Microsoft has said much and little about the Project Scarlett console. We know it’s going to have some pretty good hardware specs, and we know it’s going to be backwards compatible. But on Twitter, “Head of Xbox” Phil Spencer wanted to really drive these points home the other day. Literally. So he brought his Project Scarlett home. Which means he drove it home. Ha.
On Twitter yesterday, Phil sent a tweet bragging about having the Project Scarlett at home, playing as if he were any other gamer:
And it’s started….this week I brought my Project Scarlett console home and it's become my primary console, playing my games, connecting to the community and yes, using my Elite Series 2 controller, having a blast. Great work by the team, 2020 is going to be an incredible year.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 4, 2019
Yes, he has a next-gen console about ten to eleven months early. That’s the first obvious observation here. But what else does this reveal?
For one, we don’t actually know of any games that are prepped and ready for a Project Scarlett demo. But that’s not the point here — Spencer says he’s not only playing games, but interacting with communities. And look, we know he can’t just be interacting with a dozen Project Scarlett testers. So the main solution here is: He’s playing Xbox One games. Or games from even earlier, like, say, Xbox 360. And that spells out backwards compatibility. Which, we knew…?
More specifically, Microsoft already announced that Project Scarlett would have total and complete backwards compatibility. Obviously, that means every game you own, all the way back to the original Xbox console, will be playable on Project Scarlett. Microsoft also said in past conferences that the new technology in Project Scarlett allows these games to look even better on the new console.
But when it comes to “backwards compatibility” from modern console games, you’re not just asking graphics and hardware support. Many modern games rely on being continuously supported, whether through communities or servers. Phil Spencer’s tweet implies that we’re going to be getting a degree of official community support for Xbox One games when things shift over to Project Scarlett.
The main question is that many of these games are perfectly playable as they stand on the Xbox One. We have yet to see what this actually means for games like Destiny 2, The Division 2, Monster Hunter: World and more.
There’s also the fact that Spencer is using his Elite Series 2 controller. It’s the brand-spankin’-new controller from Microsoft for the Xbox One that claims to be targeting “competitive gamers,” whatever that means. It touts wild adjustable-tension thumbsticks, an assigned “alt/shift” button for alternate use of buttons, changeable pads and thumbsticks, and — most importantly, of course — more rubber all over the place for maximum grip.
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Again, Elite Series 2 controller is considered to be part of the “current generation” of consoles, even if its technology is somewhat “next-gen.” Otherwise, why would Spencer have mentioned it? The answer, obviously, is that Spencer reinforces that current-gen tech is going to be compatible with Project Scarlett. So no, you don’t have to replace that really cool controller themed like Sea of Thieves, or your kid’s Minecraft one (or yours? no judgement).
In short, it seems like Spencer was really eager to basically just brag that he’s playing, like, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare or something on a solid state drive. Which is respectable!
Microsoft needs to maintain a certain level of hype that’ll last the next, say, six months until E3 or something like that. (They have their own sponsored theater in Los Angeles, so of course they’re going to do another presentation.) It’s good for fans and industry watchers to know that a working prototype is out in the wild and interfacing with the current generation. Let’s let Spencer have his victory lap.
If you’re eyeing the Microsoft line of consoles, the All Access Pass lets you loan an Xbox with the Xbox Games Pass — and if you really want Proejct Scarlett afterwards, you can upgrade when the time comes.