Sources: Smaller Xbox One Coming This Year, More Powerful Xbox One In 2017

Microsoft is preparing at least two new Xbox models for release in the next two years, sources tell Kotaku. Later this year we'll see a cheaper, smaller Xbox One, and next year Microsoft will release a more powerful version of their premiere console. Illustration by Sam Woolley

The 2017 Xbox, which is codenamed Scorpio, will have a more powerful GPU, according to three people familiar with this model, speaking anonymously because they were not authorised to speak about Microsoft's plans. We hear that it will also be technically capable of supporting the Oculus Rift and that Microsoft is pursuing a partnership with Oculus. As for 2016, sources have told us there's at least a more compact version coming by year's end. One source believed it will include a larger 2TB hard drive, double the capacity of the most spacious current model. We're expecting Microsoft to announce the more compact machine at E3 next month. (Kotaku's Jason Schreier and Kotaku UK's Keza MacDonald both independently corroborated this information.)

When asked about these plans, Microsoft and Oculus representatives did not provide comment.

The two consoles form part of a wider Microsoft strategy, codenamed "Project Helix" according to one source, to converge Xbox and Windows. For a while now Microsoft has been clear that they want their two prestige brands to work together, as they have announced big new exclusives like Halo Wars 2 and Sea of Thieves for both Xbox One and PC. Developer sources have told us that Microsoft's new mandate is to release future games — including the flagship Halo series — on both platforms. The recently-cancelled Fable Legends, which was playable across Windows 10 and Xbox One, was one of the first games to implement this strategy.

In addition, people familiar with Microsoft's plans have told Keza that the company is moving toward an iterative approach for their consoles, not unlike Apple. Sources say that instead of one hardware revision every five years or so, as has been the case with previous console cycles, Microsoft plans to move towards an incremental model, with more frequent hardware releases and games that are both forwards and backwards compatible across both Windows 10 and different Xbox models.

In March, Xbox boss Phil Spencer dropped some hints about this new approach, telling journalists that he'd like to see consoles take a PC-like evolution. "I look at the ecosystem that a console sits in and I think that it should have the capability of more iteration on hardware capability," he said. A few days later, he elaborated. "What I'm saying is as hardware innovations happen we want to be able to embrace those in the console space, and make those available and maybe not have to wait seven or eight years for things to happen."

Of course, Microsoft is no stranger to changing their high-level hardware plans, as we saw in 2013, when the company reversed course on an always-online Xbox One. With Microsoft, anything can change at any time. We hear that the folks at Xbox have yet to finalise the specs for 2017's Scorpio, although they briefed third-party publishers on the device during a secret event last week, according to a source.

Development sources raised the concern that although the Scorpio model will be capable of supporting 4K resolution thanks to its GPU upgrade, as of right now there is no planned upgrade to the console's I/O transfer speed — the speed at which the console can transfer assets from a disc or hard drive to its memory. This could mean long loading times for games specifically designed to support 4K, due to their larger assets.

Two months ago, Kotaku broke the news that Sony is preparing an upgraded version of their PS4, which is code-named Neo and will also have a more powerful GPU. Although Sony has not yet confirmed the existence of that device, other news outlets have come forth to corroborate details. We'll likely hear more from both first parties next month at their respective E3 press conferences. Microsoft's event is Tuesday, June 14 at 2:30am AEST (Monday, June 13 at 12:30pm EDT). Sony's is later that day at 11:00am AEST (9:00pm EDT).


Comments

    Wouldn't it make more sense to skip the "slim" model and just focus on the new hardware revision?

    as of right now there is no planned upgrade to the console’s I/O transfer speed — the speed at which the console can transfer assets from a disc or hard drive to its memory. This could mean long loading times for games specifically designed to support 4K, due to their larger assets.

    Hrrrrm, as if the IO isn't bad enough already when installing games in the first place. Seriously, PS3 games have been able to copy their content to the hard drive and since Microsoft have even done this for the Halo 2 installer on the PC Microsoft has no excuse.

    Last edited 26/05/16 7:38 am

      Yep, drives me mad that the newer consoles get, the longer it takes to launch into games.

      Loading times mid game also haven't improved much.

      The "slim" model might reduce production costs, and the smaller physical size is going to reduce shipping and inventory storage costs. Presumably they're betting that these savings will cover the development of the intermediate model.

      Also, I wouldn't be surprised if next year's model shares the form factor of the slim model, so slim model could just be the result of the first stage of development on the more powerful model.

        Call me overly skeptical but since the X360 I don't think Microsoft have a clue about manufacture.

        Sure, the original Xbox was large enough to fit a family of four but at least it didn't have hardware failures as standard before one opened the box.

          It is pretty clear they screwed up in designing the original Xbox 360 models, but you're talking about design work done over 10 years ago that was subsequently fixed (at great expense to Microsoft).

          I haven't actively looked for news stories on Xbox One hardware failures, but I was under the impression that it had similar reliability to any other consumer electronics device. So I don't have any reason to doubt that they could make incremental improvements to that design.

            I know it's old, but it looks very bad from then out when they couldn't get a simple thing like ventilation proper.

            And now there is the XBone which almost resembles an 80's style Betamax deck and the problems are now in the software DRM instead of the hardware.

            A lot of the problems are basically there out of spite when many refused to accept the always on DRM Microsoft tried to push out.

    Dyack was right. One Console Future. And that console is the PC.

    Looking more and more like PS4 (or maybe NX) will be the last home console I can really be bothered buying.

    People upgrade their PC's iteratively because they have the option to replace individual parts when and how they want, there is endless choice.
    Consoles don't have that - the upside is they have reliability when it comes to running any game 'how it was intended' with minimal effort/cost. Taking away that reliability without adding the choice aspect just kills it for me.

      I'm in the same boat but for different reasons.

      The PS4 (maybe the PS4.5 as well) and the XBone are the last consoles I'm getting as the DRM is just too freaking much.

      Seriously, I bought the game so publishers can get lost!

        DRM is almost as prevalent on PC though. Especially for AAA titles.

        DRM is here to stay, you can't get away from it.

          Yes I can; play retro or get my PC games from GoG.com.

          And yes, I know technically there is DRM in the form of region locking on the old consoles but at least they didn't have to phone home with a blood sample and answers about my estranged aunt to verify I did buy the freaking game.

          I may keep a PC but mostly for laughs; I'm finding myself getting more fun from the 360/PS3 and earlier.

            Like I said DRM is almost as prevalent on PC, especially for AAA titles - which you can't get from GOG.

            Playing retro games etc though? Then why would you need a console to begin with? Why have a PS4 or Xbone? The retro games have been around for quite a long time, nothing stopping you from playing those.

            Personally I don't care about DRM at all. I'm always online anyway.

              The Witcher series doesn't count as AAA? The build effort is certainly there.

              That aside, I know DRM is prevalent on PC. But unlike you, I think it worse there than on consoles. See case in point, Origin (or whatever the odd jobs at EA are calling it now).

              At one point, you had to make sure your downloaded games were backed up because EA thought it wise to expire the ability to download a purchased game after 12 months (which killed it for me).

              Maybe I'm too old fashioned but I'm of the mould that when I'm online it is by my choice and I share the data I choose. I do not go online so I can be monitored to ensure I'm not tampering with a product I have legally purchased.

              Bug I've digressed long enough. In terms of the newer consoles, I'm an Uncharted fan and some new games that come out (like Mirror's Edge and others) I go for the console version because I refuses to have a perfectly good PC crippled by EA's malware of another name.

              Last edited 26/05/16 6:04 pm

                I said "especially for AAA titles" not for every single AAA title. Witcher is one of the few that allow DRM free on GOG.

                Origin sucks, I avoid it as much as possible. Never heard of the 12 month think, probably because it's gone now and I avoided Origin as long as possible.

                When you're online what you're doing can be seen by anyone who cares enough to look. DRM doesn't change that either way. If you want privacy use a VPN.

                I once cared about DRM when it first came in. Now I couldn't care less because in practice it hasn't affected me at all. For most games the only DRM I encounter is Steam and being online in Steam has other benefits.

      I'll go where the games I want are. Currently that's Nintendo. I don't see them following suit with an upgrade every other year.

        That's the main thing that's had me buying consoles for a while now to be honest, bought a PS4 for Infamous, Uncharted, Destiny, etc. Did the same for Wii U.

        Will be interested to see how AAA devs take this iterative console thing in the next year or two considering some already seem split on it.

        Except Nintendo upgrade their handhelds every other year. And with the most recent - actually restricted some software to the newer model only.

        I'm cool with that - 3DS XL comes out - I pass the 3DS down to my son. And when the 2DS came out - the son got that, and my partner got the original 3DS. And I've been buying most major handheld upgrades since the GBA SP. DS on launch, upgraded to DSLite, then DS XL - and so on. If you've got a decent size library that's compatible (and I ALWAYS have a shameful backlog) - I don't have a problem with that.

        Was actually contemplating buying son an X1 for christmas (he's got a decent size library from GwG and a lot of his XBLA/GOD library receiving BC - Rayman, Sonics etc) - but I'll now hold off until X1.5 comes out and give him my old one.

        Let's face it - when getting a new console - it's not the console cost that's the main expense, it's building a relatively diverse mini library in the first few months. If this new "iterative upgrade" cycle effectively means that all my titles from the last three years are supported well into the next decade - I'm totally cool with that.

        Whether the NX supports my Wii/WiiU/3DS digital library will play a big factor in how soon after launch I get one.

          Good point, I wasn't thinking of handhelds in my comment. I found myself not touching my 3DS after I got the Wii U so I no longer have it.

          The upgrade is an interesting topic in regards to how games will support it. Will it be a massive upgrade or just have better graphics, no impact on gameplay?

      Yep, this announcement and the multiplatform games support makes me want to just spend the money on upgrading my PC's GPU, rather than buying a new, slightly better Xbox One

      It appears this has more in common with Apple's idea of "iteration" with their Macbook releases rather than PC's iterative qualities.

    6TF is serious grunt and a very welcome upgrade. Given phones are more expensive and are upgraded more often I will happily give money for a console that can run ultra settings @1080p 60fps! Thank you MS, keep the spec high and take my money now!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QEsjd1WZuY

    He loves German beer!

    I only have the consoles for exclusives, and if these exclusives won't run (or run badly) on the console I bought a mere 2 and a half years ago then what's the point of having a console any more? I might as well stick to PC where I can pick and choose what I want to upgrade when I want to and just forget about any console exclusives.

    I might upgrade my phone every couple of years, but I buy phones that cost around $150 so that's a little easier to take.

      I can totally understand your point if you buy consoles for exclusives only. Maybe hold off till later in the gen next time?

    When I can outright buy the two new upgraded consoles for the same price as buying one 1080, without having to trade my old consoles in to make it that price, it seems fine to me.

    I'll buy the upgraded x1, and build a new rig for the 1080 and wait for sony to release a game I have to have for the ps neo before picking one up.

    I thought Microsoft said they will never make an upgraded console. It is not Xbox's style, bla bla bla.

    If it was every 5 years, I could be okay with it, as long as it is fully backwards compatible and I keep all my games and peripherals etc.
    I buy a console for $500, and then in 5 years time sell it for a $150 or so, it has cost me, what, $1.30 a week to have owned that console?
    Still way cheaper than top teir graphics card upgrading every 5 years, let alone the cost of the PC to go with it.

    The problem in the past was losing your game library and having to buy new controllers etc, I'm okay with a new console where I get to choose 'maximum' graphics settings, and gett better resolution/framerates/textures.

    If they don't update the I/O though, it will be crappy, and I think by 2017 the VR boat may have sailed or sunk.

      Similar principle but I'd be ok with $500 every 2 years, I will welcome modular upgrades. For me personally I'd prefer to pump another $500 into a console 2 years down the track than sit there and watch outdated graphics for another 5 years due to not wanting to expand.... I like the idea of consoles being more agile and upto date.

    will have a more powerful GPU ... will also be technically capable of supporting the Oculus Rift

    Isnt that a MASSIVE upgrade to the GPU? Or am I just stupid

    Whoa, if Nintendo manages to make the NX something really noteworthy, they should clean shop taking in account that both their competitors will have mere upgrades to their own consoles to show for it. Hopefully all those games that they are not making in 2016 means that they are focusing all their efforts in making the NX a succes.

      They have been heavily focused on games so in year one there is no shortage of new titles and the momentum will keep going. So its a good start.

      Im a huge Nintendo fan so cant wait. I l9ve my xbone, but iterative updates?? I already have 3 to play games with my partner and kids. Cant afford to replace them every couple of years.

      As a future NX owner it has me a little more worried. They are all going to have top machines out next year instead of just Nintendo. A lot more competition there. Hope it goes well though, I loved the Wii U catalogue but a few more big multi plats would be nice.

        I'm not really worried. If Nintendo pulls a really good gimmick with the NX, the novelty value of it should easily surpass "your old thing, but slightly better" offerings of the other two.

        As for multi-plats, I'm sorry to say that's never been the main concern of Nintendo. They prefer to try to offer something unique than just becoming a third option for people who are, anyway, more likely to put their money on machines that always are going to be technically superior if only because the multinational giants behind them have more resources and more cash.

          True, I'm not terribly fussed, Nintendo's first party titles have trumped them for me anyway. That new Tomb Raider game looked pretty neat though. Uncharted looks pretty great as well.

    PS4 NEO - 2016
    xBOX ONE Scorpio- 2017
    ...
    PS4 Fishbourne - 2019 released with PlayStation VR2
    XBOX ONE Sub zerO - 2020 released with oculus 2 ( or 3 or 4 lol!)

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