Xbox Boss Talks Project Scorpio Pricing, Xbox Game Pass, E3 Timing, Cancelling Games, And More

Phil Spencer speaks.

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Xbox boss Phil Spencer appeared on the newest edition of IGN's Unlocked podcast this week where he discussed a lot of interesting topics. In the hour-long conversation, Spencer talks about Microsoft's just-announced Xbox Game Pass, provides an update on Project Scorpio, and explains why Microsoft moved its Xbox E3 briefing this year from Monday morning to Sunday afternoon.

The full interview is incredibly fascinating and well worth a watch if you're interested in learning more about how the Xbox business works. You can watch the entire interview in the video below.

For Xbox Game Pass, which is a digital game subscription service where you can get access to an evolving library of games for $10/month, Spencer said it has been in the works for two or three years. It's taken so long because Microsoft had to get the under-the-hood, technical specifics worked out, while the company also had to sign business deals with third-party publishers.

Spencer also talked about how the Xbox Game Pass library, which will have more than 100 games in it, will not likely see a complete refresh every month. Only a "handful" of games will be added or removed every month. Whether or not a game drops out may come down to a third-party publisher's decision. Spencer said it's important that the games in the library don't feel like trials or demos, and that players can subscribe to the service feeling confident that a game will be there for a long time.

NeoGAF has a roundup of what was said during the talk.

On the subject of Microsoft's E3 switch from Monday to Sunday, Spencer said it was done to help Microsoft's news have more room to breathe. For Project Scorpio, Spencer teased a pre-E3 reveal (though the console will also have an E3 presence of course), but no plans are solidified as of yet. In terms of what the console will look like, Spencer said it will have a "premium" look to it, though it should appear familiar in the Xbox family ecosystem.

"I can't wait to show people what it looks like," Spencer said.

The much-discussed topic of pricing for Project Scorpio also came up. Spencer did not give anything away, but said again that people can expect a "premium" price.

"I call it a premium console because I want people to be clear that the customer we're building that for is the premium gaming customer," Spencer said. "The person who buys the majority of the games, the person who's playing the most games, spending the most hours, spending the most dollars. It's like our Elite controller. I call that a premium controller."

"I'm not trying to scare anybody on the price. We're going to come out on a price that we think is fair for the product that we build and the customers will tell us as they always do. I call it premium because I don't want people to get confused that somehow Scorpio is the thing that is going to take over the Xbox line."

Spencer added that he fully expects that Xbox One S, with its lower relative price point, will sell far better than Project Scorpio.

"The majority of the consoles that we're going to sell are the Xbox One S and I'm very proud of that," he said.

Spencer also discussed Microsoft's controversial decisions to cancel Fable Legends (and close Lionhead) and shut down Scalebound, two high-profile projects.

"When I look at the investment that I want to make in first-party and that the company wants to make in first-party, I think we're in a position where we're going to be able to do some new and interesting things," he said, adding that those decisions will be good for the company in the long run. "And that meant we had to stop doing some other things in order to create room for that. And that's just kind of the nature of running a business."

"One of the things that I wanted to do when I came into this job ... one of the things was our first-party and how I thought about needing to--this is an unfair word, but I'll say 'rework' our first-party. Regretfully, that meant certain things that we were doing, I thought we needed to do something different. It meant getting back to what I think is a core and building from that."

Also during the podcast, Spencer reiterated that Microsoft has no plans to release a dedicated handheld gaming device, though he has a "never say never" attitude about this.

Spencer also talked about how Microsoft has no deal in place with Alan Wake and Quantum Break developer Remedy for a new game and also revealed that the release date for Voodoo Vince will be announced sometime next week.

What are you looking forward to from Microsoft and Xbox this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Avatar image for Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

I think will cost $500.00+ he even says XB1S will sell more.

Will it be worth it? It will have the same games as XB1S, just 4K Rez. To me that is not ground breaking.

Unless you have a 4K TV I just don't see it selling well.

NOW for the future,. In 4-6 years when next gen starts this will be weak in comparison.

Sure this generation is going strong but will either PS4-PRO or XB1S-Scorpio bring in value, capture additional gamers, or make a profit.

Avatar image for PayneKiller
PayneKiller

I did pay 500 for my PS3 80GB back in the day. It was a lot then, still a lot now. But I was sold on the improvements and the whole bluray thing at the time. These days there's nothing "groundbreaking" they're putting out to have me paying that much for a console again.

Avatar image for romulus1000
romulus1000

I a huge xbox fan. My friends tried to lure me to ps4 but I wound have it one thing I would like from Microsoft this year and future years to come is to not exclude south Africa eveytime. Why must we always wait longer for new things to get to us. By the time new consoles get to us they are old already. I wanted to by a xbox slim for myself December but still waiting for it to be released. By the time the rest of the world is playing on project Scorpio we will have to wait another 3 to 6 months beforearlier it's releast by us. So Microsoft please include us.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@romulus1000: You might want to rethink that now that games such as Horizon Zero Dawn are out . It is exceptional on Pro. Took me by surprise actually as it is a slow burn to start of with and i thought ''damn this is just another boring semi open world game with annoying forced missions''.

It opens up into something truly incredible and the animation just has to be see to be believed.

It has really amazing secrets to discover off the beaten path too which i always like in games.

Taking over a machine and riding that mount though is one of my favourite gaming moments in a while :)

You can then use your mount to not only traverse the countryside but also to fight too.

I have an Xbox One S as well by the way and looking forward to seeing what Scorpio offers.

Avatar image for dudebropartyyo
DudeBroPartyYo

@romulus1000: Save up for few months and build a PC. Can play some good Xbox games on it plus thousands more. Shame you cant play PS4 exclusives on PC, Sony kicks ass in that department.

Avatar image for bickle2
Bickle2

It's 399, it will not be any higher, because PlayStation Pro is not any higher. Anyone who thinks it's going to be more expensive for the base model doesn't know what they're talking about. And don't forget, Sony will most certainly drop the PlayStation Pro 50 bucks in response. Any higher torpedoes it being competitive

Avatar image for DIOSNY
DIOSNY

@bickle2: you make some good points but if there's really a visual difference between the Scorpio and The Pro you can be sure it will also reflect on the price. I'm thinking $500 and when you look a the components it makes sense 12GB of ram vs 9GB 6.? T-flops vs 4.2 it adds up.

Avatar image for bickle2
Bickle2

@DIOSNY: Microsoft must stay competitive, and they're the underdog. The number one thing that pushed PS4 ahead, despite the conspiracy theories and knee jerk crap getting more press, was that $100 price difference.

People comparing cost of single purchase commercial releases of GPUs eith built in margins for retail, the OEM and AMD/NVIDIA are comparing apples and oranges. The actual cost of rolling a 1080 off the line is closer to $20 than $200. Microsoft does a buyout on their APU designs so all their paying is fab costs.

Don't use any consumer product as a metric for what things cost buying in the millions for an integrated single component. And yes Thry might take a hit on the thing, but the idea is to bring back the graphics tarts.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@bickle2: Not so with the cost of the 1080. The biggest issue is also whether the board is fully usable. If it's not they generally end up being used for lesser boards but there can be a fair amount of wastage.

Of course the price is set to premium as people will pay it but real cost would still be in excess of $100 for that class of card at least initially.

Scorpio will be good but i hope people aren't expecting performance akin to a 1080 as that is just totally unreasonable to expect that from a console at a set price point.

Avatar image for bickle2
Bickle2

@deviltaz35: Yeah it really is. I'm strictly discussing the raw cost of spinning the chip and tracing the board. No R+D, distribution, overhead, just the board and the chips on it. Which is what is important to this discussion. On a game console that's the number they're looking at.

This is what you need to remember. A game console is the NASCAR version of the PC version that birthed it. It's finely tuned and juiced. It has to be compatible with one hardware configuration and one only. It does not have to run a broad multioperation OS with dozens of programs open at once.

The Scorpio is an Oculus Ready PC configuration (970 equivalent) that will punch well above its weight due to stripped down efficiency, just as X1/PS4 do.

It is a premium over the Xbox One S, count on that hitting $250 with Christmas drops to $200 in rebates or other promotions. Microsoft is relaunching the Xbox brand and they're going for blood in the places Sony can't compete

PSPro has no exclusive abilities that matter. Fake 4k is stupid on either that or Scorpio. If the assets aren't 4k it's not a 4k game, and as exceptionally few people sit close enough to their TV to even resolve 1080p, it's just a silly waste of computing power, especially with perfectly adequate 4k scalers (not in crap televisions and monitors, I'm talking good sets that actually can do HDR, Which if you paid under a grand and it wasn't made by Samsung, Sony or LG it almost certainly can't),

Scorpio can do VR like a PC. That's why it's going to matter 2-3 years down the line. However VR shakes out its going to have the power to make it work. PSVR is a kludge, and while it has a huge install base, it will not do experiences that aren't carefully walled and load balanced. In the meantime don't be shocked in the slightest if Elite Dangerous goes full VR on Xbox. If you've tried it on PC it's awesome.

I don't think for a second the mainstream is dumping $800+ on that setup, but they're selling the here and now of your games looking far and away their best, with an eye on future tech and purchases.

Will it work? Their assets are sound, we'll see how they put their pieces on the board. But $399 is where Scorpio will hit. It's the highest price people will part with in sufficient numbers, and a bunch of those people probably don't have an Xbox One. And they'll walk out of that store with the most powerful piece of hardware on the market and 100+ games (Via free trial period)under their arm. Not bad.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@bickle2: I would agree with you on some games but i think you would get a shock just how good Horizon Zero Dawn looks on a 4k HDR tv. I use a Sony 65inch HDR and it looks beautiful.

Ratchet and Clank looks extremely close to native 4k as well and runs beautifully with HDR.

In all but a couple of cutscenes you would have to look extremely closely at it to see it is not true 4k.

It is upscaling from 1440p in reality which is better than upscaling from 1080p at any rate.

You are talking US dollars lol i live in Australia. The Scorpio will be at least $699 here at launch.

I am keen to see what the Scorpio can do but seeing i can already play first part XBox games on a PC it doesn't interest me in the same way as what Sony will bring out just being honest.

970 like performance , isn't the Scorpio 6 tflops? That is more than a 980ti which i have which is far above a 970 in performance if so.

It will be interesting what they can do with it i agree.

Avatar image for bickle2
Bickle2

@deviltaz35: I agree with you that Scorpio will be rendering most of the games at 1440 P, which is where most AAA games are having their assets produced. That's still a long way from 4K.

I didn't know you were in Australia, all prices quoted are US dollars :-) Australia due to the small size of the market, import taxes, and all the other things definitely has a lot of X factors involved in pricing, and I'm not going to attempt to guess, except that you probably know better than I do

I've seen her

Ive seen Horizon Dan on it, it looks nice, still not 4K. There's a lot of TVs that were offered over Christmas here in the United States that while they technically support HDR, the ability of the panels to actually realize that color profile is little better than an average 1080p

I'm trying to not overestimate. Frankly I expect Microsoft to squeeze every last flop out of it they possibly can without risking thermal overload, which judging by the design of the Xbox one, and the billion dollar repair bill, they become quite conscious self :-)

Avatar image for DIOSNY
DIOSNY

@bickle2: Phil just said the Scorpio is for the hardcore just like the elite controller they're not counting on the Scorpio to be the number one selling console that's the S job. If the pro released at $400 without a 4K BR player 9GB of ram 4.2 T-Flops it's a little unrealistic to expect the Scorpio at $400 with better components I know they buy by the millions and its a year after the pro but we're taking about brand new GPU and CPU with more ram, nobody ever takes into account that Sony only change the GPU on the Pro that and they added 1GB of ram everything else is the same as the standard PS4.

Avatar image for bickle2
Bickle2

@DIOSNY: There is no difference in cost (pennies) in cost making a UHD drive and a regular one. Sony made the pro as cheaply as humanly possible.

RAM is cheap.

They bought an off the shelf design. Again, it's not comparable, and they need to compete. The line is $399.

Microsoft is looking to blow them out of the water in terms of power to even things out more. Again it's apples and oranges. And if you actual,y listened to Phil, he specifically said that he wasn't talking price.

Avatar image for DIOSNY
DIOSNY

@bickle2: I think you need to go listen to the the interview again. He clearly said it's a premium product we don't expect it to be our top selling console that's going to be the Xbox one S.

The purpose of the Scorpio its not to outsell the pro don't get me wrong they'll be happy if it does but it's main purpose is to give the Xbox brand that serious hardcore gaming machine image that they've had lost this gen.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@DIOSNY: I think it is to give an alternative to PC gaming , they are well aware people often choose to use the PC for games that run on both due to the superior graphics and speed. Those that still want the very best graphics and framerates obviously will stick to PC but i can see Scorpio could be very compelling to those that were looking to upgrade to Midrange PC performance.

I just hope people don't expect Scorpio to be 4k 60 in every title as that is unrealistic.

It may offer it in some cases where graphics are not cutting edge though.

Avatar image for bickle2
Bickle2

@DIOSNY: the purpose is always to outsell the competition. You're correct that it's intended to put them back on a path, but Phil is always Captain humble to a fault

Avatar image for metalion
METALION

Premium just flashed up in my head even though this price tag was touted earlier. This time it said £750 to me! ouch.

Avatar image for dudebropartyyo
DudeBroPartyYo

@metalion: Add a bit more on top of that and you got a PC to beat Scorpio and play Xbox exclusives, well the few good ones.

Avatar image for DIOSNY
DIOSNY

Listen if you're a PC gamer the Scorpio is not for you it's for the hardcore console gamer like my self and many others.

Avatar image for dudebropartyyo
DudeBroPartyYo

@DIOSNY: Well few good Xbox exclusives are on Windows 10, so there is no reason for any PC gamer to be interested in Scorpio or Xbox in general. It would be waste of money.

PC gamer owning PS4 makes more sense. Top exclusives from Sony as well. Like as a PC guy i think Sony has had best exclusives since PS1 days. thats just me tho.

Avatar image for DIOSNY
DIOSNY

@dudebropartyyo: That's fine with MS they get your money anyway.

Avatar image for dudebropartyyo
DudeBroPartyYo

@DIOSNY: Yeah thats true but not 500 to 600 when they sell a console and forced accessories you know. Like windows didnt cost me anything. Had my friends "copy" of W7 and MS offered me free W10, so laughing haha

Avatar image for DIOSNY
DIOSNY

@dudebropartyyo: bigger picture my friend

1: Create a ecosystem.

2: Get as many people as you can using your ecosystem.

3: ???

4: Profit.

Lol but if you look at it 3rd party publishers are starting to use the UWP slowly but surely they're going after steam I know it sounds crazy in 2017 but they been there before with the O.G . Xbox and recently with the surface they don't have to be number just a serious contender.

Avatar image for SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

@DIOSNY: Unless you are a PC gamer that wants to play Red Dead Redemption 2 maybe. F'n R* sellouts sleeping with the big guys for "console exclusivity". Actually. I'm very intrigued about Scorpio. It's what "next gen" should have been "last "gen".

Wait, I feel I must counter console fanboy retaliation in advance: The fact that publishers negotiate exclusivity on certain platform(s), does not imply superiority of said platform(s). In reality the opposite is normally true. Exclusivity is negotiated as a business strategy to compensate for some degree of technical inferiority.

Avatar image for dudebropartyyo
DudeBroPartyYo

@SingletreeAve: RDR2 will be on PC

Avatar image for guitarist1980
guitarist1980

@DIOSNY: Your right. Any PC gamer is probably not interested in Scorpio. I mean if the price is within 100-150 dollars that changes things but I think he is crazy. MS is going to launch the Scorpio at 599.99sih... ouch I find it hard to believe anyone would be that excited about it. Unless in the next 6-18 months start releasing and announcing games that people really want.

If your console only it might be a good investment for 3rd party publishers. You will be able to play games at 4k or with better effects.

Avatar image for freeryu
FreeRyu

@DIOSNY: :/

Avatar image for sdzald
sdzald

I don't care if they sell it for 100 bucks, if it doesn't have a good number of games that can take advantage of that power than it is wasted money. May be in a year or two when there are enough good games for it and the price comes down then I will consider one.

Avatar image for spinierblaked
SpinierBlakeD

@sdzald: Mass Effect Andromeda. Enough said.

Avatar image for SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

@sdzald: Um. Games releases five years ago or more can take advantage of "that much" power.

Avatar image for starjay009
starjay009

With a gaming PC loaded with GTX 980, i7 4790K, 16GB DDR3 memory, Win 7 64bit etc.. (still a very powerful rig)... I wouldn't even consider getting this 'thing' if it's priced anywhere between $500 to $600. My X1 vanilla is still good enough for me plus my tv is only 1080p and I only play Gears and Forza on it anyway. The Scorpio isn't doing much from an appeal perspective if you own a decent gaming PC. Still, as a native 4K system, it will eventually sell well if it can bring some quality first party exclusives to the table. Otherwise, I would stick with my original X1 cause I have no issues and am very happy with it.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@starjay009: It will easily outclass a 980 that is far from cutting edge now. I have the 980ti and it's around about a similar performance level to the Scorpio plus games will be far more optimised for Scorpio than they are for PC.

I am looking forward to seeing how it pans out and if it doesn't then i'll just build a rig with a 1080ti or whatever the top card is around that time.

I would like to see it succeed though , i was a big fan of the original Xbox when it first came out.

Avatar image for angel9ramos7
angel9ramos7

@starjay009: Sadly there's no scorpio exclusives. I think its to not create a console war within the same brand.

Avatar image for zyxahn
zyxahn

$549.99--$599.99 Consoles don't usually come in at a middle price range. But I think this one may have to break that trend and come in at $549.99 mark. My only thing is that, since there have been no leaks whatsoever on the actual price range, I am thinking that the price is going to surprise us. $499.99---$529.99. The tv turned out to be shit but remember the Similview 3dtv, however they spelled it. That price shocked everyone at the time.

Avatar image for troll_elite
Troll_Elite

Months ago an interview with Phil revealed that the console wouldn't be priced beyond what any other console had seen, the most expensive of course being the Playstation 3 $599 model at launch. I'm anticipating a $599 console with Scorpio. Quotes from 3rd party developers all seem to agree that Scorpio feels more like a next-gen console than a half-assed refresh like the PS4 Pro. To me, that signals that the internal hardware is going to be top-notch - as in Ryzen CPU + AMD Vega GPU top notch. I'd expect it to be VR capable for the likes of games such as Fallout 4 VR when it's released (although whether or not Xbox will support the Vive is a different story), and certainly 4k/30fps + HDR capable.

Put it this way, if Scorpio is 4-5 times as powerful as the X1 S, then it's certainly a bargain at 2 times the price.

Avatar image for gamerbum
GamerBum

I liked the comment where he said that he believes it should be up to the devs on how they build their games i.e whether they want to go the 1080p/60 route or whatever. No shoe horning specific specs, should bode well. It also sounds as if Scorpio will be easier than the other models to develope for hope thats true. Can't wait for this beast of a console but they really need to get the price right. If it's anything north of $550 Australian then they will have shot themselves in the foot.🎮✌

Avatar image for starjay009
starjay009

@gamerbum: "...Can't wait for this beast of a console" Err, I wouldn't say anything like that until this stuff comes out. No point in being a "beast of a console" without quality new titles. But I am eagerly waiting for E3 2017 and what Microsoft have up their sleeve.

Avatar image for sdzald
sdzald

@starjay009:

Right on the mark. They could try and sell me a super computer for 100 bucks, if it doesn't have games that can take advantage of that power then it is just a waste of money!

Avatar image for spinierblaked
SpinierBlakeD

@sdzald: Mass Effect Andromeda

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@spinierblaked: That would be great on Scorpio but too far away yet to know what EA plans to do with enhancements if any. Knowing EA they won't risk spending alot until they know there are alot of Scorpio's out there.

Avatar image for deactivated-5b0457a4d6084

$500 easily the least.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1
lionheartssj1

I'm hoping for 400ish max. That might be wishful thinking, but it would definitely help make my decision harder, haha.

Avatar image for titang1
TitanG1

@lionheartssj1: Don't bet on $400, I wouldn't bet on $450 either.

He's made it clear over and over this is a "premium product" aimed at customers that want a "premium experience". My money is on no less than $500 but probably closer to $600.

Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

@titang1: My guess is $650 us and $799-$849 Australian . I think people are dreaming if they think it will be $500 us that is way too cheap. It would probably be that in another 12 months time.