Rumors are flying today that Microsoft plans to reveal two new models of the XBox One at their E3 presentation. One model will be a smaller and cheaper version of the console we have today. The other will be an upgraded version with a bigger hard drive and more powerful GPU. Sony is reportedly planning something similar for its Playstation 4.
Why? If you believe the reports, it’s to support the extra horsepower that VR goggles like Oculus Rift (XBox) and Playstation VR (PS4) need to run. Microsoft’s boss, Phil Spencer, has also made comments in the recent past about desiring to bring consoles in line with the incremental upgrade system that every other electronic product adheres to: a slightly better phone, a slightly better TV, etc.
This practice is nothing new if you’re a Nintendo fan. That company has commonly revised its handheld devices over and over in between releasing new ones. The key difference, however, is this: Nintendo tends to leave out something important from the original model that people want, and then include it in the revised version….for example, the original Game Boy Advance had no backlight, so everybody traded it in for the GBA SP. The 3DS had no second thumbstick or headtracking, so people were willing to pay for those upgrades. This is important because aside from cosmetics, those models very rarely sport exclusive games.
It’s likely the upgraded XBox One and PS4 will work similarly, to avoid fracturing the market and pulling a Sega. So….no exclusive games, probably. And if the main reason to upgrade to a slightly more powerful console is to support VR goggles, will that be enough? Unlike the ability to see your game or control the camera, it’s something gamers can easily do without.