Here Comes the Next Xbox
Microsoft's next Xbox will be revealed in a series of events in the first half of 2013
Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed that the next Xbox video game console, codenamed Durango, will be revealed to the public at a special event at its Redmond campus on May 21. That event will kick off a multi-event unveiling which will continue through June, and then the release of the device, which is expected in early November.
On March 28, I exclusively revealed via Twitter that Microsoft had changed the original reveal date for the next Xbox from April 24 to May 21. So yesterday’s confirmation is interesting for two reasons, the least obvious of which is that it came on April 24, the original date that the firm intended to reveal the next Xbox.
Here’s what I know about the next Xbox (along with some clearly-identified conjecture).
Early announce. The initial reveal date was pushed back from April 24 to May 21 so that Microsoft could better position the device against the PlayStation 4, which Sony announced in late February.
Full (end user) announce. Microsoft will fully reveal details about the next Xbox, including the launch lineup of games, on the eve of the E3 tradeshow in early June 2013.
Developer announce? It appears that Microsoft will discuss the next Xbox developer platform at the Build conference in San Francisco in late June, based on clues on the Build web site.
Launch. The next Xbox will launch in early November 2013.
Core. The next Xbox is based on the "Core" (base) version of Windows 8. This suggests a common apps platform or at least one that is similar to that used by Windows 8, and further than Microsoft could open up this platform to enthusiast developers. (That last bit is supposition on my part.)
Price. Microsoft will initially offer two pricing models for the console, offering a standalone version for $499 and then a $299 version that requires a two-year Xbox LIVE Gold commitment at an expected price of $10 per month.
No entertainment box. Microsoft originally planned to offer both a “full” version of the next Xbox (with video game playing capabilities) and a lower-end entertainment-oriented version, codenamed “Yuma,” that did not provide video gaming capabilities. But plans for Yuma are on hold and no pure entertainment version of the next Xbox will appear in 2013 (or possibly ever).
Blu-ray. The next Xbox will include a Blu-ray optical drive.
Internet-connected. The next Xbox must be internet-connected to use. This is source of the “always on”/“always online” rumors and isn’t as Draconian as many seem to believe.
Another Xbox 360. Microsoft will also deliver a third generation Xbox 360 console this year that will be significantly less expensive than the current models. The new 360 is codenamed “Stingray,” but it’s not clear if this device is required because the next Xbox isn’t backwards compatible, or because Microsoft simply wants a low-cost entertainment box alternative. (A third possibility, and to be clear these possible reasons are all speculative: The 360 simply has life left in it and with dwindling component prices in the 8 years since the original launch, the firm can still make money selling such a device.)
There’s a lot I don’t know, of course. The name is a big area of speculation, and while I’ve heard nothing official, I’d be surprised if they didn’t just called it Xbox. I’ve never seen the console, nor have any idea what it might look like. And in addition to the aforementioned confusion over backwards compatibility and the apps platform, there are questions around Kinect (which I understand is integrated and non-optional) and of course the fabled (and possibly imaginary) Xbox Surface tablet. We’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft announces—or a leak—to find out more.
On that note, Microsoft’s May event will be broadcasted live via Xbox.com, Xbox LIVE and broadcast on Spike TV if you are in the US or Canada.
Everything We Know About The Next Xbox
May 21. That's the day that Microsoft will, finally, put an end to all the rumours and speculation and heresay and whispers about the successor to the Xbox 360 and actually show us something.
Or at least tell us something. Either way, make it official.
More so than the reveal of the PlayStation 4 earlier this year, it will be a relief for those who follow the video game business on a daily basis because, more than any other system in living memory, it feels like we know everything about the system already.
Actually, no, it feels like we know too much. Years of leaks and rumours have painted an enormous, ever-changing landscape of what we think this new console will be about and how powerful it will be. There have been so many reports that they've all blurred into one unwieldy mess, made more cumbersome by the fact Microsoft has, until now, refused to even acknowledge the presence of a new console, let alone comment on it.
Ahead of this reveal, then, we figured now was a good time to round up everything we know - and everything we think we know - about the next Xbox. To make things easier, I've divided the rumours into three categories: those Kotaku (or other major outlets) have reported having heard from sources close to the development of the console, or the development of games for the console, those a little further afield, and thus to be taken with a few more grains of salt, and stuff we know absolutely nothing about.
Note also that much of the information you'll read below comes from Microsoft's internal development documentation for the console, which we've read.
What We Almost Certainly Know About The Next Xbox
- You will be using Kinect, whether you want to or not. The second (and vastly improved) iteration of Microsoft's Kinect camera won't just be shipping with every console, it'll need to be plugged in and calibrated for the machine to even run, suggesting a deep level of integration with the next Xbox's user interface.
- If the controller ain't broke, don't fix it. Microsoft's control pad for the next Xbox is described as a "natural evolution" of the current controller. Expect slight revisions, not major changes. Also, your 360 controllers won't work on the new console. Sorry.
- Specs. Specs. Specs. The next Xbox will run on custom hardware that includes an 8-core, 64-bit CPU running at 1.6ghz, an 800mhz DirectX 11.x graphics processor and, alongside them, various "custom hardware blocks" that are able to handle certain individual tasks, taking the strain off the main CPU. There's also 8GB of DDR3 memory (at least in dev kits), a 500GB hard drive and built-in wi-fi. Oh, and it'll also use Blu-Ray discs.
- Your friend in green. The Xbox Companion App, already available for the current generation, is being overhauled and improved, and will give your tablet or phone many of the same capabilities Nintendo uses for its Wii U control pad screen.
- It can juggle your games. Just like the PS4, the next Xbox will be able to "hot swap" between programs, and will also be able to pause your game like a phone does - freezing the exact moment you close it down - instead of the more traditional save-game system.
- Install on the go. You won't need to install games for the next Xbox. The system will do that for you while you play.
- Taking over your TV. The next Xbox has a HDMI in port, which it seems will be used to turn your console into a fully-functioning TV box.
- Goodbye, Durango. For years now, the console's working title/codename internally with Microsoft and developers has been "Durango". Hope you haven't gotten too attached to it, though, because come May 21, it'll surely be gone, replaced by the machine's actual name.
- It'll probably be out in 2013. Kotaku, and several other outlets, have all been told the machine will be out in time for the 2013 holiday season. At least in the US.
What We're Not Sure About The Next Xbox
- That it requires an "always-online" internet connection. This one's strange. We've heard from some sources that the console will definitely need to be online to start playing games. Others have said this isn't the case. Some are even suggesting that it's the console's entertainment and TV capabilities that will need this, not your games. Because of this confusion, it goes in the maybe pile.
- It might block you playing used games. It might not. While both Kotaku and Edge have heard from sources that the console could somehow block consumers from playing used games - presumably until they purchase some kind of "online pass" - we've yet to hear decisively on the matter. There's also the chance, like the "always-online" feature above, that Microsoft has tweaked - or even removed - the feature following negative feedback from customers.
- Xbox chat is gone. One interesting report from CVG said that the console's chat services would all be brought under the Skype brand umbrella. What's especially neat is that this raises the possibility of "asynchronous voice and video messages in next-gen Xbox Live".
- Games! Because the console is yet to be officially announced, no games have been officially announced. Several have danced around this, though, saying they're either coming for "next generation" consoles (without specifying) or that in addition to systems like the 360 and PS3, further platforms will be announced in the near future. Some of these games include the likes of Assassin's Creed IV, The Witcher 3, Watch Dogs and FIFA 14.
What We Have No Clue About
- What it looks like. To dissuade leaks, and to help track them down if stuff does spill out, Microsoft has covered its development consoles (and controllers) in what's essentially dazzle camouflage, which doesn't just help disguise the lines of the devices, but also identifies who owns each one.
- Xbox Live 2.0? Achievements? Dashboard? Most of what we know so far about the console has to do with its hardware and specifications. When it comes to things like Xbox Live, achievements and the next console's user interface, we're mostly in the dark.
That's it for the important stuff. Whether the information revealed by leaks, reports and sources over the past two years turns out to be true, mostly true or barely true, I guess we'll find out on May 21!
What We're Not Sure About The Next Xbox
That it requires an "always-online" internet connection. This one's strange. We've heard from some sources that the console will definitely need to be online to start playing games. Others have said this isn't the case. Some are even suggesting that it's the console's entertainment and TV capabilities that will need this, not your games. Because of this confusion, it goes in the maybe pile.