Xbox Scarlett vs. PlayStation 5: Microsoft wants Scarlett to be the 'most powerful console'

What you need to know

  • Microsoft recently revealed "Project Scarlett," it's next-generation console.
  • It's unclear how it compares to the PlayStation 5 at the moment.
  • The company wants it to be the "best console" and "number one" according to Xbox's Phil Spencer.

Updated June 19, 2019: In another interview between Kotaku and Phil Spencer, the Xbox executive said that "having the world's most powerful console... is a critical component."

Every year, Xbox head Phil Spencer sits down with Giant Bomb to discuss what was revealed at Microsoft's E3 briefings. This year is no different and, luckily, we got new information about "Project Scarlett," "Project xCloud," and what the company sees as the future of gaming.

When Microsoft revealed Scarlett, its next-generation console, it used phrases like "most immersive" instead of "most powerful." Many gamers were confused by this and thought that the next Xbox wouldn't focus on raw power. Luckily, Spencer put these concerns to rest when he said that the team is aiming for Scarlett to be "number one."

You can read an excerpt from the interview below where he confirms he wants the console to have a power advantage over the PlayStation 5 (PS5).

There are going to be areas where we should compete. And those areas… can lead to better outcomes when we compete… but it's still a world where in order for us to do better, you don't have to do worse… Gaming is a better space when there are brands that people trust, where brands that have been around for decades continue to be around… I want Xbox obviously to be one of those… We're not building Scarlett to not be the best console. I want to be number one. I'm as competitive as anybody. But that doesn't mean that I need somebody else to… suffer from a business standpoint… I think raw power is very important… I don't have a PS5 development kit, so I don't know what they're building… I will say that being a leader in consoles is what the team is committed to doing… We aren't building this program to try to aim for second place. We're building it aiming for first place and that's what I want to hit.

Hopefully Scarlett will be the most powerful console than the PS5. However, only time will tell. There are rumors floating around that Scarlett features a 12-core processor compared to the 8-core one found in the PS5, but nothing has been confirmed yet. As with any such leak, take it with a grain of salt until we receive official confirmation and both parties confirm specifications.

Spencer discussed other aspects of Microsoft's gaming ambitions as well. Despite the fact that the team is working on xCloud game streaming, he doesn't think that streaming services like Google Stadia will offer a better experience – when it comes to visual quality and input lag – than dedicated hardware at home.

He said the following on what xCloud wishes to achieve and how long it will take streaming to rival local hardware.

I'm not saying I'm going to be 8K 120 Hz to the phone... I want an experience on my phone that will go with me… I think cloud technology has the capability over years to create a really compelling experience in the home on a large screen, but the best way for you to go play Cyberpunk 2077 – to go play any of the games that were shown here – for years is going to be dedicated hardware in your home with local storage… going to the screen as fast as they can. That's not a slam on what anybody is doing.

Internet restrictions, and data caps that providers impose, are being taken into account for xCloud. Spencer confirmed that right now he believes game streaming takes up too much bandwidth. He said, "Look at the number of hours I've played of Destiny 2 as an example. I don't want all of those to be me writing checks to Comcast" because I've gone over my data cap for the month. This is a real concern that Google needs to address for Stadia. Due to this, and the quality of current streaming technology, Scarlett won't be Microsoft's last console.

At E3 2019, Microsoft announced two new branches to xCloud. One allows you to turn your local Xbox One into a private streaming server. This lets you remotely play games using your own hardware. However, the other one which is also launching in October will use Microsoft's servers. Spencer confirmed that this would be a paid service, but certain aspects might be free if you already own a console and the game.

There will be a cost to that. We'll figure out what that is… If you already bought a console and you bought the game, we're going to push really hard to make that invisible to you… Eventually, this is for people who live in areas who are never going to buy a console, but still want to play these great games… but that's years and years before… that's the… way people are using the technology.

Lastly, Spencer talked about the future of gaming and how he wants to see it transform into a "gig economy." If you aren't using your console at any particular moment, it could act as a server for people nearby. While this is in the realm of science fiction at the moment, it's still an interesting thought.

I love this idea that I might be able to offer up my local Xbox One when I'm not using it for people who are walking around… from them to run from my local console… it's kind of like the gig economy of game streaming… If my console is just sitting there and it's silent, and I'm not getting charged for upload… we're not doing that… that's years… The team will hate that I'm even talking about it.

Other important details from the interview can be seen below.

  • The xCloud reveal at E3 2019 was all about proving to the world that the service works.
  • With Xbox Game Pass, developers are going to have millions of players on day one. They will need to change the infrastructure of online games at launch to take this into account.
  • Discovery is important for Xbox Game Pass and expands gamers' interests. The service gives players the ability to try out new genres, or titles they haven't heard of, at no additional cost.
  • Scarlett will be backward compatible with four generations of games so that they run better than existing hardware. Microsoft wants to respect gamers' past purchases going forward.
  • If you buy a first-party game from Microsoft that's a "cross-generation" experience, the Xbox One version should automatically be upgraded to the Scarlett version whenever you decide to upgrade to the console. A great example of this would be Halo Infinite.

The interview between Spencer and Giant Bomb was quite illuminating and provided a lot of answers to important questions. However, the highlights have to be how Microsoft wants Scarlett to be the most powerful console, and how xCloud streaming for particular games may be free if you own a console and the game.

What aspects of the interview stood out for you? What do you think about the company's gaming plans going forward? Let us know. With Stadia entering the mix and next-generation machines right around the corner, it's definitely an interesting time to be a gamer.



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Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.