Xbox 720: All The Next-Gen Rumours So Far (Updated)
Kinect 2, IllumiRoom and Wii U-style Smartglass 2 – while PS4 has been grabbing all the attention, Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox 720 is set to pack plenty of surprises. We pick through all the internet rumblings to bring you a go-to list of what we might have to look forward to…
TV Tuner & Subscription Models
Analysts are currently suggesting the next-gen Xbox 720 will pack in a TV Tuner as standard, allowing owners to use it as a cable or Sky box in their living rooms.
This was something several analysts including Michael Pachter predicted at the recent SXSW Conference in Texas.
The idea would be that families could use the box as an all-in-one living room device to watch TV and play games, and it would allow Microsoft to sell the console at a lower price on a monthly subscription.
Analyst Pachter also predicted Xbox 720 will win the next-generation thanks to this subscription/TV approach.
Compulsory Kinect & Controller
A new version of Kinect is no surprise – Microsoft has been pushing its body-tracking camera tech hard since its launch in 2010.
Apparently, Kotaku says the new camera will be shipped with every Xbox 720 and Microsoft is pushing studios to take advantage of it, integrated into all titles.
The camera’s tracking is said to have been sharpened to the point where it can even recognise individual players – meaning signing into your account could be as simple as standing in front of the TV.
Slightly more worryingly, the camera is said to be able to track up to six people at a time and charge users based on who is watching what, according to a patent (though that’s not to say the patent would definitely be used).
The Kinect 2.0 can also track thumbs separately to fingers and can determine whether your hand is open or closed, as well as read your facial expression to determine your current emotions, apparently.
It looks like the newly-improved Kinect will play a vital role at the core of Xbox 720’s games and services.
There will also be a refreshed standard controller, although this apparently will change very little – except that it will allegedly use a ‘new wireless technology’ rendering older Xbox 360 controllers incompatible with the new machine (cheers, then).
Apps & Multi-tasking
Current-gen consoles are old now. The 720 will apparently have a much-streamlined interface.
Much like a smartphone, the new console is likely to be able to run multiple apps simultaneously – multiple apps and even multiple games.
Similar to a Vita, the Xbox 720 is said to be able to ‘suspend’ games and hold them in a suspended state while launching and playing another, before allowing the player to zip back to the original game on the fly.
Every Xbox 720 will launch with a 500GB hard drive, rumours suggest.
However, games could need to be installed to the hard disk to be played, as the machine can’t play straight from the disc (reported to be a Blu-ray drive).
The good news is games will be playable straight away, as the installs are divided into packets, meaning the game can be launched while the data installs in the background – spelling the end of long installation waits.
Wii U-style Smartglass 2.0
Rather than packing in a third type of controller (after Kinect and the New Standard Controller), it seems Microsoft is looking to get players to use their existing smartphones/tablets to get the ‘touchscreen/motion sensing’ (i.e., Nintendo-esque) capabilities tick-box checked.
A new companion app will take the Smartglass idea to the next level, apparently. The app will be able to tap into touch screen and gyroscope capabilities of smartphones and be used to control a game, similar to the Wii U.
Specs for the new machine have surfaced almost constantly across the interweb.
Apparently, these are the latest (and final) specs of the machine. As usual, prepare your sodium granules.
-8 core, 64-bit CPU clocked at 1.6GHz
-800MHz DirectX 11.x GPU
-8GB DDR3 RAM
-50GB 6x speed Blu-ray
-1080p 3D output
-Built-in 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi & Ethernet
Always-Online, Blocks Used Games
A rumour started by Edge Online suggested the Xbox 720 will require an ‘always-online’ connection to play games, thus blocking second-hand games from working.
The rumour has been discussed across the internet, with devs talking to NowGamer calling it ‘awful’ and ‘stupid’ as an idea.
There have since been counter-rumours suggesting it won’t happen after all. We put together a piece on Four Reasons Blocking Second Hand Won’t Happen – take a read of that. Simply put, it’s possible, but unlikely.
A smattering of recent Microsoft trademark leaks have suggested a pile of new IPs could be heading to Xbox 720.
We reported earlier this month that the company has trademarked Marlow Briggs, Fusion: Sentient and Gunpowder.
Along with rumours of a new racer which could be PGR5 and 343’s Halo 5 (though that’s unlikely to make launch) it looks like Xbox 720 will launch alongside a slew of new and returning game series.
Not really a ‘rumour’, Microsoft has already shown off its exciting IllumiRoom concept. The fact it’s been revealed already suggests it won’t form part of the new console off the bat, but perhaps is in its early stages and could make its way to the new machine later in its life – like how Kinect launched in 2010 for the Xbox 360.
The new product could launch a few years into the console’s cycle, refreshing it with new capabilities.
Rumours a while back pointed to Microsoft considering two options for the Xbox 720; a hardcore, premium package and a set-top box running casual titles and streaming video services and apps, paid for with a subscription.
Truth is, Microsoft is almost certainly considering its options for the next console and may still be undecided on its pricepoint and marketing plans.
Every rumour suggests third-parties are gearing up for a 2013 Xbox 720 release. PS4 is also set to drop in 2013, and looks set to release first.
However, if you’re living in the UK, it’s almost certain the Xbox will arrive first – rumours suggest PS4 will launch in Japan and the US in 2013, but Europe will have to wait until March.
Given Microsoft’s Western focus, it’s more likely the 720 will launch in the US and Europe simultaneously, meaning in Europeland, Xbox 720 looks set to drop first.
On Tuesday, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag director Jean Guesdon suggested the console (and PS4) will be out by November because the next-gen version of the game will ship at the same time as the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions – read that story here.
Keep checking this story as we’ll update it as more information is revealed.