Thursday, January 26, 2012

Xbox "720" Rumours

Thanks to Huffington Post, IGN, Kotaku and a few other gaming sources, some rumours about the next generation Xbox - the "720" (not what it will be called, but it is what people have dubbed it for the moment) - are starting to be solidified.

There are a couple that are intriguing, but the most argued over seems to be the release date. The most recent guess, according to the aforementioned sites, seems to be in the late quarter of 2013. Sure this is a year after Nintendo releases it's new Wii U later this year, but that's no biggie.
This means we have a full year to enjoy our current games before, basically, we never play them again and use only things for the new console - which is, unfortunately, really seems to be how all this ends up working.

Another intriguing development, according to a Kotaku insider, is that the new console will come equipped with a Blu-Ray player and the "Kinect 2", a new version of the motion-detector gaming add-on for Xbox 360. It's said that it will have an on-board processor that "would enable a new Kinect to more effectively detect users' motions". So, you know, be better at doing what it's supposed to do. Good news. Not that the original Kinect is bad, mind new, but it is limited.

Numbers and letters concerning the new consoles power are also being thrown around, some saying that the "720" will be 6 times more powerful than the 360, with Kotaku's source saying that that's "the right ballpark and that Microsoft is estimating they might even get to 8x the Xbox 360". 8 times the power. The thing is already pretty damn powerful, I can only imagine what's coming next! And, knowing Xboxes (Xboxs? Xboxi?) as I do, the size of the power supply that comes with it with need its own liquid cooling system.

It is also said that the processor is being based off the Radeon HD 6670, which is currently released, which asks the question of whether the graphics on the machine will be out of date before it even hits the market. I have to trust the team at Microsoft that they know what they're doing, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Here's hoping they address that issue instead and be more like, you know, every other home electronic device currently on the market and won't need an external power supply at all. I have to tip my hat to Sony on this one in making an amazingly powerful and advanced gaming machine - with arguably better graphics than the 360 - that does not require an external power supply have the size of the console itself. Kudos.

By far the biggest development, however, has to be the fact that a purportedly reputable source from within Microsoft has said that they are working on software (or maybe its hardware, it's unclear) that will prevent the console from playing used games. This would kill business like Game Stop and reduce revenue from your local game stores like Game, JB Hi-Fi and EB. They are "unsure how they will implement the system" but Luke Plunkett of Kotaku seems to find that he understands the movement towards this kind of technology.

"In fact, if it ends up being correct, it makes total sense. Why? Over the past year we’ve seen developers, publishers and then even platform holders like Sony embrace the idea of the “online pass”, a concept designed to either prevent game trade-ins or get more money out of those skipping new purchases," he writes.

"It’s a movement that, as time goes on, will only pick up steam. And now that nearly all major publishers are on-board with the idea in one form or another, the next logical step is to embed the practice in gaming hardware."
 While he's right, it would severely limit your ability to lend your games to friends and family or any of the behaviours that gamers have so embraced in our culture.

Wired's Chris Kohler says it's possible that the games will be a hybrid of the disk, which will contain the content and likely a unique access code, and downloadable, one-user-only games like for phones and tablets.

No one knows for certain that any of this is spot on but, as the speculation of commenters is being slowly confirmed in one way or another by their contacts in the industry, I am certain that what is true is that when the "720" does come out, it will be an entirely new gaming experience to what we are used to now.