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HD Report | April 23, 2017

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What is a Realistic Sales Figure for Project Scorpio?

What is a Realistic Sales Figure for Project Scorpio?
Matthew Byrd

Everyone has been buzzing about Microsoft’s Project Scorpio console this week. While there is still so much about the console we don’t know, Scorpio’s recently revealed do at least tell us that Microsoft is preparing to unleash a console of unprecedented power upon the gaming world.

Even those who aren’t necessarily thinking about buying Scorpio can’t help but be curious about it. What kind of visuals can this console produce? Will Scorpio represent the moment that gaming went fully 4K? It is going to forever change the expected power level of consoles?

Of course, at some point, the real question does become,”How many people are actually planning on buying Scorpio?”

That’s a fascinating question that is a little difficult to accurately answer at the moment due to the simple fact that we don’t know Scorpio’s price. If Scorpio is an incredibly expensive console, that might severely impact its chances on the market. If it’s a surprisingly affordable console, Microsoft could move a few extra million units based on the sheer value of the device alone.

Honestly, though, both of those extremes seem unrealistic. We know that Scorpio is intended to appeal to enthusiasts, but even enthusiasts are going to balk at a console that costs more than $499 unless it has something to offer that we can’t even comprehend.

Assuming Scorpio does fall into that price range, how many units can Microsoft realistically expect to sell? To answer that, you need to understand the history of powerful consoles.

Historically speaking, power does not immediately equal sales success. The Wii was the weakest console of its generation by some degree, and it outsold the competition by millions of units. The Sega Saturn was way more powerful than the PlayStation, and it didn’t come close to matching the PlayStation’s sales figures.

You can’t really compare Scorpio to those consoles, however. They were new generation systems and Scorpio is a current generation upgrade. That hasn’t been a popular technique since the ’90s, and Scorpio will surely be more successful than a flop like the Sega CD which sold just over 2 million units.

Actually, the only console that you can fairly compare to Scorpio is the PlayStation 4 Pro. So how is the PlayStation 4 Pro doing? It’s difficult to tell.

Sony hasn’t revealed the Pro’s exact sales figures – which isn’t a great sign – but we do know that over 6 million PlayStation 4s have been sold since the Pro was released. It’s believed that the Pro is responsible for around 2 to 2.5 million of those sales.

So can Microsoft expect similar success? It’s highly unlikely. It’s almost a guarantee that Scorpio will be more expensive than Pro, which is a disadvantage no matter how you spin it. More importantly, though, it’s just not realistic to expect Scorpio to outsell PS4 Pro when the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One almost 2-1. Since there are no exclusive Scorpio games, the majority of consumers will already own an Xbox One.

All that being said, it’s entirely possibly that it could take months for Scorpio to even sell 1 million units. At launch, the sales number could be as low as a couple hundred thousand.

You have to believe that Microsoft has something up their sleeve, but if these numbers hold true, then you have to wonder how many more “enthusiast” consoles we’ll see.


  1. bob tart

    The Saturn was MUCH less powerful than the PS1 at 3d graphics. That’s coming from someone who hated the PS1.

    • Matthew Byrd

      Interestingly, the Saturn was more powerful than the PlayStation from a hardware perspective. However, it was incredibly difficult to develop for.

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