Microsoft needs to fight back against the juggernaut that is the PlayStation 4. After all, the Xbox One is playing second fiddle and has been for some time.
One way the Xbox team is planning to do that is by releasing “the most powerful console ever” in the Xbox Scorpio this holiday season, though we still don’t know how much it will cost. The system will be part of the Xbox One family, all of which will play all the same games at various quality levels, but the Scorpio will be more than four times more powerful than the Xbox One. It’s a true premium video game console, and we can expect it to cost like one.
Alas, without more great exclusive content Microsoft will likely not be able to close the gap between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 any time soon, even with Scorpio. They even admit as much. With few major Xbox One exclusives in the pipeline, the likelihood of a killer app saving the day is also slim. So what should Microsoft do?
They should rip off Nintendo, that’s what.
Recently, my colleague Paul Tassi wrote that he wished he could play all his favorite console games on the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see that happening. The Switch is simply not powerful enough to attract much third-party support, for one thing, and that’s reinforced by Nintendo’s long history of not playing ball with third parties very well. Many AAA publishers are simply unconvinced that porting to the Switch is worthwhile or financially viable. The uncertainty around the system’s online component all but ensures a dearth of competitive multiplayer games like Overwatch or Call of Duty.
In other words, no matter how great the Switch is, it still leaves plenty of room for healthy competition in the hybrid portable/home console business. Some might say that the PS4/Sony Vita combo provides just that, but let’s face it: The Vita is a lost cause. Besides, while the Switch plays all games in mobile or docked mode, the PS4/Vita only has some crossover titles. It’s more expensive and less convenient and never really took off.
But an Xbox that could be played on the go or at home docked would be everything fans of AAA gaming ever wanted. Let’s riff off of Microsoft’s tablet/PC hybrid, the Surface, and call this the Xbox Surface. That has a nice ring to it.
Instead of a tablet with a detachable keyboard, the Xbox Surface would be an Xbox One in mobile form that could be easily docked to your TV, where you could then play using a standard Xbox One gamepad.
It would be, for all intents and purposes, a standard Xbox One and could play every single Xbox One game. The only difference would be that all those games could be played on the tablet in portable mode with special controllers attached. These would basically be two halves of a standard Xbox One gamepad that could attach or detach from the tablet. Like I said…a ripoff of the Nintendo Switch, but capable of playing Halo, Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, Dark Souls and so forth.
Now gamers could play their favorite shooters on the go or docked. Now Microsoft’s “Play Anywhere” slogan, which currently refers to crossover between Xbox games on console and PC would have new (and improved) meaning. Now you could play Gears of War on your PC or with friends at a BBQ. Imagine that for a moment: Sitting down with three other friends and playing co-op on your Xbox Surface in Gears or Halo or Dark Souls.
This may not be the most original idea. Suggesting that one company should basically copy another company may even seem a bit unfair. But it’s a good idea regardless, and Microsoft has all the pieces just waiting to be assembled. They have the technology. Now they just need to make it a reality.
Fun Trivia: It turns out that there were rumors of an Xbox gaming tablet five years ago some were calling the Xbox Surface. I had completely forgotten. Well, an Xbox gaming tablet would be fine and dandy, but I think it would ultimately not be that great without the attachable gamepads and ability to play the exact same titles in both home and portable mode seamlessly. I mean, you can stream your Xbox games to your Surface tablet already, but it’s still not the seamless experience I’m talking about here.