Over the next 24 hours, Microsoft is expected to make a variety of big announcements at their E3 presentation and with the proper reveal of their new Xbox One console, currently codenamed Project Scorpio, being among them, the stage is set for this to be one of the biggest showings of the Xbox brand at E3 in years (and also one of the longest running over 90 minutes).
Due to how major this year's E3 is expected to be for Microsoft, I asked my fellow On MSFT editors and writers to share their predictions with me. How much will Project Scorpio be? Will there be any big surprises? Here's everything we think will happen.
Michael Cottuli: There's no question that this year's E3 conference is going to revolve around Scorpio. We know for a fact that we'll be getting the Scorpio news bomb we've been looking forward to during E3 this year, and Microsoft is well aware that they have to deliver on some serious hype that's been building since last year's announcement. With every high fidelity title that's shown off, we can expect to see some gameplay on Scorpio, just to sell the console's performance to those who aren't convinced yet. I'm going to say that we'll be seeing a price point of $499 but I wouldn't be blown away if they went for $599. I think we'll be seeing an October release date, in line with the clues they've been hiding in their advertising.
As far as the games are concerned, there will definitely be updates on highly anticipated titles like Cuphead (my money's on finally getting a solid release date during the keynote) and the new Crackdown. The real showstoppers will take the form of new IP. With Xbox heavy-hitters like Halo and Gears of War absent from the upcoming fall line-up, it's safe to say that this year's conference will be full of brand new franchises - something that, personally, is my favorite part of every E3 conference.
Laurent Giret: I think there is no doubt that Project Scorpio will be a better console than the Xbox One S, even for people playing "old" Xbox One games. However, I wonder if the new console will also bring new accessories, such as a new Elite controller or a better media remote.
Hopefully, Project Scorpio will feature a built-in mic for Cortana voice commands, and I'd also like the console to support Bluetooth, just like Sony's PlayStation 4. This would make Project Scorpio a better all-in-one entertainment device because a lot of gamers use their consoles for other things than playing games.
Arif Bacchus: I'm predicting that Microsoft Studios and Turn 10 Studios will unveil Forza Motorsports 7. Turn 10 has been known to alternate every year between the release of a Forza Horizon Game and a Forza Motorsports game, so it would not be a surprise to me if we end up seeing Forza 7 at E3 this year. This would especially make sense given that Sony is really pushing the Gran Turismo Series for PS4, as well as Gran Turismo Sport. Forza 7 can also be Microsoft Studio's and Turn 10's answer to Gran Turismo Sport, and even better since we know that Project Scorpio is a beast of a console.
Kareem Anderson: I'm predicting a price point of $499. It would be a shocker if it were any lower, but any higher and they're pretty much dead in the water without games to back up that price. I'm also seeing some fluent design showcased in the demos. With a release probably a couple of months after the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, fluent design would sing on the big screen. Lastly, I'm predicting that HTC or a PC OEM will be ready with a headset for this while Microsoft continues to tweak HoloLens for more mass market option, which means we should see more Windows 10 Holographic in some demos, alongside some 3rd party games coming to the system.
Without that many games on the docket, the Xbox division needs to play up the abilities and expansion of the hardware.
My Predictions: Like many people, I think the $499 price point for Project Scorpio is a pretty safe bet with other models with more memory easily reaching the $600 mark. What concerns me though is how much the console will retail for outside of North America in regions like Australia where technology is notoriously more expensive than in the US. The Nintendo Switch for example currently retails for around US$299 in North America but in Australia it's being sold for around US$360. I'd love to see Scorpio retail for AU$500 but realistically I can see it launching at AU$600 or even $700 as a very premium device. An October release in all major regions is a pretty safe bet with pre-orders opening within 24 hours of the presentation. It's final name? Possibly Xbox One Scorpio but would love it if Microsoft went with something like Xbox One Elite instead.
In addition to the Project Scorpio reveal, Microsoft will likely spend a fair amount of time recapping all the Xbox 360 backwards compatible and Xbox Play Anywhere titles that launched since last year's E3 with a strong but short promotional push for Xbox Game Pass. We could potentially see backwards compatibility announced for original Xbox video games or Xbox 360 game support coming to Windows 10 which would be a great surprise. Both have about a 50/50 chance of happening though. This will also be Mixer's first E3 and it's likely there'll be some sort of announcement made relating to Mixer Partners and monetization features to encourage streamers to make the jump to Mixer from Twitch.
Reveals of Forza 7 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider are a pretty safe bet (despite statements to the contrary). Both of these will be launch titles for Project Scorpio but will also run on existing Xbox One consoles (like all Scorpio games) and Windows 10 PCs via Xbox Play Anywhere. We'll also see at least two completely new IPs and a potential relaunch/reboot of Killer Instinct which has never really achieved the level of success Microsoft had hoped for. If Microsoft doesn't announce any new plans for the franchise beyond the new character coming later this month, it's likely they're planning to bury it and move on to something else entirely.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know what your E3 predictions are in the comments below.