Xbox Scarlett: Release Date, Price, & Features for Microsoft's Streaming-Focused Console

A glimpse of Scarlett could be here soon.

Xbox Scarlett

Microsoft first stepped into the video game console industry in 2001 with the release of its original Xbox. Since then, the company has cemented itself as offering one of the three most iconic console makers, whose only peers are Sony (PlayStation) and Nintendo, with its imaginative suite of hardware.

The rise of the Nintendo Switch in particular, along with a flurry of recent PlayStation-exclusive games have caused the current-generation Xbox One S and One X to lag behind the competition. But as is the case with the Sony and the PS 5, Microsoft is also said to be readying the Xbox One’s successor.

Microsoft is rumored to be working on two variants for its next-generation Xbox “Scarlett console, code named “Anaconda” and “Lockhart.”

Both variants of the Scarlett console are expected to leverage the company’s upcoming xCloud game streaming service. A report by Windows Central this week stated that Microsoft might also give Xbox fans a taste of its cloud-gaming platform as soon as May.

Here’s everything we know about Xbox Scarlett:

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

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 April 2019, according to sources speaking to Windows Central. It would be the first major console to ditch CDs or cartridges, and it might even let owners participate in 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.

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

“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 saw an increase of $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 serve as 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 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 doesn’t believe that Scarlett will launch before the PS5, so expect both consoles to appear side-by-side like the normally have.

Xbox Scarlett: Price

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

Since the Scarlett consoles will come in a pair, Microsoft could strategically price the cheaper one under the upcoming PS5 and the higher-end version could be priced competitively.

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 the $399 to $499 price range. But seeing as Microsoft is focusing on streaming games, Scarlett could focus less on memory storage which could lead to 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 is planning on doing the same with xCloud, by opening its doors to other platforms. For instance, PC and Android mobile phones could run the streaming service

Opening xCloud beyond the console would enable Microsoft to expand 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.

“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.”

Microsoft is expected to offer more details about xCloud during the Game Developers Conference on March 21.

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

Xbox Scarlett: Different Variants

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

Anaconda is expected to succeed the One X as the high-end version of the Scarlett duo. Lockhart will be a lower-powered model, which will launch alongside Anaconda. And both could actually be fairly similar.

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

Xbox Scarlett: Specs

There haven’t been any rumors or leaks about actual specs for the upcoming Scarlett consoles. But it’s widely expected that Microsoft will be aiming to bring 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 games
Forget about finding a place to stack all of your game boxes. Xbox Scarlett will focus heavily on digital purchases.

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.