Some Thoughts and Speculation on the Next Xbox

Bill Loguidice's picture

On Tuesday, May 21, we'll have the next Xbox announcement. Nintendo has obviously already played their hand with the Wii U, an intriguing, but possibly failed gamble on a mix of current gen technology with tablet paradigms, and Sony has shown much of what they'll be offering with the PS4, a "social" next gen console that emphasizes its access speed for everything from updates to getting to play games/demos without much, if any, delay. Interestingly, Microsoft was first out of the gate this current generation, but will be last to make their announcement thanks to positive momentum in the past few years (everywhere except Japan, of course).

In any case, the rumor mill has been quite active, obviously, with the usual mix of thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful claims. You can read all about those elsewhere, but here are my thoughts on what is and isn't likely:

Solid bets:
- Windows 8 core (makes sense and will offer quite a few benefits with few downsides--for all the bitching about the new interface, the core technology is stable and runs well on modest hardware)
- Price, $299.99 with a two year Xbox LIVE Gold membership, or $499.99 without one. In a world where we've become accustomed to signing contracts for everything from alarm systems to cable service to smartphones, it makes sense to susidize expensive new hardware with something that frankly you would need to maximize the new console anyway. For those who hate that idea, you simply pay more and you're free and clear. No big deal, but I bet you'll end up getting an Xbox LIVE Gold membership anyway.
- Blu-ray
- No backwards compatibility (see below for more on that)

Reasonable speculation:
- A next generation Kinect will be bundled in with every system. The only way this wouldn't work is if costs would be too high, but at $300 - $500, there's probably wiggle room for a $99 retail device to be included. Kinect improvements would include higher resolution, less latency, and more sensors, which would probably finally realize most of the original sensor's potential combined with the beefier technology in the console itself.
-The controversial "always on" requirement for an active Internet connection will be left up to the individual developer/publisher. We're already quite used to this (Steam as one example), and the current Xbox 360 already requires such a check for playing Indie games.
- 1080p 60FPS base target, except for 3D-enabled content.
- A slight redesign to the current Xbox 360 controller, with a better d-pad and perhaps a PS4-like touchpad in the middle. No Wii U-like screen.

My wild guess/hope:
- We already know there's going to be a cost reduced, redesigned $99 Xbox 360 to provide the backwards compatibility needs for those who are vocal about wanting it (as well as of course, a more competitively priced media box). Personally, I think this is where Microsoft can innovate the most. What if said $99 console snapped onto the side of the next Xbox and used the same power connector (like the Kinect does with the current Xbox 360 models) and audio-video connection? It could be detected much like the old HD-DVD drive and accessible just like any other add-on. This way you'd have backwards compatibility without sacrificing any of the next gen power of the new Xbox (just like Sony's clean break with the PS4). If you don't need it or already have an Xbox 360 or two, you simply don't bother with the extra expense.

Anyway, those are my thoughts based on the presently available information. I'd love to hear what you think, so sound off in the comments!

#XboxReveal

After the big reveal, we'll see how we all did...

Comments

davyK
davyK's picture
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Joined: 05/21/2006
Yeah - I find the tying of

Yeah - I find the tying of content to the device by Nintendo very annoying - the cynic in me states that its just a way of making people pay over and over again. But then the way content is going , the Spotify model may well take over the whole idea of owning anything. More nails in the coffin for collectors. So Nintendo probably aren't that far off what others are working toward.

Windows 8 seems fine to me its just that it's a bit late. The iPad caught everyone on the hop. People are getting used to having a cheap tablet and I can't see a premium for Apple's OS being a long term proposition, let along a Windows OS. Again it will all depend on what gets the content providers' backing.

Believe me, as a corporate user I can tell you that Microsoft are starting to concentrate quite a bit on auditing corporations - perhaps a sign of them chasing income to replace losses in Windows sales.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Paul Thurott has now

Paul Thurott of http://winsupersite.com/ has now clarified the $299.99 option that instead of $10/month subscription for two years, it will be $15/month for two years. Someone else has stated that this $15 includes four Gold memberships (for the family). You still have the $499.99 option without the subscription.

Certainly $15/month for two years is not a fantastic deal as that's $180 per year, or about $660 total with the system for two years, but that may include other perks and we're not sure what a standard Gold subscription will cost a la cart.

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
The next name of the Xbox is Xbox Fusion?

Xbox Fusion is not an entirely awful name for the Next Xbox: http://t.co/bKcdfy4ffC . It could also be the name of the rumored Windows RT Xbox-themed tablet...

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
"Confirmed" no to always on for Next Xbox

Here's the story of the internal memo leak: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/05/microsoft-next-xbox-will-work-even...

Again, I didn't believe it from the first rumor simply because it's not a practical requirement for a box such as that.

On a related note, I should have mentioned the HDMI input in my original blog post analysis. That's a natural given its intention to work with your cable/satellite box. That's how my Vizio Co-Star (Google TV) box works. It intercepts the cable box signal before going to the TV, so it can overlay things and interact with the experience. Naturally, this Next Xbox should be able to do a lot more with that. That also means you won't need an extra HDMI input, which I personally greatly appreciate and was the motivating factor for me to spring for the Co-Star at the time.

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