At E3 this week, Microsoft is trying to change the way we think about game consoles. If you bought an Xbox 360 at launch, you spent a long time—eight years!—without any sort of graphical upgrade. That’s not the case this generation: If you want HDR-enhanced game graphics and 4K Blu-ray playback, you can buy the Xbox One S this year. You could also hold off until the 2017 holiday season in order to buy what’s currently code-named “Project Scorpio,” a more powerful version of the console that’s designed to melt your eyeballs with 4K gaming as well as high-end VR….
While consoles have traditionally never chased the ever-iterating world of PC gaming, Scorpio is a step in that direction: Delivering 4K graphics, to match what high-end gaming PCs can already deliver, is the new box’s raison d’ere. After all, Spencer says, developers are usually building a PC version of any given game alongside the Xbox version—and increasingly, that means a 4K version. “When we started looking at Scorpio,” he says, “we asked the partners, ‘in order to build a true high-fidelity 4K game, what capabilities do you need?’ That’s what we designed Scorpio around. It’s kind of like a [GeForce GTX] 980 card on the PC. I get the capability that I need as a developer to deliver a high-fidelity 4K game.”