Has Gen 8 of Consoles Just Begun?

Big news coming off the heels of E3 as Microsoft has dropped a megaton bomb that they are in fact releasing a new console in the 2017 holiday window. Microsoft’s console will be called the Xbox Scorpio, and that bad boy will come packed to the brim with features that cannot be currently found in the pre-existing Xbox One and tech that cannot be found on any home console currently on the market.

Microsoft threw around a lot of technical figures to flex the raw power that the Scorpio will have upon release, including an 8-core CPU, a graphics card with 6 teraflops of power and 320 gigs per second of memory bandwidth. In non tech terms, this simply means the Scorpio will be able to rival top-tier graphics cards of today.

As for what you can do with this behemoth of a motherboard known as the Scorpio? The main draw that Microsoft is advertising are the abilities to play games in Virtual Reality and to have higher quality visuals that are compatible with 4K TV’s. Obviously, having a stronger piece of hardware in itself will allow developers more freedom to create games that may push the boundaries beyond what our current stable of consoles can currently achieve, namely the Xbox One, PS4 and Wii-U. However, hasn’t this motto been what next generation consoles are created to do?

As a matter of fact, the Xbox Scorpio is not the only “new” console being released next year. Sony will be releasing the PS4 Neo and Nintendo will be releasing the NX. All three companies are touting their consoles to be vastly superior in comparison to the ones they currently have on the market. However, with exception of Nintendo, whom of which is being very tight lipped on the NX right now, Sony and Microsoft both stand by the fact that this is still considered to be the same generation of consoles, and games that may be played on the newer iteration of their respective consoles, will still be playable on the older ones as well.

One caveat, however, is that Microsoft execs (and I am sure Sony will follow suit) have stated that they are not going to force developers to develop on both the Xbox One and Scorpio if they feel as though their creativity will be hampered by the limitations of the former as opposed to solely developing on the latter. This could potentially mean that down the line, should the newer iteration of these consoles we currently own sell like hotcakes, we may see some developers opt-in to only create games on the newer hardware. Even if droves of developers don’t do this, you can be assured that a handful of studios are going to potentially release something “game of the year” worthy and it may very well be only on the new systems. While this may seem as though it is years down the road, it may not take too long. All it would take is for games that are released to sell a lot better on the newer consoles than the older ones for developers to begin to see the original ones as unnecessary to waste resources toward.

As gamers, it is imperative that we support developing studios’ choice to make the best product possible, whether that means it’s exclusively on the newest hardware or not. If it were not for the console generation leaps every so often, gaming would undoubtedly become a stagnant medium of entertainment. Therefore, should any studio choose to make the Scorpio, Neo and/or NX the only consoles they develop software for, so be it. We will all buy the new hardware in droves. However, the release of these consoles seem to bring about one of two lingering thoughts. Either the eighth generation of home consoles is just truly beginning, with the original Xbox One, PS4 and Wii-U being stopgaps in between generation 7 & 8, or we are already beginning to head toward gen 9.

It all remains to be seen in the near future.

Jarad Munroe, JCMac120