Credit: Ebb Software
We actually first saw Scorn a long time ago. The creepy, H.R. Geiger-inspired Xbox exclusive was one of the games Microsoft showcased in its Xbox Series X showcase the other week, but we actually saw it for the first time back in 2017, and it’s been on Steam a while. That makes it already sort of an interesting case for a next-gen showcase, but it’s also interesting for another reason. It’s going to be next-gen exclusive, only available on Xbox Series X and PC.
The reason is what you would expect. The reason for being exclusive to Microsoft seems to be purely-business related, because that’s just how exclusivity works. But the reason for being next-gen and PC exclusive is that previous-generation hardware simply wouldn’t provide players with the experience that the developers are envisioning. Developer Ebb Software wrote about it on the game’s Steam Page (h/t to Lvl 1 Gaming for spotting):
“We really don’t want to spend development time on what would from a technical standpoint (900p resolution, frame rates dipping below 30fps) be a sub-par version of the game and overall not a good experience.”
What’s interesting here is that Microsoft itself has a policy of making all of its first-party games available on the Xbox One and Xbox One X for the foreseeable future. We can also expect most large-scale third-party games— think Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077—to be cross-gen for a little while. Those games are phenomenally expensive to make, and no third-party publisher can really afford to sell something that big exclusively to the limited install base of a brand-new console.
So that means smaller, third-party games like Scorn become one place where we’ll see games that would not have been possible on previous-gen hardware, and those are going to be some of the most interesting to watch in these early days when PS5 and Xbox Series X are just getting started.
Last week’s Unreal Engine 5 demo was our first glimpse of what next-gen graphics might look like at some point, doing so with a demo designed to look like a major AAA game. But those tools aren’t, by any means, exclusive to the biggest games out there. I’m much more excited to see how new tools and technology will empower smaller developers and more nimble teams, and it seems like those teams are also going to be some of the most interesting to watch when new hardware lands in the fall.