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Microsoft scrapped plans to launch beefier Xbox console last year

Now prepping console plans for after Scorpio, too.

Microsoft at one point planned to launch a beefed up Xbox console in 2016, but ended up scrapping the project.

Development resources were later folded into Project Scorpio, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told Gamasutra.

The canned console project sounds like it would have increased the power of the standard Xbox One - something last year's Xbox One S did not do in any meaningful way.

But Spencer called time on the project after it became clear the console would not offer enough of an upgrade at an attractive price point.

"We designed a console for 2016, and a console for 2017. We were kind of working on both plans simultaneously," Spencer revealed. "[At some point], we said, 'I think we need to do more than what the silicon is that's available in 2016 at a price point that a console customer would want to pay'. So that's when we stopped that effort.

"[We] said okay, we're going to put all of our weight and execution capability of the hardware team behind delivering a higher-powered console in 2017 that's completely geared towards 4K."

Spencer doesn't say it in as many words, but Scorpio sounds like the first project to launch from Xbox which Spencer himself will have been captain of from start to finish.

"The ideas behind S were in flight slightly," he remarked, when talking of the slimmer Xbox One which launched last year. In other words, plans for the inevitable revision originated from the much-maligned Don Mattrick era.

For Scorpio, Spencer wanted a key concept: 1080p30fps Xbox One games running at 4K 30fps on Scorpio. It was this vision from Spencer which ultimately ended the 2016 console concept.

Cover image for YouTube videoIs Project Scorpio better than the PS4 Pro?

"We didn't think we could make that promise to developers in 2016," Spencer continued. "We didn't think we could get there last year, with the silicon that was in the market."

Of course, Sony did launch a more powerful console last year - PlayStation 4 Pro. It's a topic Spencer also touched on.

"Sometimes I get in trouble when I talk about Sony too much," he begins, "but, the choice they made on PS4 Pro, I totally get that choice, from their perspective and what they wanted to go do. They've built a good 2016 PS4 Pro. With the silicon that was available, they picked the parts that made sense to go and put together a console in 2016."

Spencer also spoke briefly on his continued commitment to console development - and the future of Xbox consoles, specifically.

"I'm a strong believer in console. And what that appliance means in my family room, under my TV," he said. "The planning for what happens after Scorpio in the console space is already underway. You have to think about it that way. Like, what is the next thing? We - I - remain committed to the console space. We think it's critically important."

The full interview with Spencer is a lengthy read but well worth it - there's lots more insight on Project Scorpio itself, and how games will scale between Xbox One, S, and Scorpio versions. You can read it all over on Gamasutra.