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Kotaku: Microsoft Is Still Planning A Cheaper, Disc-Less Next-Gen Xbox

Spectromixer

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
5,413
USA
In June, Microsoft announced Project Scarlett, a new iteration of the Xbox that the company said would “set a new bar for console power, speed and performance.” What Microsoft didn’t say is that it is also working on a lower-cost, disc-less version of Scarlett, code-named Lockhart, according to four people briefed on the company’s plans.

If those names sound familiar, that’s because they’ve been floating around for a while. The earliest rumors about Microsoft’s next-gen roadmap, circa 2018, suggested that Project Scarlett would consist of two Xbox models: the high-performance Anaconda and the lower-end Lockhart. In June, however, Microsoft announced that Scarlett was a single, high-end console, which led to speculation and then press reports that Lockhart had been canceled. But Kotakuhas learned that Lockhart is in fact still in the works as a cheaper, digital-only alternative to Scarlett, as the original rumors suggested.
What we don’t know—and what likely isn’t finalized yet—is how the pricing will shake out. But it’s easiest to think of Anaconda as a successor to the Xbox One X and Lockhart as a successor to the Xbox One S, with a similar performance disparity. Game developers will be expected to support both Anaconda and Lockhart, which some are worried might hamper their ambitions for next-gen games in the coming years.
When speaking to Kotaku, one game developer briefed on Lockhart analogized it to the PlayStation 4 Pro in terms of raw graphical power, although there are other key differences that might make up for that. Lockhart is said to have a solid-state drive, like both Anaconda and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5, which is expected to have a significant impact on loading times. Developers briefed on Lockhart also say it has a faster CPU than any current video game console, which could allow for higher frame-rates, although there are other factors that might not become clear until the console is completely finalized, such as clock speed and cooling.



Microsoft’s ideal target performances are said to be 4K resolution and 60 frames-per-second on Anaconda and 1440p resolution and 60 frames-per-second on Lockhart. (That doesn’t mean that every single game on these consoles will live up to that performance—it’s the target that Microsoft is pushing developers to hit.)

Lockhart will also likely be heavily promoted with Microsoft’s burgeoning xCloud streaming service and impressive Xbox Game Pass subscription, which allows users access to a huge library of games both big and small, including all new first-party games. Both of those services fit nicely with a disc-less console, and Microsoft has already packaged Xbox Game Pass with the digital-only version of the Xbox One S, which launched earlier this year.
 

Goldenroad

Member
Nov 2, 2017
3,681
If they could put out a digital only version with no controller (since XB1 controllers will be supported), and that's what helps them get their price down to $399, I'd probably opt for that one.
 

BAD

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,534
USA
Hmm I hope this doesn’t happen at launch. I want Xbox to not be the brand that holds back multiplatform games this time.
 

RoboPlato

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,869
Interested to see how this shakes out. Hope it’s not lacking too much in CPU or RAM because that could hamper both Anaconda and PS5. If it’s only a GPU difference I could see it making sense.
 

gofreak

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,002
A PS4 Pro in graphical power? :/

The uncertainty about its CPU, whether it's just 'faster' than current gen CPUs per the article, or the same as in the higher end SKU, and this quote, are troubling:

Game developers will be expected to support both Anaconda and Lockhart, which some are worried might hamper their ambitions for next-gen games in the coming years.
I mean, this type of unit makes a lot of sense for the cloud business, for cutting costs to stream games to mobile vs using Anaconda hardware for that, but if it's hampering dev's hopes for what they can do next-gen, that is not good.
 

CloseTalker

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,840
Interesting. I wonder what this means for the possibility of a mid-gen refresh. Three separate SKUs on the market at once seems like a nightmare.
 

modiz

Member
Oct 8, 2018
7,261
so
  • lockhart is back, gpu performance roughly of a ps4 pro, has an SSD, faster CPU than any current gen console (not really hard)
  • anaconda targeting 4k 60, lockhart targeting 1440p 60
  • PS5 and Anaconda are around the same performance level and there is no clear winner between them
i really hoped lockhart didnt exist.
seems like MS solution to lockhart not gimping next gen is to make developers target such high resolutions and framerates that basically games wont look all that different from current gen....
 

Astandahl

Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,114
PS4 Pro gpu already struggles to maintain 1440p 30 fps in most current gen games... Lockhart is going to have a better CPU for sure but yikes...
 

Coda

Member
Nov 17, 2019
131
A PS4 Pro in graphical power? :/

The uncertainty about its CPU, whether it's just 'faster' than current gen CPUs per the article, or the same as in the higher end SKU, and this quote, are troubling:
They shouldn't support it then. MS will change their tune pretty quickly once third parties abandon their new platform I am sure.
 

Temperance

Member
Oct 25, 2017
737
Plenty of people demand next gen be no more then $399, here you go congrats.

Great strat in terms of having better sellthrough during the first year.
 

GreenEarth

Member
Oct 24, 2019
241
Scarlett HAS to be more powerful than PS5 for this 2 SKU strategy to make any sense, but rumours say PS5 is slightly edging out Scarlett at the moment. I can't help but feel like Lockhart will hold back multiplat titles and that's a bummer. Hopefully Lockhart has the same spec CPU and SSD as Scarlett and that it's only the GPU that is lower spec since graphics are much more scalable than the things dependant on the CPU and SSD speed.
 

Alive2007

Member
Aug 21, 2019
205
I was interested in an all digital Scarlett but being able to play delisted games I missed is worth more than saving $50 or whatever
 

DSP

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,178
After how well seemingly SAD is doing, it makes sense. These new consoles are going to be very expensive so having an option that is not about 4K and a lot cheaper is good. The complaints against it are simply gate keeping bullshit.
 

gofreak

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,002
They shouldn't support it then. MS will change their tune pretty quickly once third parties abandon their new platform I am sure.
It's not like they have a choice, if the publisher needs a sku for xbox - and they will, assuming any kind of decent marketshare - then there'll be a sku for xbox. At least up to a point, they'll pare back the game before they pare back the platform reach.
 

Ebtesam

Member
Apr 1, 2018
3,356
so
  • lockhart is back, gpu performance roughly of a ps4 pro, has an SSD, faster CPU than any current gen console (not really hard)
  • anaconda targeting 4k 60, lockhart targeting 1440p 60
  • PS5 and Anaconda are around the same performance level and there is no clear winner between them
i really hoped lockhart didnt exist.
seems like MS solution to lockhart not gimping next gen is to make developers target such high resolutions and framerates that basically games wont look all that different from current gen....
This lockhart isn't needed if it weaker than PS5 and Scarelet
 

FarisR

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,449
Cheaper discless or a streaming focused sku with only native xb1 support is fine, but significantly weaker console that you will require third parties to develop for? You can go fuck right off Microsoft. Hope you fail miserably.
 

xxracerxx

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
18,226
Rip out the disc drive and don’t pack in a controller and I can see them knocking off $75 (while taking a small hit themselves).
 

Morbius

Member
Oct 25, 2017
972
This actually kind of sounds like a nightmare for developers?

I know they kind of do this now with multiple consoles but saying it’s a PS4 Pro - PS5 in terms of power is a huge huge disparity if we just go according to leaks and confirmed specs and compare it on that baseline when it comes to these two models.