In the buzz around Project Scarlett, the long-rumoured next-gen Xbox console revealed at last week's Xbox E3 presser, a lot of us missed the fact that most of the conversation has been talking about a single console. What happened to the two-tier version of the project? Are we getting one console or two?
In the initial rumours, Project Scarlett consisted of two consoles — the high-end performance beast codenamed Anaconda and the stripped-down cheaper option codenamed Lockhart. Yet in the Xbox E3 briefing and in subsequent interviews, Project Scarlett was mostly referred to as a single console solution. Given that the vague sizzle reel for Scarlett talked so much about the power of the new tech, we'd have to assume that the developers were talking about the Anaconda element of the original rumour.
The rumblings of Lockhart either being cancelled or simply not being what we thought it was has been exacerbated by a recent interview of Phil Spencer by Business Insider's Ben Gilbert. The stand-out moment in this interview is when Gilbert deliberately presses Spencer on the existence of two consoles within the Scarlett concept. Here's Spencer's response to E3 2018's claims of multiple "consoles" in the works:
"Last year we said consoles, and we've shipped a console and we've now detailed another console. I think that's plural."That "shipped" console isn't a new console by most people's standards, unless you think just taking the disc drive out of a box makes it a dramatic new concept. Gilbert clearly thought the same, but Spencer held his ground: "Technically that is plural".
Spencer didn't comment any further, except to say that Project Scarlett is the focus at this time. It would make sense given the less than stellar response to the disc-less Xbox One that Lockhart might have been scrapped. There's also rumblings that Sony's next generation console — still not officially teased, let alone discussed in detail — will be more powerful than what Scarlett is purported to be. If that's the case, the Xbox team may well be better off trying to make Scarlett as appealing a prospect as possible, both in terms of tech and marketing. Splitting that effort into two products — which could end up confusing customers at retail — may now seem less of a priority than making sure Scarlett — or Anaconda, or whatever — looks and plays as impressively as possible.