Microsoft has been struggling in one way or another since spring of 2013. Ever since the rough unveiling of the Xbox One, they’ve been in catch-up mode behind the PlayStation 4. With the impending unveiling of Project Scorpio, Microsoft has a chance to make up some lost ground. Whether or not they can do it is, for the most part, up to them. Here are some ways they could leave a big impression at the show and make it their best one in years.
Some significant new games, finally
Part of what made the Xbox 360 generation so great was the pile of original games, none of which were available anywhere else. Halo and Gears of War were flexing their muscles at full power. Forza was still fresh, and Fable hadn’t yet faltered. Games like Crackdown and Viva Pinata gave the system a unique voice and pulled in all kinds of gamers. Right now, Halo and Gears are huge, but they’re not barnburners anymore. Forza is still trucking along and doing a great job of showing off the system, but it’s not a system seller. Microsoft put a bunch of money behind Alan Wake last gen, and that paid off in critical acclaim if not sales. They went big on Quantum Break from the same developer this time around, only for the game to stumble on its promises.
Microsoft needs some big, flashy new games. They need to show off the Xbox in its best light, both on Scorpio and Xbox One. There are great games lined up, sure, but few are originals or exclusives. Microsoft needs to show some really head-turning stuff.
Scorpio is $399
Scorpio needs to sell like crazy. You can’t simply build it and expect them to come anymore like in years past. Sony’s built up a huge lead, and Microsoft has lost a lot of ground. Doing well isn’t good enough. Microsoft needs a resounding success. One big step in that direction would be an undeniably appealing price for the new system. $399 is the ultimate price point for Scorpio. That’s expensive enough that it would still look premium to gamers and still be pretty fair for Microsoft. I think a $499 price is more likely – this is a beefy system, and it definitely costs a lot to make. $599 would be suicide for the system, even if that’s the value of the hardware. The price is almost as crucial as the games this fall and into spring 2018.
Original Xbox backwards compatibility
This is less of a necessity and more something that would be nice to have: backwards compatibility with the original Xbox console. There are a lot of very cool games for that system, and we’d love to see them playable again. Jet Set Radio Future, Crimson Skies, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Jade Empire, and many more games would once again see the light of day like they deserve, without requiring the development time of a remake. On top of all the access to new games, it’d be yet another feather in Microsoft’s cap of things their system does that Sony’s really doesn’t.
2017 release dates for everything
Even without new games, Microsoft has a lot of potentially great stuff on its plate. State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, the inevitable-but-unannounced Forza Motorsport 7. Every one of those games needs to see a release date this year. Sony’s been pumping out exclusives like crazy this year, and Microsoft needs to show people that there’s a reason to play on Xbox. When Scorpio launches, whether Microsoft goes for a traditional November launch or something a bit earlier, they need a constant string of games available that show off the power of Scorpio and the benefits of the Xbox platform.
Red Dead Redemption 2 headlines the show
Rockstar’s western is going to be huge. It’s also going to be on PlayStation 4 and, maybe, even on PC. But there’s been a rumor floating around that the game may show up at Microsoft’s show. Even though it’s on all those other systems, this could be a huge win for Microsoft. Showing everyone just how good it looks on Scorpio, and how much better that is than anywhere else, would do a lot to connect the game to Microsoft’s system in peoples’ minds. The droves of people just picking up a console for the first time to play it, as they do with Grand Theft Auto V right now, might just think of Xbox first when they’re heading for the register.
Microsoft’s E3 show takes place on Sunday, June 11, starting at 1:30 p.m. PT.