The Xbox Scorpio still looms as the big gaming hardware release for Microsoft in 2017. Xbox Head Phil Spencer is at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco where he sat down for an interview with the IGN Unlocked podcast where he talked about the reveal plans for the console, and VR gaming is just a matter of when.
As previously covered, Microsoft has moved its E3 presentation date back a day and will take place on Sunday, June 11 at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT. Scorpio will be a highly anticipated reveal, but Spencer leaves open the possibility of a separate event for the new console before E3.
"The plans not completely set, just to be honest with you," the Xbox boss said. "I think doing everything at E3 will be difficult. We'll talk more about it as we land on exactly what we are going to go do. I like our E3 show being about games. Clearly we are going to talk about Scopio at E3 but I also don't want to take up the majority of the time doing all things about hardware. There's a balance there. I want it on stage, it's a great opportunity for us."
Meanwhile, developing and building the Scorpio console is progressing well, per Spencer.
"We're ahead of schedule. We got the System on Chip (SOC) back in October. We ported Xbox One platform over in November. Started giving some of our first-party teams alpha hardware, which frankly looks like an erector set, just to start bringing engines over and see stuff running," he explained.
"The industrial design looked pretty final. It looked nice. It looked the way I wanted it to look, there are a couple of things I wanted to fix on it. "
The team that designed Xbox One S is the same team that designed Durango. There will be a family resemblance, but enough change to make it clear that consumers are purchasing something different.
Spencer says he wants to leave it up to the developers on how they use the extra power in the Xbox Scorpio. Many developers are already familiar with developing games for multiple configurations due to PC and expects they will do the same for Scorpio and Xbox One. He doesn't expect you'll see the depth of configuration options you see on PC, however.
The Xbox Scorpio is something Spencer repeatedly refers to as a "premium console" to draw a clear line that this is for the core gamer who cares about things like 4K resolution and HDR lighting, plus has the money to buy these more expensive televisions and monitors. The Xbox One S will be the console for the general market, and he fully expects it to sell more than the Scorpio because of the lower price.
Speaking of price, that is still an area of discussion for Scorpio, but the Xbox Head isn't ready to talk about whether it will come in at the same $400 price point as the PlayStation 4 Pro or higher.
As for Virtual Reality, Spencer still sees this as an area for "innovation and growth," but thinks the Windows platform is the best place for that to happen. Microsoft made a Mixed Reality (MR) software development kit rollout announcement at GDC yesterday for Windows 10 PCs. This blends Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for both games and applications with Microsoft planning to bring MR content to the Xbox One and Scorpio in 2018.
According to Spencer, developers are still figuring out the creative process and are still iterating on techniques for game development for everything from jump distance in platformers to dealing with uneasiness in flight games. This is best done on PCs first, per the Xbox Head.
"Before you bring something to console, I think it's important that it's had its time to find where its creative energy comes from," Spencer explained.
The Xbox Scorpio is expected to launch this fall. What is officially known about is it will sport six teraflops of GPU performance to power 4K gaming and virtual reality gaming. This puts it well ahead of the PS4 Pro's 4.2 teraflops.
What do you think about Spencer's comments on the Xbox Scorpio reveal and VR? Sound off in the comments below.