The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3) is little over 4 months away and as we draw closer to the biggest event of the gaming calendar, rumours of console specifications are well underway for both Microsoft and Sony. While many rumours of Sony’s next console venture have been positive, Microsoft has taken fire from several critics and members of the community alike with many of the rumours being seen as ridiculous or inferior compared to the PS4’s rumours.
To begin with, Microsoft’s next console doesn’t have a name as of yet but names such as Xbox Infinity, Xbox Loop, Xbox Durango and Xbox 720. All of these are possibilities at the moment but, of course, this shouldn’t really impact the public’s perception of the console. Two things likely to continue through to the next generation from the Xbox will be Kinect and the design of the controller. The Kinect was seen as a major selling point from Microsoft and wanted to build on the motion control fad which was created by the Nintendo-Wii.
Soon after release though, the community became fed up with the Kinect and to this day many remain covered in dust and unused since the hype of the ‘motion control revolution’ was released. There have been images and information being released that Microsoft had filed a patent to project 3D images onto the surroundings of your gaming environment. It has been rumoured that this project named ‘Fortaleza’ uses Kinect as its key function in order to take the next step into making the gamer feel like they are part of the game. For this generation, the Xbox 360 controller has been popular with both Xbox players and PC gamers alike as it can be used on either Xbox or PC and many believe that the design will continue onto the next-gen consoles.
If the controller were to remain the same as before, it would suit the majority of Xbox players as it did for the Playstation’s transition from PS2 to PS3 and would also continue to help the PC gamers who use the controller as well. The project ‘Fortaleza’ on the other hand may have a sense of déjà vu as on paper the system seems very promising and sounds like it will bring the gamer even closer to being inside their monitor or television. The sense of déjà vu will stem back to when the Kinect was unveiled and seemed to be an excellent accessory to all gamers but instead it failed to impress the wider audience as the Kinect exclusive releases such as Sesame Street, Disney Rush and Kinect Adventures have suggested. Project ‘Fortaleza’ does sound promising but whether it will win over the majority and actually enhance the player’s experience, only time will tell. It will be a crucial part of the next Microsoft console because many may lose trust (if they haven’t already) in Microsoft if they don’t deliver.
With Sony having outdone Microsoft in the current generation as far as console hardware is concerned, it is time for Xbox to play catch up with its nearest competitor. As many have rightly pointed out, one vital piece of equipment which the PS3 had as standard and the Xbox didn’t was the Blu-Ray player. With Xbox’s numerous ways of watching movies and TV shows through the many apps on Xbox Live as well as the HD DVD drive, none of these could compete with the quality which PS3 owners are now used to. It only makes sense for Microsoft to feature the best technology available so that it can attract all types of gamers whether they play games or use the console for multimedia purposes. As far as having to compete with Sony on all fronts of specifications and features is concerned, there are no features more important than graphics and processing power.
There are many things which the next Xbox could be in regards to graphics and processing power and the rumours seem to be endless are there are many possibilities. Recently, many had believed that the PS4 seemed to have more power in regards to the running power which the PS4 would have 1.84 teraflops compared to the Xbox’s 1.23 teraflops. Many have seemed to rate this as a victory for Sony but it has also been rumoured that the new Xbox will come with 8GB or RAM compared to the PS4’s 4GB. In any case, much like the current generation of consoles one console will have better specifications than the other although many have already made their minds up due to their allegiances to their Sony or Microsoft ‘Gods’.
‘Games on Demand’ has never been a huge success for the Xbox 360. Xbox Live Arcade has been a success and much like the ‘Games on Demand’ service, the Indie market has struggled too. Would the next Xbox be right to block used games on their systems? NO! It has been rumoured that retail games will ship with activation codes, make owners sign in online each time they switch the machine on and register the games. The pricing of online games for Microsoft and Sony at least will be very unattractive to gamers as they can get the same thrills on a PC and it costs far less on the PC compared to consoles. I am well aware that developers, producers and everyone else involved in a game need to make their deserved money but spending hours in your local game store rummaging through the used A-Z will be a thing of the past. For used games to be blocked from the next Xbox would shrink the consoles appeal and make gaming more expensive when systems such as the OUYA and Steam have gaming for free or cheaper in comparison.
Adverts on Xbox Live. The bane of everyone’s dashboard experience. While many are said to be put off by the influx of adverts on Xbox Live, will this continue onto the next generation? It probably will but I don’t believe it is a major problem. It doesn’t look the best and sometimes the adverts are overpowering but to find the things you are looking for isn’t difficult. It is a slight kick in the teeth that to join Xbox Live as a gold member you have to pay a subscription and on top of that get bombarded with adverts. It doesn’t affect your gaming that much does it? On the topic of Xbox Live, the latest rumour which I was made aware of recently was that you may have to be connected to the internet at all times in order to play the Xbox. If this is the case then they can kiss the next console war goodbye because the PS4 would have already won. It is true that many people have wireless broadband in their homes nowadays but that is no reason to make this console online only. A huge market will be missed as parents buy for their children to play only to find out they need to be connected to the ‘big bad internet’ which is more than reasonable. In the instance that your broadband is cut off or your router is broken, you won’t be able to play it then either. It makes no sense and my fingers are crossed to hope that this is merely a rumour and won’t come true.
All of the above information is rumours which keep the gaming community such as you and me talking about what we may see within the next few years. It seems as though Microsoft’s flagship console has the makings of a very good system with great ideas, good ideas and some poor ideas. All the gaming community can hope for is that Microsoft will appeal to each gamer out there whether young or old, broadband or broadband-less or whether they loves used games or not. It is a very exciting time ahead of which is due to be an excellent E3 event in June but until we have anything all we can do is play Chinese whispers.