In the wake of the recent Sony PlayStation Meeting where the company officially unveiled the PS4 Pro (previously Neo), gamers are left with a difficult decision to make this holiday season: to upgrade to the PS4 Pro this year or wait until next year for the Xbox Project Scorpio (official name TBA).
With the year-long gap between the two releases, it’s conceivable that some consumers could shell out the money for both; however, given the cost of extras such as games, accessories, and online subscriptions, it’s unlikely for most players. Little is currently known about the Scorpio, but Microsoft seems committed to providing as many details as possible at this early stage to convince gamers to hold off until next year. What we do know is that both consoles promise 4K and HDR gaming, virtual reality, 4K streaming, and compatibility with all current games and peripherals; neither represents a new console generation, but rather a “mid-cycle upgrade”. So how does one choose between the two? To help you make that decision, we have compiled a list of the five fast facts you need to know regarding PlayStation 4 Pro vs. Xbox Project Scorpio.
PlayStation 4 Pro is scheduled to release on November 10, 2016. Xbox Scorpio has no exact release date as of yet, but is slated for “holiday 2017”. We will keep you apprised of Xbox Scorpio details as they arise, so stay tuned to Heavy.com for that and all your gaming news.
1. All First-Party Project Scorpio Titles Will Be Natively Rendered at 4K
In a recent interview with USA Today, Microsoft Studios Publishing General Manager Shannon Loftis said, “Any games we’re making that we’re launching in the Scorpio time frame, we’re making sure they can natively render at 4K.” Of course, this only refers to Microsoft titles specifically; the company can’t speak to what third-party developers will do. They may rely on upscaling to 4K, but this will still be an improvement visually over standard Xbox One games.
The PS4 Pro, on the other hand, will instead upscale most games to fit 4K TVs, which is one reason consumers are dubious of the company’s 4K claims. Many have accused Sony of being misleading on this point, but Sony’s Andrew House insists that the two methods are effectively the same. In an interview with DigitalSpy, he stated, “it’s a question of whether people see a demonstrable difference in the game experience or not, rather than the term we use to apply to it.” So, while there may be a noticeable visual improvement over standard 1080p, most games will not run in true 4K; it sounds as though Sony is just throwing this hot term around and relying on consumers not knowing the difference.
Engadget doubts that either console will be able to consistently deliver on their promise of 4K gaming, and details why here.
2. Project Scorpio is Expected to Be More Powerful
For the most part, Microsoft has not released any official specs for the Xbox Scorpio as of yet, but they are consistently referring to it as “the most powerful console ever”. They have revealed that it will have 6 teraflops of graphical power (if you’re wondering what a teraflop is exactly, see Digital Foundry’s explanation), and claim that it will be “the first and only console to enable true 4K gaming and hi-fidelity VR”. This is undoubtedly a jab at the PS4 pro, which many analysts have asserted will not be able to run true 4K with the officially stated specs. Andrew House’s comment that “the majority [of games] will be upscaled – at least based on the game portfolio I have seen to date” seems to at least partially confirm this.
Beyond that, little is currently known about the new console’s hardware. We will update with information about the specs as they become available; in the meantime, see GameSpot’s detailed spec comparison chart for all the current gen consoles, including the official PS4 Pro specs.
3. The PS4 Pro Releases a Year Earlier
Right now, it looks like the biggest advantage going for the PS4 Pro is the fact that it will hit the market at least a year ahead of Project Scorpio. There may be a lot of patient gamers out there, but undoubtedly some will be itching to get their hands on 4K gaming as soon as possible. Microsoft isn’t worried, however.
It’s unusual for a console to be announced so early, but Microsoft had a couple reasons for doing this, as Marketing Head Aaron Greenburg explained in an interview GameSpot during E3. It’s a risky venture for sure, as it could hurt current Xbox One or Xbox One S sales because gamers that haven’t yet purchased one may decide to wait for more details about the Scorpio. One of these reasons, however, is to help consumers make an informed decision. With the recent unveiling of the PS4 Pro (previously codenamed Neo) and the release date of said console looming on the horizon, Microsoft wants Xbox gamers to know that their own Pro offering is coming before they defect to PlayStation, as well as help them decide whether or not to invest in an Xbox One S. They also want developers to have as much notice as possible so that they can take full advantage of the new technology when it releases next year. Xbox chief Phil Spencer said at E3 (via The Verge):
It’s crazy to announce something this early. But when I put myself in the shoes of our customer, I want to be able to make a choice on what console I want to buy with as much information as possible. We want to give you the information to make that decision. We also want to go talk to the developers that are out there today, that are building games for next holiday, and say here’s what you’re going to have at your disposal on the console side.
4. Both Will Be Compatible With VR
In addition to 4K gaming, it is the aim of both consoles to deliver a high-end virtual-reality experience as well. Obviously, the PS4 Pro will be compatible with the company’s own PlayStation VR headset. However, PSVR will also be compatible with the standard PS4, and as Forbes pointed out, this may hurt the company this holiday season. With both pieces of hardware releasing within a month of each other (PSVR on October 13 and PS4 Pro on November 10) and each sporting a price tag of $400, many gamers will be forced to choose between the two. It’s true that some may be willing to drop the $800, but this will probably not be feasible for the majority of consumers, especially right before the holidays.
Microsoft’s disadvantage here is that they don’t have their own VR headset, nor have they officially announced a VR partner. Most are assuming that they will partner with Oculus Rift based on previous dealings (if they haven’t done so already), but the company has so far refused to confirm anything in that department. Phil Spencer did confirm at E3, however, that it “is built with the hardware capabilities to support the high-end VR that you see happening in the PC space today” and “having something at six teraflops that will get millions of people buying it is very attractive to some of the VR companies that are out there already”.
5. Project Scorpio Will Likely Be More Expensive
The other major advantage that PS4 Pro has is (likely) its price tag. Although no official price details have been released, there has been much speculation based on what we do know about the hardware. Analysts believe that the company will be hard-pressed to deliver the kind of power they are promising at a lower price point than the PS4 Pro. Also, given the fact that they have boasted the Xbox Scorpio’s superiority over the PS4 Pro in every other way but have been silent regarding the price, we can probably safely infer that it will cost more. Vague comments from Aaron Greenburg seem to confirm this as well; when asked in an interview if he could give a price range, he told Dualshockers:
Well, we think about it as a premium product. From that standpoint, it is going to be a very high-end product. With that said, we’re not talking at all about any more details about that, but what I can tell you is that what’s exciting for me is that the fact that we can tell people now “we’re gonna bring a whole new console, with a whole new set of capabilities” and be able to innovate with the hardware without sacrificing compatibility, is something that really hasn’t been done before in the console space.
He also pointed out, “Today 4K gaming exists on the PC, with people who spend a lot of money on super high-end PCs with a wide variety of specs.” This really sounds like he’s trying to soften the blow for when they do finally announce the price. Don’t expect it to cost as much as a high-end gaming PC, though; senior director of product management Albert Panello told Polygon, “We know it’s important to deliver an experience that demonstrates the power gap between [the PS4 Pro and Scorpio] at a price that makes sense to console gamers.” Digital Foundry ran a detailed spec analysis based on what we do know and stated that they would not be surprised to see the console priced at up to $100 more than the PS4 Pro. It should be noted, however, that the Xbox One initially retailed for $499 with Kinect included.
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