It’s been some time since the gaming world has been revolutionized. The last major gamechanger to playing games came all the way back in the early 90s with the switch from 8 bit to 16 bit machines. Past that point things have been more about slow growth rather than everything changing in the blink of an eye. It’s one of the main reasons why so many games look the same over every platform. The slow growth in the industry and lack of major changes has created a somewhat homologous environment. But all of this is changing thanks to virtual reality. It’s long been a dream of gamers, but it’s only in the past few years that technology had reached a point to make it a potentially viable platform. Now that it is, most of the major companies and even some of the minor ones are showing a great deal of interest.
While most companies are testing the waters to some extent, recent news from the E3 conference shows that Microsoft is about to fully take the plunge. They’re working in a new virtual reality based gaming system, codenamed Project Scorpio. The name is certain to change by the time the system’s projected release date rolls around. But when the 2017 holiday season rolls around people are sure to be excited by what the company has to offer. Any moving target in the tech industry will have a lot of changes as the development cycle progresses. So it’s always a good idea to remember that anything about a company’s plans for VR might change in one way or another as time goes by. But the initial reports from E3 paint a picture of a very interesting new console.
Microsoft is planning for Project Scorpio to be the world’s most powerful gaming platform. It will also be able to provide true 4K gaming. This might seem somewhat confusing to people not overly familiar with the technology. After all, the company’s Xbox One S already has 4k support. But the way virtual reality devices function shows why this is so impressive, and why Microsoft needs to pack a lot of power into Project Scorpio.
A VR headset is essentially two powerful but compact monitors which are set within a cradle of additional sensors. Getting the best visual resolution in such a small package while also keeping it light enough to wear has been one of the more significant challenges. However, now that it’s feasible to create the hardware it’s also clear just how taxing it can be on a system’s video processor. A console essentially needs to run the majority of visually oriented processes twice in order to output it to each eye’s display. High definition video is already taxing on a system. Doing it twice requires some major leaps forward within the industry.
But Microsoft is ready for the challenge. This is especially true in light of speculation that by 2020 virtual and augmented reality products will generate around $120 billion. It’s a new market and Microsoft is clearly eager to become the industry leader right from the start. This could be a major boon to the company’s gaming division, which is currently lagging behind Sony in terms of console sales.
At the moment Microsoft is keeping silent on more in-depth features of the project. But one can speculate based on recent Xbox updates that Project Scorpio will have impressive file storage within a compact form factor. Microsoft’s other announcements regarding more inclusive Xbox live support hints at high-end support for Project Scorpio as well.