Information on the successor to the Xbox 360
The original Xbox launched in North America on the evening of November 14th, 2001. Despite initial skepticism about its large size, an exterior that many deemed ugly, and a controller seemingly designed for a Sasquatch, it was a huge success. It's funny to look back now and wonder if Microsoft could pull off a gaming console, but at the time it was very much an open question. Microsoft rode the enormous success of Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequel Halo 2 to a large piece of the video game console pie.
The Xbox 360 launched in North America on the evening of November 21st, 2005. It quickly rose to be the #1 console in the seventh generation of video gaming, based in large part on the ongoing success of Xbox Live, a system whereby multiplayer games can be played over the internet. That Microsoft was able to achieve this despite charging for an Xbox Live subscription whereas the competing Playstation 3 has free internet-based-multiplayer speaks to the cachet of the Xbox 360 brand.
Next gen Xbox:
Where will Microsoft go in the home console gaming space when the Xbox 360 has reached its end of life? Nothing is certain, but rumors abound.
The next gen Xbox has been dubbed the Xbox 720 by many, playing on the name of the Xbox 360 (360 being the number of degrees in a circle, and 720 representing the number of degrees traversed when moving around a circle two times). Others report the name Xbox Loop, although this could just be a codename.
There is no firm release date at this time. Microsoft has indicated that they want at least ten-year lifespan for the Xbox 360, which would put a release in 2015. Both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 released in late November (in time for the holiday shopping season). So late November 2015 is a possible release window. It's hard to imagine Microsoft delaying any longer than this given the pent-up demand for a new console, as well as the fact that the Wii U will be launching in 2012, meaning a 2015 release would give Nintendo a three year head start.
Video game retail outlet Gamestop does not expect the next gen Xbox until 2014.
Bethesda's Todd Howard (director of the blockbuster game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) does not expect the next gen Xbox before 2014.
The original Xbox launched in the United States at a price of $300. The Xbox 360 launched in the United States at a price of $400 ($300 for the core system, which did not include a hard drive). The Playstation 3 experienced a lag in sales initially, which many felt was due to its $600 price tag. Based on the above, an initial price in the $400-$500 range seems right, perhaps with a discounted price for a bare-bones system.
No used games?:
Reports are circulating that the next gen Xbox will not be able to play used games. If true, this is likely at the behest of game publishers, who don't like the current system whereby they are cut out of the secondhand game market completely. Such a move has the possibility of backfiring on Microsoft in a large way however, especially if the competing consoles do not have this "feature".
The plan for the next gen Xbox is also rumored to include Blu-Ray. This would bring it to parity with the Playstation 3. Microsoft lost its bet on HD-DVD, and the inclusion of Blu-Ray would not doubt bring satisfaction to the executives at Sony. Making the games on Blu-Ray would also be beneficial to gamers, as the need for multi-disc games would end or be greatly diminished. Including an expensive component like a Blu-Ray player does seem counter to the growing trend of downloading games digitally, but the industry will probably not be all the way to complete downloading of all games (including blockbuster titles with large space requirements). Including a Blu-Ray player would keep the potential audience numbers higher.
Microsoft Kinect is and was a smash hit, going into the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest-selling consumer device ever. It's unimaginable that the next gen Xbox won't have Kinect as a large part of its strategy. Kinect is already usable as an interface for Netflix on the Xbox 360, and its not hard to imagine gestures and movement being the dominant form of input control for menu selection on the new device. However, many games require higher levels of precision than Kinect can currently provide, so a traditional controller is also expected, perhaps with touchscreen.
According to patent filings, the next gen Xbox could have at least some DVR capability. Companies often file patents for ideas that do not make it into the final product, but it is an intriguing possibility and certainly would fit in with Microsoft's plan to "dominate the living room".