We Know What The Next Xbox Will Be

Microsoft decided to give Teabag or Die full, exclusive, early access to the new Xbox that will be announced this Tuesday. They made us sign a nondisclosure agreement, but this story is too big to not break. We can’t pass up the page hits…it’s like a drug.

Actually, what really happened is that I sent out an email to all the writers of TBoD asking for their answers to 19 questions regarding the rumors surrounding the new Xbox. I received 5 replies (including my own) that are being compiled into TBoD’s official Xbox Prediction. Crinbot, Eremenko, Salmonfin, The Quim Ninja, and The Wach all collaborated to determine how Tuesday’s Xbox announcement will pan out. Between the five of us, I believe we have a good shot at being the most accurate site out there giving our predictions. After Microsoft’s announcement, we will go through and grade TBoD’s predictions as well as each of our individual predictions. You can see our individual predictions here.

It is really interesting to see our answers and where we all agreed and when we had 3/2 split answers. I am very excited to see what happens on Tuesday!

PS There is a 20th question I wish I asked, but failed to think of it when I sent out the original list, so I am going to leave the 20th question up to our readers. Leave your answers in the comments below. Will the next Halo title be announced as a launch title?

  1. Required internet connection for “Always On” gaming
    • No. However, we believe studios will be able to require it on a game-by-game basis
  2. Kill off second-hand/used games
    • No
  3. Illumi-room
    • Yes. However, it will be offered as a separate peripheral.
  4. Updated Kinect
    • Yes
  5. Backwards Compatibility
    • Yes
  6. Cater to indie developers
    • Yes
  7. Name?
    • We have a two-way tie between Xbox Fusion and Xbox Infinity. But how is there a two-way tie among 5 voters, you ask. Because I guessed Infinite.
  8. Launch date month? Include an exact date for bonus points.
    • Our consensus is the last week of October or the first week of November. The average of all our estimates is October 23
  9. Blue-ray/HD capable optical drive
    • Yes
  10. Will there be an optical drive?
    • Yes
  11. 4K video capability
    • Yes
  12. Ability to start games/DLC while they are still downloading
    • Yes
  13. Improved controller
    • Yes, but only marginally
  14. Controller integrated with Kinect
    • Yes
  15. Hardware specs that beat PS4 on paper
    • No
  16. Ability to record gameplay & share
    • Yes
  17. Instant on capability
    • Yes
  18. Price range (no greater than $50)
    • All of our estimates fell within $400-$500 with our average at about $450.
  19. Runs full Windows 8
    • No
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The Next Generation Xbox: How Microsoft Could Nail It

DealWithIt

The next generation of consoles is coming in 2013. Technically, the next generation is here, but it’s embarrassing and Nintendo doesn’t want to talk about it. Sony announced the PlayStation 4 along with most of the details necessary for the gaming community to start salivating as well as a release date of “holiday season 2013.” And now the final (major) player sent out an announcement for the next generation Xbox reveal.

Microsoft’s next generation Xbox, codenamed “Durango” and rumored to be “Xbox 720” is the last console to be announced, but it is arguably getting the most attention. Yes, everyone is talking about the new girl next door and all her specs, but the rumors regarding the 720 (what I’ve decided to call it) have not let up. Some of the speculation became so hot as to boil over into an upper Microsoft manager being fired. It is quite enjoyable to see the beginnings of the latest battle in the console war take shape.

Microsoft is in a great position to strategically outmaneuver Sony and it will be interesting to see how they handle each of the strategic categories I will cover.

  • Always on – this would be strategic suicide. No one wants this. I used to be neutral on this point, but I have turned to the negative. Microsoft should not require gamers to always be connected to the internet to play games. Routers and modems break, the internet goes out, and the wires get dug up and chewed on by the dog. Don’t do it.
  • On that point, second-hand games. Should Microsoft kill off second-hand games? Sony and Microsoft are playing the corporate version of Chicken. No one wants to be the first to say their company is shutting down the used game market, but someone has to do it. However, the first console to admit to doing this will catch the most flack while the other can quietly slip into the club. I am a firm believer that the second-hand/used game market should be shut down. I touched on this idea before in an article I co-authored; money should go to the developers, not Gamestop et al. [I can be a grammar nerd] And I say this with sly humor with a touch of sarcastic reality: Deal With It.DealWithIt meme Developers should be clamoring for this as they need any revenue they can get and gamers should welcome it so developers have additional resources to produce more content. This would also provide a more recurring revenue stream for developers since they can reduce the games’ prices the further it is from release and still bring in sales.On a rabbit trail, Gamestop should be working their strategic asses off to develop a deal with developers to create a semi-second-hand market for next generation games. If they want to keep this as any part of their revenue stream, it would be wise to sign some overarching deal of sorts where they would pay developers their rightful royalty to any of the games Gamestop sells second-hand. I think Gamestop is in trouble for many more reasons, but at least they have other business lines.
  • Backwards compatibility – Sony established that the PS4 will not be backwards compatible; will Microsoft do the same? There are many sides to this question. Hardware wise, a whole new system will make it difficult to be backwards compatible, especially if Microsoft does it right and puts out some quality hardware. It is a difficult thing to do – we all witnessed the backward compatibility fiasco that was Xbox 360. On the other hand, gamers want backwards compatibility. Who wants to buy a new system with very few games available when the current consoles have thousands? The 720 will have a huge leg up on the PS4 if Microsoft makes the 720 backwards compatible.
  • Make the 720 something that can easily be coded on. There is a shift occurring in gaming – the coming of the casual gamer. This trend is mated with the coming of the independent developers. Just look at Journey winning Game of the Year at GDCA. Many of these indie games are on the PS3 platform exclusively even though the Xbox was meant to be a haven for these types of games. Microsoft should bend over backwards to gain the trust and, most importantly, games of indie developers. This is the future of gaming.
  • Make Kinect awesome. Make it magical. Make it something people would buy not because of the gimmick factor but because it is something we cannot game without. Create a contest for developers for the best implementation of Kinect and see what happens; two categories: indie and bigbox. Also, include it with every Xbox starting at release.
  • Do not call it the 720. I know, I, along with most of the game industry media, am already guilty of doing this, but I am tired of all this spinning and ending up exactly where we were. It is representative of a hamster wheel – working very hard with absolutely no progress. This is not the type of marketing Microsoft should desire in their product’s name. Take a cue from Apple’s marketing and call it: the new Xbox.
  • While we are talking of cues from Apple, here is another one: Announce the 720 – err…new Xbox – on May 21st and launch it on June 21st. This would send Sony reeling and it would be difficult to catch up from the momentum Xbox would build. Isn’t the holiday season a better release date? Perhaps, but a certain three month time period is about to begin where kids and college students have much more free time. I would not doubt parents would be willing to keep them entertained, quiet, and (hopefully) out of trouble. This brings me to my next point:
  • Have a formidable lineup of launch titles. Microsoft absolutely must get this right with a quick launch after announcement.
  • Here is my quick list of things Microsoft needs to at least match Sony on:
    • Improve the controller, but not too much (“don’t fix what ain’t broke”)
    • Integrate Kinect with the controller
    • Hardware specs
    • Share button
    • Instant on capability
    • Playing games/DLC while they are still completing their download
    • HD capable optical drive, most likely Blue-ray – Microsoft lost this battle, own it
    • 4K video capability. Microsoft should learn their lesson from my previous point

Microsoft could do some amazing things with the next generation Xbox, but will they? With their track record, it is difficult to predict what will actually happen. I look forward to the 21st to find out.

Let me know your thoughts on the next generation of consoles. Also, I love point and counterpointing in the comments. You can also find me on the social networks below.

Cheers,

The Wach

Twitter: @the_wach

Email: the.wach@ymail.com

PS: I do not own a PS3, but did own a PS2. I migrated to Xbox for two reasons: Halo and the PS controllers hurt my hands after 20 minutes of gameplay. The PS4’s controllers look like they may be more ergonomically pleasing for me.

PlayStation 4 Incoming.

PS4

Just under a month ago, the head honcho of Sony`s big muscly console arm said that they were waiting for the boys at Redmond to make the first move in the next gen console bout, prior to that 2015 was the date being banded about. I’ll admit I was suckered by this porky pie, so it came as a bit of surprise that they were taking the first leap into the pit of next gen, however given the fact that the massive delay between the release of the 360 and the PS3 cost them dearly in sales, then it makes sense that Sony would try and get in there early. Even the staunchest PS fanboy would admit the arms race has been tough for Sony the past 8 years, with them only matching Xbox sales at the end of last year, so in my opinion the big guns are required if they are to reclaim the might of their dynasty from the Age of PS2. In their own words this event is ‘a moment of truth’.

So post announcement is the PlayStation 4 a big gun? Well in short yes, the conference on Wednesday showed the new PS4 to be a really massive fuck off howitzer. The conference itself for the most part was as dry as a nuns chuff in a tub of silica, sparking numerous *yawn emoticons between myself and my hombre eremenko, especially at the beginning when the lead system architect for the PS4 demonstrated a title he had been working on called Knack, I believe eremenko’s words as written verbatim were “This is a joke right?”. Needless to say it looked shit. It turns out that the plan for the conference was to save all the good shit until the end, but more on that later.

The Hardware itself was billed as some super exciting world conquering set up, which I guess as far as consoles go is true, but PC gamers may have a bit to say about that. 8GB of RAM is huge in a console, and its based on x86 architecture which should make it easier for devs to conjure up good games for the PS4 off the bat, a lesson learned from the PS3 which was notorious for being difficult to build games for. The equivalent of a Radeon 7870 is apparently what will be found on board to make the shiny’s shiny, this is a really good card in PC land, although with new architecture for GPU’s coming this year then as usual the console graphics get outdated before it even hits the shelves. If you want a more detailed look at the specs then extremetech.com have a great rundown here.

As for the design, well the controller is basically a dualshock that has been tested extensively in a wind tunnel and the console, well the console is nowhere to be found. Only Sony could announce a new console and not show us what it looks like. Again makes me think they really wanted to beat Microsoft to the punch this time round. Oh speaking of Microsoft the PlayStation Kinect err I mean Eye was also unveiled….meh.

ps4 controller

With the mobile/internet era in full swing Sony could hardly ignore this in their plans, the incorporation of video sharing and even web-casting right on the console, along with spectator mode, which lets you watch your friends play games are certainly good concepts, as long as the video share is not on PSN only and allows uploads to YouTube, as this could really get more gamers/aspiring video ‘lets-players’ to invest. The whole idea of helping friends complete a level by taking control of their game if they are sucking, or rather my friends taking my game when I’m sucking seems a little much, I’m hoping that it asks you permission to do so, but even then where is the fun in not beating it yourself. Still points for effort for at least encouraging a more social experience I guess.

 ALERT: – This next couple of sentences signifies an up yours to all you loyal Sony fans, enjoy. 

Wait, Whats that Sony? No native support of PS3 games right out of the box? Wow, Fail. They say its coming ‘eventually’… A bit like the PS store’s release in Europe… which only happened this year…

Anyway with that out way the lets get onto the games/tech demo’s (of the latter there was a lot, again making me think this event might not have been the longest in its planning). What was shown looked amazing, literally every game bar Knack was so bloody pretty, Killzone Shadow Fall which will launch with the PS4 looked unreal, I love my shooters on the futuristic and frantic side and this game had a sack full of both.

Drivers Club was well drivey blah blah I don’t give a shit, sorry racers are not my thing.

For those who love all things indie, the guy who made Braid, is exclusively releasing his new game The Witness on PS4. It look like a maze game using the same graphics engine as Knack *cough*

Suckerpunch’s PS4 entry, InFamous Second Son looked amazing too, if you want to know what its about, think big brother state and vigilantes with super powers and if you wanna smash shit up, snap necks and it stick to the man (Oo err) this could be the one you want to shell out for.

Personally the bit I found the most exciting, more so than Bungie’s appearance showing even more of nothing with their open world shooter Destiny, was Quantic Dream’s tech demo of an old dude’s face, I think that literally had me sold on what this console can achieve so early on, brilliant stuff. Makes me want a PS4 or an old man, whichever is cheaper. If you like amazing computer graphics or old mans faces check the video out now.

There is plenty more I haven’t mentioned but if you want all the details then I am sure IGN or Eurogamer will oblige, I’ll end the article how I began by saying that Sony see this ‘a moment of truth’, will it indeed ring true with gamers or fall on deaf ears. Either way, the ball’s in your court Microsoft.

-The Quim Ninja

Thanks for reading, what are your feelings toward Sony’s PlayStation 4 announcement? Totally hyped or a bit underwhelmed? Let us know in the comments and please like and/or subscribe for more fucking awesome words in rows.