New Xbox: Release Date, Price, Specs, and Features for Microsoft's "Scarlett" Consoles

An Xbox comeback might be incoming.

Xbox Scarlett

Microsoft is going for the gold with its highly anticipated new suite of next-gen gaming consoles. The company first stepped into the ring in 2001 with the original Xbox, and has since carved out a niche amongst console gaming’s elite trifecta, rivaled by only Nintendo and Sony. But there may be trouble brewing.

The rise of the Nintendo Switch, along with a flurry of recent PlayStation-exclusive games have taken a toll, and sent the current-generation Xbox One S and One X falling to third place in terms of market share. But as is the case with the Sony and the PS5, Microsoft is also said to be readying the Xbox One’s successor. If the most popular feature rumors are to be believed, it could have what it takes to help the Xbox series regain its place atop the console hierarchy.

The company is reportedly set to release two new devices: Xbox “Scarlett”, code named “Anaconda,” and something called “Lockhart.” It is also expected to drop yet another variant that would be a peer to the current generation Xbox One consoles, code named Xbox “Maverick,” which could completely do away with the previous console’s disc drives.

All three of these releases are expected to make the company’s upcoming xCloud game streaming service a key selling point. A report by Windows Central suggests at least one of the expected new consoles could arrive by summer.

xbox gaming
A new Xbox could be hear as early as May.

Here’s what we know about Microsoft’s upcoming console trifecta.

Xbox Maverick: Microsoft’s Budget Console

The first rumored console is codenamed “Xbox Maverick,” and has been described as a disc-less device that could be available for pre-order in mid-April 2019, followed by a launch as early as May 7, according to sources speaking to Windows Central.

This would make Maverick the first major console to ditch CDs or cartridges, and it could allow early owners to participate in the first public trials of xCloud, which are expected to kick off this year. Maverick is seen to be separate from next-generation Xbox consoles, sort of a piece of stop-gap tech to gain an early edge on Sony and Nintendo in the emergent game streaming category

Piers Harding-Rolls, the Director of Research and Analysis for Games at IHS Markit, tells Inverse that Maverick could be a low-cost console option to introduce gamers to its vision for xCloud.

“A disc-less version of the Xbox One, is an opportunity to offer a smaller, potentially cheaper device to target an audience that is happy to buy all content digitally,” he says.

Microsoft’s gaming revenue increased to $643 million during the holiday quarter of 2018, according to its most recent earnings report. But Sony remains the leader in the industry and Nintendo’s explosive growth thanks to the Switch has left Microsoft in a distant third, according to a November 2018 forecast by the Global Game Console Market Forecast.

The Xbox Maverick could be a bridge between Microsoft’s current-generation consoles and the upcoming Scarlett. Cloud gaming seems to be how the Xbox plans on setting itself apart from the PlayStation 5 and the rest of the gaming industry.

console company market stats
Could Microsoft bounce back with a focus on game-streaming?

Xbox Scarlett: Release Date

While the Xbox Maverick could satiate appetites for a newer, faster, smarter Xbox, gamers will likely still have to wait significantly longer for the full Scarlett launch. Harding-Rolls believes Microsoft’s next-gen consoles will be teased at this summer’s E3 convention, but they won’t be fully launch for at least another year.

“We have it in our forecasts from the end of 2020,” he says. “I think they’ll talk more about next-gen at E3 in June, but a proper unveiling may not come until the first half of 2020.”

Harding-Rolls also said he doesn’t believe that Scarlett will launch before the PS5, so expect both consoles to appear side-by-side like they normally have.

Xbox Scarlett: Price

There hasn’t been any word from Microsoft regarding what its Scarlett consoles will cost, but pricing it just right will be crucial. The Xbox One’s launch bundle retailed for $499, $100 more expensive than PS4 at launch. That decision is widely perceived as having contributed to a lag in sales for the Xbox relative to its biggest competitor.

Since the Scarlett consoles will come in a pair, Microsoft could strategically price the cheaper one to undercut the PS5 while allowing them to look to the higher-end version to sustain better profit margins.

The Xbox One X next to the Xbox One S.
The Xbox One X next to the Xbox One S. Scarlett will offer users two options straight out of the gate.

Traditionally, new consoles hover between $399 and $499. But seeing as Microsoft may shift its focus to streaming games, Scarlett could worry less about memory storage, which could make for a slightly cheaper console.

Xbox Scarlett: xCloud Beyond Xbox

While the console industry has traditionally been all about shipping as many units as possible, Microsoft might take a different approach this year. Just as Apple is turning to subscription services to offset dipping iPhone sales, the Xbox maker plans on doing the same with xCloud. In this case, hardware would be viewed as a gateway to pushing services sales, for example using a cheap console to get people hooked on xCloud before, say, charging extra to access the service on multiple devices.

This model also leaves Microsoft with the option of expanding its subscription revenue outside of Xbox-owners. It’s a goal that Phil Spencer, head of gaming at Microsoft, said is extremely important for the future of the company, in an interview with GeekWire.

Microsoft xCloud in action.
Microsoft xCloud could bring console titles to Android mobile devices and PCs.

“The business inside of games is really selling games, and selling access to games and content in means like that is the fundamental business,” he said. “So if you open it up, the more often people can play, the more they’re enjoying the art form. It increases the size of the business.”

Xbox Scarlett: Different Variants

In 2016, just a year after the Xbox One was first released, Microsoft also launched the Xbox One S, which was then followed by the Xbox One X in 2017. The S was a slimmer version of the original and the X improved on the One S’s specs. This time, the Xbox Scarlett is expected to come in two variants straight out of the gate, one codenamed “Anaconda” and the other “Lockhart.”

Anaconda is expected to succeed the One X as the high-end version of the Scarlett duo. Lockhart will be a lower-priced model, which will launch alongside Anaconda. Anaconda and Lockhart could also wind up being very similar.

(Speaking of variants) WATCH: This is the man who made Kingdom Hearts so confusing...and amazing. 

Xbox Scarlett: Graphical Specs

Both the Xbox Scarlett consoles are expected to more than double the Xbox One’s graphical capacity. Currently, the PS4 Pro’s graphical processing unit (GPU) is capable of 6 teraflops — meaning it can complete 4.2 trillion operations per second. Its successor is anticipated to be able to clock well over 10.7 teraflops.

“Word on the street is that Sony and Microsoft are aiming to be more powerful than Stadia,” Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier tells Inverse. But Schreier also advises gamers to take these predictions with a grain of salt, since the companies have likely not finalized their upcoming consoles’ specs. He also commented that both companies “are aiming higher than that 10.7 teraflops” in a forum thread Wednesday.

xbox gears of war
The Xbox Scarlett consoles' graphical capabilities could be crisper than ever.

Schreier is a trusted source for industry information and correctly leaked the Fallout 4 setting and game dialogue before the title was released.

It is also widely expected that Microsoft will aim for 4K resolution gaming and 60 frames per second across all of its consoles. Spencer, brought this issue up during an interview with Giant Bomb last summer.

“I think frame rate is an area where consoles can do more,” Spencer told Giant Bomb. “When you look at the balance between CPU and GPU in today’s consoles they’re a little bit out of whack relative to what’s on the PC side.”

We could see Xbox gaming edge closer to PC gaming’ graphics quality.

Xbox Scarlett: How Could It Compare to the PS5?

While the Xbox One has been struggling to compete with the PS4 recently, the Scarlett consoles’ cloud gaming capabilities could be their ace in the hole when they come up against the PS5. Sony is anticipated to heavily center its next console around VR, which might prove to be its downfall.

Ben Arnold, the senior director of innovation and trends at the Consumer Technology Association, previously told Inverse that a mobile streaming service could appeal to more consumers than the PS5’s VR capabilities. That’s simply because VR has yet to be widely adapted.

xbox games
Forget about finding a place to stack all of your game boxes. Xbox Scarlett will focus heavily on digital purchases.

“The timeline [for VR] is a little bit extended because we’re still up against the desire to have great content as a way to drive more hardware adoption, but the content can’t get funded until there’s more hardware,” he said. “As that gets figured out, all of this momentum in streaming, cloud, and subscription services will develop.”

This could set the stage for an Xbox comeback.

Xbox Scarlett: New Games

Here are a few potential game releases that could come soon after the launch of the Xbox Scarlett consoles:

  • Halo Infinite
  • Elder Scrolls 6
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • FIFA
  • PES
  • Battlefield

There are many more titles to come, and once xCloud has been finalized ordering a hard copy of them will be a thing of the past.