Phil Spencer: Xbox Scarlett Won't Give Up An Inch To PS5 In Performance Or Positioning

XBox Phil Spencer
The console wars will enter a new field of battle late next year when Microsoft's Project Scarlett goes up against Sony's PlayStation 5. It is a war that will not be won by either side in short order. However, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has made it clear that things will be different next time around, and that Project Scarlett will be competitive in power and price.

Comparing the current generation gets a little fuzzy because there are so many different iterations, and at this stage of the game, prices can fluctuate wildly (particularly with Black Friday right around the corner). But if we look at sales, the PS4 is the clear victor—it recently breached 100 million units sold, reaching the achievement faster than any other game console ever.

For the next round, Spencer does not want Project Scarlett to start at a competitive disadvantage, compared to the PS5.

"I would say a learning from the Xbox One generation is we will not be out of position on power or price. If you remember the beginning of this generation we were a hundred more expensive and yes, we were less powerful. And we started Project Scarlett with this leadership team in place with a goal of having market success," Spencer told The Verge.

Microsoft still is not getting into specifics, though we know Project Scarlett will be built around custom AMD silicon based on the company's Zen 2 CPU and Navi GPU architecture. It will also feature solid state drive (SSD) storage.

Sony has confirmed the PS5 will support real-time ray tracing on the hardware level, and from Spencer's comments, we can surmise the same will be true of Project Scarlett (Microsoft had previously confirmed ray tracing is in the plans, but did not clarify if it would be software or hardware support).

Microsoft has also gone on record saying Project Scarlett will support 8K resolution gaming, variable refresh rates, and up to 120 frames per second in games.

It all sounds enticing, if not perhaps overly ambitious—today's GPUs have a hard enough time with 4K resolution gaming, so it will be interesting to see exactly what kind of gaming experiences Microsoft and Sony think their next-gen consoles can deliver at 8K. The bigger point, however, is that Microsoft does not want to concede any ground to Sony when the next-gen consoles arrive.

Spencer also discussed the future of game consoles in general, and whether Project Scarlett might be the last go-round for Microsoft. It probably won't be, according to Spencer.

"We had the discussion years ago ‘do we want to go do another generation?’ Yes, and do we think there will be multiple generations ahead of us? I actually think there probably is," says Spencer. "So we’re going all in. We’re all-in on Project Scarlett and I want to compete, and I want to compete in the right ways which is why we’re focused on cross-play and backward compatibility."

Game on, in other words.