Right back to the original rumors
In all of its messaging around the next generation of Xbox, Microsoft has spoken broadly about a machine that’s capable of impressive feats. Ray-tracing, framerates up to 120fps, 8K resolution support, lightning fast load times thanks to an SSD — all of these are things that Xbox boasts.
However, it turns out that this might not be applicable to all of Project Scarlett. According to a new report from Kotaku, Project Scarlett is an umbrella codename that encapsulates two different consoles. The first is Project Anaconda, which is the machine that’s described above and can be thought of as a traditional gaming console. The other is Project Lockhart, which skims on some features in exchange for a more attractive price point.
Project Lockhart is said to be sans disc drive, meaning that it’s only capable of playing digital games. As Microsoft leans further into Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud game streaming, it seems as though Lockhart will be the machine that’s advertised for those needs. Besides the omission of a disc drive, it’s expected that Lockhart won’t have quite the impressive specs of Anaconda. Predictably, they’ll be offered at different prices, but Microsoft hasn’t yet talked about next-generation costs.
As for the gulf between Anaconda and Lockhart, there’s only one performance target mentioned that might clue us into Microsoft’s expectations. It’s said that developers should aim to get their games running at 4K resolution at 60fps on Anaconda. On Lockhart, they should try for 1440p and 60fps.
This approach isn’t exactly a sweeping strategic shakeup from Microsoft. In fact, it’s basically already happening with Xbox One X and Xbox One S (especially the All-Digital Edition). Consumers have evidently found value in a range of consoles of differing power and price. It’s sound enough to bring it forward into the next generation of Xbox.
This is hardly the first time Scarlett’s two-pronged approach has been discussed. Before Scarlett’s official reveal at E3 2019, the commonly-accepted speculation is that Microsoft’s next Xbox would be dual-console. However, Microsoft talked about Scarlett as if it were a single machine, leading many to believe that the all-digital rumors were false or that plans had been scrapped. In hindsight, it seems as though Microsoft only mentioned Anaconda because it’s the higher-end console. If Microsoft’s going to skimp on the details, it might as well do so in a way that puts its best foot forward for now.