What is Project Scorpio?

Project Scorpio is the codename for Microsoft’s next Xbox console. It was teased at E3 2016 but we expect to hear far more about it at this year’s event in June – including its actual name. The tease was added to the Xbox press conference we suspect because Sony was soon to announce (and release) the PS4 Pro, even though Microsoft claimed it was to get developers on board.

Xbox boss, Phil Spencer said at the E3 reveal: “we’re announcing Project Scorpio today to give our developers and partners the ability to take advantage of that capability now.”

It wasn’t the first we’ve heard of Project Scorpio, however. Those who follow games industry news will know that the Scorpio name was bandied around from early 2016 – and many of the leaked details were effectively confirmed by Microsoft.


The Xbox team doesn’t talk in too much detail about the innards of devices and we suspect that things are still a long way from final for Project Scorpio.

The focus has been the confirmed six teraflops of GPU power, mentioned a number of times on stage at E3 2016, along with the “most powerful console” positioning.

The main crux of Project Scorpio is delivering uncompromised 4K gaming. That’s a different position to the already available Xbox One S, which supports 4K Ultra HD sources like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, and Ultra HD Blu-ray, but cannot play games in 4K. Although it does support HDR (high dynamic range).

So that’s where Project Scorpio will really have to leverage its hardware, with talk about fully uncompressed pixels and 60Hz frame rates, for incredibly smooth, but very detailed, visuals. There’s talk of eight CPU cores and over 320GBps memory bandwidth, too. That’s about it for the official line so far though.

In the announcement of Project Scorpio, there was also a fair amount of talk of VR. With Bethesda already showing off plans for Fallout in VR – which we’ve had a chance to demo – another aim of Project Scorpio is to deliver high-fidelity VR gaming.

Where the official announcement ends, the rumours continue, with sources talking to Kotaku saying that Scorpio will be “technically capable of supporting Oculus.” Partnering with an established name in VR (at least as established as you can get in a brand new sector) would be something of a coup for Xbox, bringing that hardware to the console and reducing the need for a PC. However, there’s nothing official to suggest this has happened.

Still, VR is certainly on the roadmap and the Xbox team is sending out the message that Project Scorpio is going to offer an uncompromised VR experience for gaming.

Microsoft has been clear from the first mention of Project Scorpio that it will be a part of the Xbox family. Games that run on Xbox One or Xbox One S will also run on Project Scorpio, but with better graphics, higher frame rates or resolutions. It’s a similar story to the way the PS4 Pro plays PS4 games but often with enhancements and sometimes in 4K.

The message pushed by Spencer is that “no one gets left behind”, so as Scorpio pushes things forwards, Team Xbox is keen to ensure that the humble Xbox One gamer doesn’t feel they have to go out an buy a new console to keep up. Equally, those who do get Scorpio will still be using the same services as they do now and be part of the same Xbox Live community.

It’s perhaps exciting to be able to put a date on a future release. Project Scorpio is slated for a December 2017 launch, right in time for “the holiday season”.

Of course, there’s no price yet, and with almost a year of development, we’re sure there’s going to be a lot more to learn about the future of Xbox.

We fully expect Microsoft’s E3 2017 press event to be headlined by Project Scorpio.

These are exciting times.


credit: Chris Hall and Rik Henderson