got way cheaper, so the firms chose to put out 4k, the same as in 2007 after its 2005 launch the 360 finally had HDMI support added.

as for the graphics changes they are roughly the same as using the upscaling on an Nvidia card, some games add a few more particle effects but the difference is still fairly minor.

there will still be a new generation of consoles, it's Sony's biggest money maker and that next generation likely wont see a similar jump unless it comes out running at 4k and there is a jump to 8k early it's life span, that is the only reason it was done this time as there has been a call for 4k support since the PS4 and X1 were announced, so really it's nothing more than a way to do a refresh and know you can sell the same console to the same people again, as why sell something once when you can sell it multiple times? it's pretty much the model the likes of Apple and Samsung have been running on for several years now with phones.

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SantiagoDraco Avatar
1
7 Months ago

It's not "pc gaming" unless it fully supports mouse/keyboard gameplay. Until then it's a console.

1
Anakhoresis Avatar
606
7 Months ago

What about PC games that have been releasing on Steam that don't really support mouse and keyboard? We're getting muddy waters!

2
hfm Avatar
243
7 Months ago

True, aside from certain classes of titles I usually use my XB1 controller if the game fully supports it.

1
Anakhoresis Avatar
606
7 Months ago

Theoretically though, the idea is that it still "just works." As in, plug in a game and play, no worries about having to adjust graphics to get playable framerates or worry about incompatible hardware or if other software running is messing something up.

But then again, that's not the experience with my Xbox One. Now you have to install games when you have them on disc, and oh boy, the bugs. I literally experience more game-breaking bugs playing on my Xbox and my friend's PS4 than on my PC now. Except for Forza Horizon 3, at least, that one was still pretty buggy on PC last I played.

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Jenks Avatar
343
7 Months ago

"Consoles are now PCs in every regard"

You've got a weird definition of what a PC is. When you could add RAM to the N64 which was required for some games but made other games play better, was the N64 a PC? When you could add a CD drive to a Sega Genesis, was it a PC? No. All the substantial differences between PC and Console gaming still exist. Choosing your own hardware, choosing your own software including operating system, being able to manage files, using the peripherals of your choice are all still PC exclusive. Buying it off the shelf for $300 or less, plugging it in, popping a disc in and having it work optimally are still console exclusive.

"I’ve got two words for you. We won."

This is just as false as anyone who says PC gaming is dead. In fact, just think about what the opposite article would look like. Imagine if someone wrote about Steam Machines and Big Picture Mode - and the point they made was that PC's have become consoles, and console gaming won. It's silly.

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zdupek Avatar
1
7 Months ago

What a bunch of graphomanian trash. So much efforts and still 1-3 comments evrytime somone links to another bollocks on this site. To the point.

We , console gamers amateurs of stable platform Won. Now we have more options with hardware but in stable, targeted manner, old software running better. pc holy crusaders Arguments " after so many years yo can buy this for only that instead of console" is knocked out. Now beutyfull console ecosystms will thirve even more through entire cycle of generation to create even more stunning games . There is something for pc gamers too, HW manufacturers will find even more ways to upsell you overpriced hardware. At least yo can whine again about aples vs oranges; " gtx750 for entire gen, 780prepared for dx12 " en much more food for ethusiast who thinks they undersand something besides marketing slides. Thats after the break for signing the petiotion and celebration cuz gamepad support. Thats how console gaming won xd Ohh an console is not a pc despite having similar blocks, go check presentation about hacking ps4, " Pc is 30years of crap, console is clean sheet design" but thats from bright minds and not some media hot take wannabe ... and still few comments.ouch

-2
Dave James Avatar
459
7 Months ago

Oh hey. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It truly is the only real metric for measuring one's own self-worth.

4
BraveToaster Avatar
326
7 Months ago

back in my day trolling was a art

1