The next-generation Xbox could be even more different than we thought

Phil spencer microsoft xboxGetty Images/Kevork DjansezianMicrosoft Xbox head Phil Spencer

Microsoft is planning a new, mega-upgraded Xbox console for the 2017 holiday season, code-named “Project Scorpio,” with the promise that it will play all of the existing Xbox One games on the market.

But fulfilling that promise may be more complicated than we thought, judging from a new job posting originally spotted by perennial Microsoft tipster WalkingCat on Twitter. And it gives us a big hint into just how different this Project Scorpio will be.

That posting, for a Senior Software Engineer on the Microsoft Xbox Compatibility team, starts off with the following description:

“We are the Xbox Compatibility team. Our mission is to bring the 360 game catalogue to the Xbox One, and Xbox One catalogue to Project Scorpio.”

The reference to the Xbox 360 makes sense here: Select games from the last-generation Xbox 360 video game console are playable on the current Xbox One, thanks to special software called an “emulator.” The emulator essentially “tricks” the Xbox One into thinking it’s an Xbox 360, making it possible to play those games.

Project scorpio new xbox oneMicrosoftOur first glimpse of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio

This job posting hints that it will take some similar trickery to get Project Scorpio to play the current generation of Xbox One games. This indicates that whatever else Project Scorpio offers, it has the potential to be radically different than the existing Xbox One, at least in terms of the hardware it sports under the hood.

Assuming Microsoft holds to its promise that all Xbox One games will be playable on Project Scorpio, you as the player won’t notice much of a difference. But emulation adds a layer of technical complexity that makes it difficult to get old games running on new hardware — that’s why not every Xbox 360 game can run, or run smoothly, on the Xbox One.

Microsoft is pitching Project Scorpio as a “monster” of a game console, bringing a lot more graphical power to the table that promises to far outstrip the Sony PlayStation 4, while simultaneously bringing the Xbox One games library into the future. It’s just looking like it could be a difficult balancing act for Microsoft.

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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