To end the Xbox E3 event, Phil Spencer teased the company’s next project, a new console that would deliver “true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR.” It’s coming in Holiday 2017, and it’s called (for now) Project Scorpio.
We don’t know too much about it yet, other than it will use an eight-core CPU with six teraflops of GPU power. When it comes out, you can use the same Xbox One and Xbox One S games and accessories to work with the Project Scorpio console.
According to Spencer, the reason for announcing Project Scorpio now was to give developers enough time to check it out and make games with the new hardware before it launches next year. More importantly, it’s a shot across the bow to the team at Sony and PlayStation, which are reportedly working on a new console, code-named “Neo,” which will support the 4K resolution as well as PlayStation VR.
If you're unclear on what exactly support for "VR" means here, you're not alone. There was no VR HMD announcement to go along with the Project Scorpio announcement, so it's not like this is a PSVR-style thing. However, there are some clues.
We spotted Todd Howard of Bethesda in the teaser reel saying that Project Scorpio could work with Fallout 4 VR, which means it would handle the Vive. A year ago, Microsoft demonstrated its marriage to the Oculus Rift by pledging that each would ship with an Xbox One controller and a wireless adapter for Windows. And we know that the Xbox One will essentially run Windows 10 as Microsoft creates it shared codebase for all devices.
Piecing together the above, perhaps Microsoft is making a hardware-agnostic play here. Maybe Project Scorpio will support both Vive and Rift (and OSVR HDK, for that matter), which would be a double coup. Not only would that allow an Xbox device to work with the HMD of your choice, it lets Microsoft avoid the trouble and expense of creating its own VR HMD.
Of course, Microsoft has the HoloLens, but that's a fundamentally different device than the Rift, Vive or OSVR HDK, and furthermore, the HoloLens is a completely self-contained mobile device.
No, for Microsoft, an HMD-agnostic approach may be the best way to compete against the closed-system PSVR.