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Xbox 720: Every Rumour So Far

David Lynch

Features


Next-gen Xbox, the Xbox 720 or whatever you want to call it, Microsoft's next Xbox could be many things, but just which of the rumours can we really believe?

Published on Nov 26, 2012

The next generation of consoles are nearly here. Well, technically, with the launch of Nintendo's Wii U they're already here, but with Microsoft and Sony remaining silent on what's in store for the next Xbox and Playstation we've had to rely on the many rumours to fuel the speculation.

With this in mind we've gathered together the most impressive rumours the internet has to offer to find out if we can at least get a glimpse at the future of gaming and the Xbox 720...

It’s the final countdown?

Rumour: With a countdown to 2013’s E3 appearing Major Nelson’s blog, is this in preparation for a next-gen Xbox reveal? (Source: Major Nelson)

Well, what else could it be? We doubt it’s counting down to the reveal of Fable 4 or something like that, it must be a next-gen reveal, right? Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb is remaining tight-lipped as to what the countdowns true purpose is, but then that what make the whole process redundant.

What we can assume is that this is counting down to this year’s E3 and it means something big is coming.

Obviously, Major Nelson's actual countdown is countdowing down. Not long now!

Major Nelson leaves us with the tantalising message:

“And it’s on…”

If he’s not leaving hints that a next-gen console is coming he’s being really mean and you know what they say about the boy who cried wolf? The villagers beat him up because they got so frustrated waiting for their new Xbox… or something like that.

Xbox 720 Will Be Released ‘Holiday 2013’

Rumour: Coinciding with its reveal at this year’s E3 the Xbox 720 will be available to buy in shops – for real – during the latter half of 2013 or, as the US puts it, during the ‘Holidays’. (Source: Bloomberg)

Both Microsoft and Sony are aware that getting to market before the competition is probably the most important part of succeeding in the console market. The Xbox 360’s lead over the PS3 has never really been recovered by Sony so it makes sense to assume that 2013 will be the year that the Xbox 720 finally emerges and heads straight to the shops.

Bloomberg has cited sources ‘familiar with the company’s plans’ that allege that this is in fact Microsoft’s schedule. With Sony also potentially gearing up to launch the PS4 as soon as possible, could we see two next-gen consoles in one year? We don’t think we’d be able to contain our excitement.

Xbox 720 Won’t Be Released Until ‘Spring 2014’

Rumour: Wedbrush analyst Michael Pachter believes Microsoft could delay the launch of the Xbox 720 until Spring 2014. (Source: VG247)

Obviously this contradicts with the previous assertion that the next-gen Xbox will be with us later this year (and Pachter has been known to be wrong before). His reason for a 2014 launch?

Well, Pachter believes Microsoft will want to meet the ‘overwhelming demand from the hardcore’ and will need the extra time to ensure it can manufacture enough new consoles.

“We have heard no word yet from Microsoft or Sony about their plans to launch new consoles, but both manufacturers are widely expected to launch consoles by year-end 2013,” explained Pachter in an industry note in 2012.

“Although we believe that Microsoft could delay a new console launch until spring of 2014 in order to accommodate what is certain to be overwhelming demand among hardcore gamers.”

Next-Gen Xbox Codenamed Kryptos

Rumour: Microsoft and its partners internally refers to the next-gen Xbox project as Kryptos and the AMD chip the new console will run on is codenamed ‘Oban’. (Source: Semiaccurate)

Aren’t codenames fun? Though many have already cited the working title of ‘Durango’ as the codename for the Xbox 720, Semiaccurate believes that it is referred to as Kryptos internally at Microsoft. Not only that but the tech site also claims that the AMD chip the Xbox 720 will use is codenamed the Oban and it has actually run into production trouble.

According to Semiaccurate, the AMD ‘Oban’ chip was supposed to go into full production at the end of 2012 but ran into problems with one source claiming the component quality of the chip was ‘painfully low’. Regardless of the websites name, these rumours are difficult to swallow.

Xbox Entertainment On Any Device

Rumour: Continuing on from the success of SmartGlass Microsoft will ensure that the Xbox brand reaches out and becomes available on every entertainment device available. (Source: VG247)

An interesting proposition and one that’s now much more likely considering how well SmartGlass works. Microsoft’s recently appointed UK marketing director, Harvey Eagle, teased that this is exactly the sort of future the Xbox brand could have.

Speaking after his appointment last year, Eagle said: “I’m privileged to join a team that has already achieved leadership position in a market where the competition is fierce and ever-changing.”

“Every single person on the planet likes to be entertained. When you think of Xbox as an entertainment service that will show up on any device, you realise our journey has only just begun.”
It makes sense and would effectively remove the need for an Xbox only tablet or handheld, too.

For The Next-Gen Multimedia Is 'More Important Than Games’

Rumour: Next-gen games will be important, but the next Xbox will sell to the masses on the strength of its multimedia, movies and TV capabilities. (Source: NowGamer)

You could say that the Xbox 360 is already a multimedia device that’s been placing increasing importance on its features that don’t centre on playing games – movie, music and TV – but this could be even more important for next Xbox. Jesse Divnich, an industry analyst from EEDAR, certainly seems to think so and believes these features could be so important for the next-gen that it will even surpass triple-A games as the driving factor behind console ownership.

Now, that might be true for a certain portion of the public, but for the ‘core’ games players, what the console is capable of in terms of games will still take precedence. Modern consoles are certainly changing how the wider audience sees them and we should expect this evolution to continue in the next-gen, but games will still be at the centre of the experience for a great deal of people.

Xbox TV Will Be The Second SKU

Rumour: A smaller Xbox will launch alongside a larger SKU, called Xbox TV, and give players access to core games, Kinect games and TV and movie channels. (Source: The Verge)

Mirroring Jesse Divnich’s statements regarding the multimedia future of the Xbox, the Verge recently reported on rumours regarding a potential new Xbox spin-off console, Xbox TV. According to the rumours Xbox TV is smaller, much more casual focused on bringing TV, movies and music (as well as ‘casual’ and Kinect games) and could be the second SKU to accompany a newer, fully featured ‘core’ next-gen Xbox.

It’s an interesting idea and one that would give the Xbox brand the reach (not to mention a cheaper financial incentive) to entice a wider audience and it’s also something we’ve seen Microsoft attempt before. The orginal Xbox 360 launched with two very different SKUs in an attempt to appeal to two very different markets. The Xbox TV is no different, merely offering a much more extreme version of what we've seen before.

Xbox 720 Could Use 3D Environments With Next-Gen Kinect

Rumour: Kinect 2.0 will allow players to interact and see a full environment all around them as they play. (Source: NowGamer)

Kinect’s reception this gen has been mixed to say the least, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the concept itself is terrible. It’s easy to see now that the technology behind Microsoft’s motion controller is what often lets its games down, but this is something that should easily be rectified with the increased processing power of a new console.

But, what’s important for the next-gen Xbox is the rumours that Microsoft wants to evolve the entire Kinect experience to include 3D environments and possibly even wall projections of the actual game world itself. The TV is still central to the experience, but with an entire room dedicated and extedning the images of whatever game you’re playing, it’s at least a step towards a gaming experience that the current gen can’t deliver.

Like Kinect, though, it ignores the players actual play space (assuming everyone has tons of room and white walls), but it’s at least a step into the unknown.

Next Xbox Will Have Six Times The Power Of Xbox 360

Rumour: Next Xbox will be Six times more powerful than the Xbox 360 and yield 20% more performance than the Wii U. (Source: IGN)

As we said there have been many rumours floating around about just how powerful the next Xbox will actually be, but an article on IGN seemed to think the rumours regarding the technology that was going to be used would lead the next-gen Xbox to be around six times the power of the current Xbox.

“[The] core will be based on an AMD GPU, but nominated the 6000 series – specifically, the Radeon HD 6670 – and not Southern Islands 7000 series.”

“In real terms, the Xbox 720′s raw graphics processing power is expected to be six times that of the Xbox 360 and will yield 20-percent greater performance than Nintendo’s forthcoming console, the Wii U.”

That’s quite a reasonable estimate and not totally over-powered, but more importantly, it’s based on technology that already exists. Some may want the next Xbox to be 100 times more powerful than the 360, but what we have here is much more realistic and attainable goal.

Xbox 720 Could Use Windows 8

Rumour: The next Xbox will use Windows 8 as its operating system. (Source: NowGamer)

The Xbox 360 dashboard and the Windows 8 operating system look very similar to each other. They’re both focused on large square windows and even some of the icons that they use are identical to each other, but does this mean that the next Xbox will use Windows 8 as an operating system? Probably not, but it might use something that’s very similar. Microsoft seems to be merging its OS across its platforms and it makes sense to have a central experience like this that will be familiar and easy to use.

Next-Gen Games Will Look Like Avatar

Rumour: The next Xbox will be so powerful it will be able to create in-game visuals that look like James Cameron’s movie, Avatar. (Source: Examiner)

There has been a lot of speculation regarding just how powerful the next Xbox will actually be, but it’s hard to believe it will be capable of producing Avatar-like visuals in real-time. Weta, the CGI studio behind Avatar’s visuals would have used entire rooms full of computers all rendering each frame of the film over the course of a few days (maybe even weeks or months) to make Avatar’s characters and world look as real as possible. The next-gen will be powerful, but that powerful?

That’s not to say that next-gen games won’t look utterly jaw dropping. We’ve already seen Epic, Square Enix and Konami show off new engines and their technology and these all look totally fantastic. And these are really only showing the tip of the iceberg. Games will look more real than ever before, but it will the ways in which you can interact with the worlds and how it reacts back physically to your input that will really show why next-gen games are important. 

Xbox 720 Will Use Augmented Reality & Two HD Sensors

Rumour: Players will be able to use 3D glasses and augmented reality to interact with their games. (Source: NowGamer)

Last June a supposed PowerPoint presentation from Microsoft was leaked that laid out a few interesting plans for the next Xbox. Though it was marked ‘only for discussion’ it showed that there could be a few surprises in store for the next generation.

Microsoft went on to confirm that the document was in fact real, but would not confirm whether this was what the next Xbox was aiming to include.

Here’s a breakdown of the documents most striking claims:

  • The next Xbox will be 4-6 times the power of the current Xbox 360, powered by a processor with 6-8 cores (ARM or x86) running a 2GHz with 64ALU GPU running at 1GHz and 4GB of memory.
  • The console would be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games.
  • The next Xbox will launch with a more accurate version of Kinect, will support a 'breakthrough' augmented reality glasses tech codenamed 'Fortaleza'.
  • It will also support streaming gaming.
  • Better voice recognition and a 3D play space (closer, wider and deeper) with 4-player tracking, possibly using two HD sensors and on board processing to achieve this.

These are certainly some very interesting claims made in the leaked document, but it’s difficult to see how Microsoft could make such a console and keep the costs down. A console that ships with augmented reality glasses and a powerful processor is going to be expensive, there’s no way it can’t be.

Though the claims are impressive, we doubt many of them are actually more than what was originally claimed as ‘talking points’. They’re ambitious, bold and a little too far fetched to really be considered, but they do show where the next-gen could ultimately be heading.

Xbox 720 Will Use Blu-ray

Rumour: The next Xbox will use Blu-ray’s instead of DVDs and definitely not HD DVDs. (Source: NowGamer)

Now this seems like a much more reasonable claim. Though many like to cite Sony as the ‘owner’ of the Blu-ray tech, the truth is that it’s just one of many backers of the technology. Though many believe the next-gen could be a totally disc-less one it might actually be over the course of the next-gen that this transition actually happens.

That means the next Xbox needs a physical storage device capable of holding the large amount of information required of next-gen games and that means Blu-ray. It wouldn’t be so bad; think of all the films you could watch now.

The Next Xbox Could Use A Wearable Controller

Rumour: Clothing, like bracelets and small garments, will have to be worn in order to interact with the next-gen Xbox. (Source: IGN)

This is a rumour very much in keeping with the previous leaked document which detailed augmented reality and glasses technology. When Microsoft patented ‘Wearable Electromyography-Based Controller’ technology powered by muscle movement, tongues were sent wagging. Could this be a potential new controller for the next Xbox?

We doubt that it is really. Microsoft’s evolution of the gaming medium has been primarily focused on Kinect and the types of experiences that can be created through full-body motion control. Asking players to also wear something additional might be a bit much, but it also ignores the fact that the anything attached to the player would largely interpret movement with the same results as Kinect. An interesting idea then, but we doubt we’ll see ‘Xbox Suits’ included in the next-gen.

The Next Xbox will cost $99

Rumour: The next Xbox will only cost around $99 and will have a subscription model not unlike that of mobile phones. (Source: IncGamers)

This is something that could very easily offer Microsoft a way of taking the edge off the expense of upgrading to a next-gen console. In the same way that you pay a monthly fee for your phone after putting down a fraction of the retail cost. Microsoft could offer the Xbox 720 at a budget price and recoup money from charging more for Xbox Live in the same way that phone companies put their best phones on a more expensive tariff.

It would be a really interesting way of getting large numbers of people to invest in the next-gen without the huge start-up costs that are usually swallowed by the core gamers. It would make the next Xbox a viable proposition for everyone from day one.

Next Xbox Will Be Bundled With Kinect

Rumour: There will be a two-model launch of the next Xbox with both coming with a new version of Kinect. (Source: GamesIndustry.biz)

We can see this happening and with rumours like Xbox TV its already been heavily hinted. Whatever your thoughts on Kinect are, it has given Microsoft a whole new market for the 360 and whether you think it was successful or not, that’s not to say that improvements to the technology couldn’t make motion control more palatable for everyone in the future.

Microsoft has to make a console that appeals to both hardcore gamers and the casual markets – as well as everything in-between. Kinect allows it to do this as well as give everyone else a rather fancy way of moving about menus. You don’t have to use Kinect, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it’s more than likely going to be a big part of Xbox's future.

 

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