Next XBOX: Everything We Know & What To Expect

 Next XBOX reveal
We are just a few days away from Microsoft’s next gen XBOX reveal.

On May 21st, the publisher will present the follow up to what is considered the most successful platform of the current generation in terms of sales, titles, fan base, online options and developer support.

It’s a world away from when they launched the original XBOX in 2001 where they were seen as an out of touch intruder attempting to cynically muscle their way in to the lucrative gaming market. Now XBOX is a cornerstone of gaming and many features we know take for granted such as shipping every system with HDDs, a fully specced online network and non gaming apps are all a result of Microsoft’s XBOX teams tireless efforts.

So what’s next?

We’ve seen the PS4 revealed to the world and Nintendo released their next gen system Wii U in 2012.
Now its Microsoft’s time to shine. There has been a lot of speculation and rumours – here are some of the key talking points that will see if Microsoft is ready to win the next generation:

Always Online

The most controversial rumour is that the next XBOX will require an always on online connection. And that this might mean second hand titles are shut out. I can’t see this happening as there are too many regions – even “first world” ones- that have substandard internet speeds and unreliable connections. I can imagine though that the new XBOX will make heavy use of online connectivity with XBOX Live 3.0 and do everything they can to prove that next XBOX is better when always connected.

Kinect 2.0

Kinect, formerly Natal, was lunched with a lot of hype and has sold very well but in terms of actual software didn’t deliver big and has kind of fizzled out. Microsoft will seek to rectify that in a big way by shipping the sensor with every system. This will mean every developer will be able to incorporate Kinect in every title – something which Microsoft will no doubt encourage them to do. Some predict the system may not even operate if Kinect isn’t calibrated so expect every menu, UI, service, app and game to have some kind of Kinect support. The sensor itself will also be upgraded with partial finger tracking as well as tracking for multiple users simultaneously. Eye tracking might also be on the way which is a big step up from the original!

Kinect 2.0 Stats

Hardware

It looks like the next XBOX will be packing similar specs to the PS4, though some developers have commented on the PS4 having more RAM. The PS4 is also easier to develop for than the PS3 so we might see more multi format titles developed this generation where the XBOX is not the lead platform.

First Party Content

Microsoft knows what their fans want and will deliver on this. Expect big new IP from their core studios. Though we might not see Halo or Gears or Fable that soon considering all of them have had instalments in the past year…

Third Party Exclusives

Back when the XBOX 360 launched, Microsoft did a big deal to ensure XBOX was the premier platform for Grand Theft Auto 4 and later made sure all of Call of Duty’s DLC was initially exclusive to XBOX. Although I am sure there will be more of these kinds of deals I doubt we will see many third party full exclusive titles. The industry has changed and as gaming development costs shoot up astronomically, publishers and developers need to make sure their content is on as many platforms as possible. In my opinion this time around if it ain’t first party it ain’t exclusive.

Media Hub / Apps

Microsoft has been leading the way here for some too. Expect this to be a big selling point as they announce big name partnerships with content and services providers as well as  popular apps. The XBOX, more than any other system, will be presented as THE media and entertainment hub for everyone to enjoy – and not just a gaming system. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more exclusive content and partnerships including content produced just for XBOX. Also expect SmartGlass to be incorporated much like Kinect 2.0 with as many games, and services as possible.

The Controller

Expect more of the same. The XBOX 360 controller is probably the most popular one around right now and I would be surprised if there are many big changes.

The Discs

Blu-Ray expanded to maybe 100GB seems to be likely. Funny to think back all those years ago when Microsoft was fighting against Sony and supporting the doomed HD DVD format.

The Price

One of the rumours is that the next XBOX will offer a subscription version at a lower price in addition to the traditional full sale version. There are rumours of a price point of $300 – $500. $500 is a quite a lot and Microsoft will be careful not to overprice it and face the same situation Sony found itself in when the PS4 launched at an over-the-top $600. If the PS4 launches at around $400 then I can imagine Microsoft following suit. Both platforms will include Kinect and Move bundled so both packages will be pretty similar.

The Release

PS4 is slated for “holiday 2013” in the US, Japan and key European regions. Expect the same for the XBOX and more emphasis on the UK where the XBOX 360 has enjoyed a lot of success. The question now is which will release first? The PS4 or the Next XBOX?

IllumiRoom

Ok this section is pure speculation but might we see the living room being transformed into the game space with IllumiRoom? If Kinect was version one of their immersive technology then Kinect 2.0 combined with IllumiRoom could be huge… if it works well.

The Name

Durango, NextBox, XBOX 720, XBOX Infinity. Or maybe just simply: XBOX. The brand is so strong now they can call it anything. People refer the XBOX 360 simply as XBOX so maybe it makes sense to just call the new system by the same name?

The Event

Don Matrick the usual E3 host will be presenting once again. Don is a pretty engaging guy and has a very laid-back style, so this should be a good show.  I would also imagine they will show off the final box – if only to get one over Sony who were widely mocked for not showing off the PS4 case back in February.

XBOX’s Major Nelson aka Larry Hyrb tweeted a preview of the location – looks pretty imposing!

So that’s my take. On Monday 21st May all will (hopefully) be revealed! I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us!

 Exciting times ahead!

Will you be watching the Next XBOX reveal? Do you think Microsoft is going to deliver big? Let me know!

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