Next Gen is coming. The team at Xbox announced that Project Scarlett would be coming Holiday 2020, and a few weeks ago Sony officially announced that the PlayStation 5 will be out around the same time.
We don’t know much about either console yet, but Sony has been dripping information out over the past few months, while Microsoft has been pretty quiet since E3.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Project Scarlett, and there’s a few questions I have and want to answer.
1. When will we know more?
Xbox has been pretty tight lipped about Project Scarlett ever since they unveiled it 4 months ago at E3. Their early messaging on the box seems to be that the box is built to play games, a complete turn around from the All in One entertainment system that the Xbox One was initially marketed as.
X019 is next month, which is Xbox’s now annual celebration of the Xbox brand. There are sure to be announcements about the Xbox, but it’s currently unclear if they will have anything new on Scarlett.
Xbox needs to nail the marketing and pre launch of their new console. The Xbox One was a failure in comparison to the 360 sales wise in large part to bad word of mouth that took years for Microsoft to distance themselves from.
There was so much confusion around the Xbox One that it was clouded by it for years.
Ever since Phil Spencer took over about 5 years ago, the brand has steadies and Xbox goes into next gen with a strong plan. They have more than a dozen first part studios, best in the business services like Game Pass, and a strong leadership group.
I’m sure Xbox has a plan in place on when to unveil new information, I’m just very curious what that plan is.
2. What’s the name of the box?
The Xbox has had 3 primary consoles; Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Xbox has not had any conventional name for their console, like PlayStation 1, 2, 3 etc. The original Xbox was just called… The Xbox, because it was the first one. The Xbox One was called the Xbox One because it was marketed as the all in one entertainment system.
So for Project Scarlett, what will Xbox decide to name it’s new console? Just simply naming it “Xbox” would make sense. After a generation that disappointed in comparison to the 360, it would make sense for the team at Xbox to want to reboot and simply call it Xbox. No confusion, no gimmicky name, just the Xbox.
But, Microsoft has a history of having weird names. Remember when Windows jumped from Windows 8 to 10?
I could see something along the lines of Xbox Infinite or Xbox Infinity. It would match with Halo Infinite, has a nice ring to it, and you could use the infinite symbol as a nice image for the console.
Maybe have a marketing slogan along the lines of “A console with Infinite possibilities.” Feel free to steal that one Microsoft!
Anyways, there’s a lot of different directions Xbox can go with their naming scheme. Maybe they just name it Xbox 5 to finally be on par naming wise with PlayStation. The Xbox One X could technically be called Xbox’s 4th console, so it would make some sense.
The name isn’t everything, but having a strong name can help with the marketing of the console. It should be something simple and straight to the point. Easy to remember, something that is catchy.
Having a name that makes sense and tells the customer what the console does just by the name is incredibly straight forward but also crucial. You don’t have to follow the gaming industry to understand that the PlayStation 5 is a newer console than the PlayStation 4.
Nintendo has had an up and down history in terms of success and names, but their most recent console the Nintendo Switch is a massive success, and the console is explained by the name.
The Wii U didn’t succeed like the Wii did, for example, and I honestly believe the name was a part of it.
If I went up to a random person who didn’t follow the gaming industry and I asked them if the Wii U was a different console than the Wii, what would they say?
There’s a good chance that person would think it’s the same or similar console. The Wii U didn’t fail strictly because of the name, but having what was sure to be a large percentage of the consumer base confused out the gate certainly didn’t help.
So while the name isn’t the end all be all of the new Xbox, having a strong name can help with marketing, and can help the console come out of the gates strong.
3. What will the price be ?
There seems to be a consensus that the next gen consoles will be either $399 or $499. The Xbox One launched at $100 more than the PS4, and is one of the many reasons the Xbox fell behind.
This is the hardest thing about the Xbox to predict honestly, but no matter what the price is, it absolutely cannot be more than the PS5. Like I said earlier, Xbox has to nail the marketing and pre launch of the console.
Being more expensive than the competition, even if the new Xbox comes with a few more features, immediately puts the console at a disadvantage. Price is everything. The Nintendo Switch is sold for $299 and is flying off the shelves, the recently released Switch lite is $199. The PS4 launched at $399 and was more powerful than the Xbox One which launched at $499. Price matters. A lot.
The Xbox needs to either match the PlayStation 5 or be cheaper than it. It can’t be more expensive, even if it ends up being more powerful. Price can make or break a launch, and the Xbox needs to nail it.
4. Will Xbox do everything possible to make sure they have the most powerful console?
The Xbox One famously launched as a less powerful, more expensive counterpart to its competition. I already talked about how important price is, but power is something that can’t be taken for granted.
The Xbox One X launched in later 2017 and became the most powerful console ever made. While PlayStation launched the PS4 Pro, a similarly powerful console, it simply didn’t have the raw power that the One X did.
In fairness, the One X launched at $100 more, so more power was to be expected.
Microsoft has been able to claim over the past few years that they have the most powerful console, and all third party games (for the most part) play better on their system.
I wonder if Microsoft still wants to hold that claim? Is being the best place to play third party games on a console still something that they care about?
They seem to be sticking to the idea that they want Xbox to be the best console on the market, so if that’s the case wouldn’t they want to make sure that they have the best console in terms of raw power?
At this point I honestly don’t know, and I’m very curious to see how they message the box. Will it be the best place to play games like the Xbox One X? We’ll just have to wait and see.