Even though the Xbox One and PS4 are still hitting their stride, and the Nintendo Switch is pulling in mean numbers on the marketplace, there’s already talk about what the next set of consoles will feature and what sort of game tech and specs gamers can look forward to when the consoles do launch. In this case, rumors are flying regarding multiple SKUs launching for the next generation Xbox.
Windows Central is reporting that there are two codenames for the two SKUs that will launch as part of the next line-up of Xbox home consoles. These consoles are tentatively being called “Anaconda” and “Lockhart.”
So, the consoles will come in two different SKU types, one is a cost-effective unit that will be a next-gen successor to the Xbox One S console codenamed Lockhart. It’s also being referred to as an S2 class console (the ‘2’ representing the second generation of the Xbox One S). It will be slightly cheaper than the other beefier console, which is codenamed Anaconda. The Anaconda is being classified as the X2, which relates to being the second generation of the Xbox One X, which is the beefy 4K UHD successor to the Xbox One S. According to the report, the Anaconda will be the lead development platform, which will offer developer kits to the studios working on games for the system.
The Lockhart will be equivalent in power to the Xbox One X, which is already a highly powerful and very under-utilized system. However, the Lockhart will supposedly have “refinements” made under the hood to likely cut costs somewhere. The Anaconda will move in the opposite direction, featuring cutting-edge technology to reduce load times and increase performance efficiency. I really hope this isn’t true because it means anyone purchasing the Anaconda is going to be shortchanged, since all games made for the new Xbox will be designed for the lowest common denominator first and then (sometimes) scaled upward. But, ultimately it means that developers still have to design low and then scale certain features up, and this could really work against a lot of potential scope and scale in games if Microsoft wants to maintain a 4K output standard, which is a resource intensive benchmark.
The better option would be to make the Lockhart fit in line with the other rumored discless console. For those of you who don’t know, Windows Central also goes over the rumor that there will be one final Xbox SKU released for the current generation that will be discless, and release in 2019. The rumors of the discless Xbox center around the system being an all-digital system that will supposedly come in at a lower price tag than the disc-based system. And, given that digital distribution has topped retail sales in annual revenue, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz, it’s not surprising that Microsoft would target a digital-only market for the next system.
Having the Lochart and Anaconda maintain similar specs would be the better option, and then removing the discs-drive to lower the price would be the preferable trade-off. This way, no one loses any performance overhead and there are no worries about the Lockhart holding back the potential of the Anaconda.
Anyway, what do you think of the rumors about a two-SKU launch? This would be a similar approach to what Microsoft used when launching the Xbox 360 with the Arcade and the Pro systems back in 2005, when one came with a hard drive and the other didn’t. Is it a smart move or would it potentially fracture the consumer market?