“We’ve shipped a Console and we’ve now detailed another console.”
Though reports over the course of the last year indicated Microsoft was working on two next generation consoles, a new interview and rumors suggest the company has decided to make its next console, codenamed Project Scarlett, a single device.
In an interview with Business Insider, Xbox head Phil Spencer responded to a question about him referring to the next generation of Xbox as multiple consoles during E3 2018, saying “Last year we said consoles, and we’ve shipped a console and we’ve now detailed another console. I think that’s plural.”
The console Microsoft released within the last year is the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which is really just a slightly less-expensive Xbox One S without a disc drive. “Technically that is plural,” Spencer said jokingly after this was brought up. “Right now… we’re focused on Project Scarlett and what we put on stage.”
Further reports suggest Microsoft perhaps once intended Project Scarlett to be two consoles, but later shifted to a single device after potential complications arose with developers and overall strategy.
Microsoft’s Next-Gen E3 Comments
During Microsoft’s E3 2018 press conference, Spencer seemingly referred to its next-gen consoles in the plural, saying the same team that worked on Xbox One X was “deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles, where we will once again deliver on our commitment to set the benchmark for console gaming.”
Further reports added credence to this point, suggesting the next generation of Xbox consoles were a more powerful console codenamed Anaconda, and a less powerful console codenamed Lockhart, both existing under the Project Scarlett umbrella. These reports seemed to be contradicted this E3, when Microsoft officially announced Project Scarlett and repeatedly referred to it in the singular.
Project Scarlett: Was It Always One Console?
While purely speculative, it seems Spencer was sidestepping the question when joking about the plural technicality, as the consoles referenced during the E3 2018 press conference were highly alluded to being next-gen. Discussing this interview, Thurott (the site that has consistently generated much of the new Xbox hardware news over the last year) claims Spencer was, in fact, referring to two next-gen consoles on stage in 2018, and that the change to a single console was the result of a shift in strategy from Microsoft.
The site claims developers were potentially having trouble focusing on consoles with two different sets of specs, and were putting a focus on the lower-end Lockhart’s specs instead of the higher-end Anaconda, ultimately sacrificing performance in the process. Additionally, the site says Microsoft’s Project xCloud streaming service might be a factor in removing the cheaper console, as it could theoretically stream next-gen quality performance through a slew of low-power devices, making Lockhart a redundancy. Ultimately, Thurott suggests Microsoft is streamlining the next generation of Xbox by keeping Scarlett as one console.
Regardless of reports, Microsoft’s official comments suggest Project Scarlett is, in fact, just one console, and that console would theoretically be the higher-end Anaconda that rumors previously detailed. It seems we may never know if those multiple console reports were ever accurate, but when Scarlett launches in Holiday 2020, it’s safe to bet it will be a single console. IGN has reached out to Microsoft for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Everything We Know About Project Scarlett
For more on Xbox Project Scarlett, read about how Microsoft intends for it to play every Xbox One game ever, and check out everything we know about Project Scarlett, including its release date window and more.
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Colin Stevens is a news writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.