About a month ago, some E3 leaks started circulating about Microsoft’s next Xbox console. No details were leaked other than the codename “Scarlett”. However, a recent article by Brad Sams of Thurrot may shine more light on the fourth-generation Xbox, or rather, Xboxes.
According to Sams, Microsoft is planning to release two models of the Scarlett. The first will be the traditional Xbox console we all know and love, but of course with more memory, storage, and CPU power. The second iteration, however, will be drastically different. It will be a streaming console, complete with basic computing abilities like image processing and collision detection.
The streaming device itself would be vastly underpowered for modern games, but in theory that wouldn’t be a problem. Most of the processing power would be offloaded to a Microsoft server through a service that has been tentatively named “Scarlett Cloud.” This doesn’t mean that Scarlett Cloud would be doing all the processing work. Both servers and console hardware could work in tandem — with the servers handling most of the load. According to Sams, Microsoft is hoping that this approach will eliminate any input-lag that would come with internet streaming.
In theory, the less powerful streaming box will be significantly cheaper than a $500 Xbox One X, or even a $300 Xbox One S. This strategy could help Microsoft corral budget-conscious gamers into the Xbox ecosystem. Historically, the Xbox has made most of its profit through subscription-services like Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Gamepass. It only makes sense that Microsoft would want more people to subscribe to those services.
Sams clarified that Scarlett Cloud will run on both the streaming console and traditional, internally-powered Xbox. As he puts it, “both consoles will be first-class citizens and there is not expected to be an awkward ‘this game only runs on the non-cloud Scarlett.’” It’s unclear if the traditional Xbox iteration will require the cloud service to process particularly demanding games, but it should be able handle much more than the streaming console.
With the rumors of a streaming-powered Google Yeti on the horizon, and the rise of services like GeForce Now and PlayStation Now, the industry is moving more and more towards a subscription-model. Streaming is the way of the future, but it also has the capability to split a fanbase. For those with fast internet, the Xbox Scarlett is an exciting promise. The premise of an internet-dependent future may scare gamers in rural areas. Thankfully, Microsoft’s approach of a dual console release will satisfy both parties for now. We’ll just have to wait and see.
What do you think? Do you plan on getting Scarlett when it comes out? Which model would you prefer: the traditional hardware-powered consoled, or the new streaming-powered console? Be sure to let us know!