Xbox Next-Gen Console In 2012
Microsoft gearing up for the big announcement this year?
As of midnight on the 31st December 2011, as the clocks ticked over into the New Year and parties the world over toasted to good health, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 became the first current-gen console to be on sale for eight consecutive years. An impressive if unsurprising fact, given the head start it was granted by Sony and Nintendo’s late arrivals, but it’s also unusual. The current consoles have been part of the longest running cycles ever experienced in the modern games industry and though Microsoft and Sony have been adamant that ten years should be the target length of life for their machines, consumers and developers are arguably itching for new technology.
It’s partly the reason rumours, however small or fleeting, have been analysed, speculated over and, more than likely, blown out of all proportion over the last few months. Halo 4’s announcement, for example, was quickly followed with speculation leading many to believe it would launch accompanied by a new machine at the end of 2012. Though Microsoft debunked these rumours faster than the Master Chief reloads his assault rifle, it remains a tantalisingly real prospect.
As 2012 enfolds and each passing month brings us closer to gaming’s biggest event, E3, which would make a perfect platform for a next-gen announcement), a reveal seems imminent. The only question is, will Microsoft’s new machine launch this year, or next?
It’s become evident the economic downturn experienced across the world over the last few years has made clinging on to the current console life cycle the smart choice, for publishers, developers and manufacturers. If rumours are to be believed, though, Microsoft will once again be first to step into next-gen territory ahead of the competition. Test units and rough approximations of the technology have been rumoured to be with studios such as Ubisoft Montreal and even a next-gen Kinect has been touted to be so accurate it has the ability to lip read and interpret emotions from facial expressions. That at least holds hope that future Kinect games will actually work without constant misinterpretations of your actions.
Hex-core CPU’s, AMD graphics processors and 2GB of DDR3 RAM are just a few of the nonsensical technical specifications bandied about as potential make-up of the next-box. Better graphics really are the minimum requirements for a new machine, too. Despite this the 360 has changed beyond all recognition to truly offer an entertainment hub, complete with TV, music, movies and social networking. Recognising this as the consoles renewed focus, there has even been rumours of two distinct versions of the console. A hardcore gamer’s choice and a Kinect-focused set-top box to cater for the fledgling family market.
An interesting prospect and all this conjecture provides no end of fun, but the bottom line is serious. A new console is needed to fuel not only an aging industry economically, but also creatively. For everyone’s sake, we hope these rumours turn out to be true.