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What To Expect At The Next Gen Xbox Reveal In May

What we think we know and what we think they might want to show.

Well Microsoft have finally announced that there is, in fact, a next Xbox. Anyone with even a vague interest in gaming knew that it had to be coming, but the nature of these things means that Microsoft can’t confirm anything until they’re ready to announce – not if they don’t want Xbox 360 sales to drop off a cliff, anyway.

The question, of course, is what can we expect on May 21st when the curtain is pulled away and the the last of the big three new consoles is announced. Obviously we don’t have any concrete data yet, but there are several persistent rumours around the console, as well as some things that can be easily inferred from other events.

The biggest, most persistent, and potentially most damaging rumour is the ‘Always Online’ proposition. We’ve seen this time and time again, perhaps most prominently during Adam Orth’s series of ill advised tweets. The problem is that it seems many gamers don’t want to “deal with it”, seeming, at best, hesitant to back a constantly connected console, particularly one that may well have a camera attached to it.

Beyond the basic privacy issues that a constantly connected console may well bring with it, debacles like the recent SimCity launch and last year’s Diablo III issues are fresh in consumer’s minds. The server based problems that these games had when they first arrived on store shelves were bad enough, no one wants to see similar problems denying you access to every game on Microsoft’s next platform, least of all Microsoft themselves.

However, if the console is actually ‘Always Online’ it may be indicative of another shift from Microsoft. It’s been known for a long time that Microsoft have treated the Xbox as their foothold in your front room, an area that’s typically been a weak point for the company. With the Xbox 360 they’ve been pushing media streaming services for several years now, partnering up with just about anyone who streams music or video over the internet.

Current rumours suggest that they’re pushing this approach even further, with rumblings that they’ll be partnering with cable companies in the US to have the next Xbox act as a cable box, or at least as part of the process of watching cable TV. The permanent internet connection would then provide access to things like TV listings and what channels your package has access to.

How this will play out outside the US is hard to say, although Microsoft already have a strong partnership with a number of TV providers globally, including Sky. Regardless, the US is an important enough market for Microsoft to provide additional features there, even if they don’t make the jump to other parts of the world.

If the next Xbox does become an add on of sorts for cable boxes then we can expect a fairly heavy look into media partnerships during the reveal, although even if that doesn’t come to pass we can still expect to see Microsoft spend some time on their media partners. However, even with Microsoft looking to make Xbox an all encompassing media brand, something backed by the rebranding of Zune to Xbox Music and Video, it does seem like we can expect them to spend a lot of time on the gaming aspects of the console.

Chief among these is probably the console itself, the physical hardware. While it’s certainly not clear exactly what hardware the machine will use, there are rumours linking it to an AMD x86 CPU, moving away from the PowerPC architecture that sits at the core of the Xbox 360. While that does suggest a convergence between the PS4 and Xbox platforms in terms of underlying architecture, it almost certainly won’t see the disappearance of platform fragmentation. The way that each platform handles various graphics and memory functions is still going to be different, and still potentially lead to similar headaches for developers; it’s not as if they’ll be sharing the same operating system.

Whatever is actually in the box, the question is whether or not they’ll take the time to reveal the physical set up itself? After the backlash that Sony received for not showing the PlayStation 4 at its reveal event Microsoft will certainly be considering the question very carefully, but I’ve got to imagine that they won’t do it. While it would be very tempting, especially after Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb was sarcastically critical of Sony’s conference not showing the box, there’s a good chance that the machine’s physical look isn’t final. Components and airflow may still be getting minor tweaks, making it hard for them to pull the veil off that particular secret just yet.

However, it’s worth considering another quote from Larry ‘Major Nelson’ Hryb, who has confirmed at E3 they’ll be showcasing their “full lineup of blockbuster games”, while the May 21st event will focus on “our vision for Xbox”. While this certainly doesn’t mean that the physical console will make an appearance on May 21st, it does make the possibility seem more realistic.

It would, of course, be silly to suggest that there won’t be any games at all at the Xbox reveal event, but it does seem like they’re not going to be the whole focus. I expect a few announcements with short gameplay videos, while the majority of the event focuses on the hardware, services and partnerships.

The one element I’ve missed though is Kinect, and expect whatever the next iteration of Microsoft’s camera to get a very thorough workout on stage. While the original Kinect may have been the “fastest selling consumer electronics device” in history, there aren’t many who are willing to back it as a roaring success in terms of functionality. Whatever the next version of Kinect is, it can only improve on what’s already there really. Hopefully they’ll offload the processing into hardware on the camera, much like the intention of the original Kinect.

The bigger change comes with the rumours that the camera’s going to be more closely integrated with the console itself. Perhaps it will actually be built in, although a bundled peripheral makes a lot more sense in reality.

Also worthy of note are the rumours that you’ll need to have the Kinect connected (say that five times fast) for the system to run. These are along the same lines of the ‘Always Online’ rumours, and do seem… worrying. I really don’t like the idea of a camera knocking about my front room the whole time, particularly one that’s always connected to the internet; I can see it spending a lot of time with a tea towel over it.

As we approach May 21st we can probably expect more details to leak out, both intentionally and unintentionally. However, for my money the main things to expect from the announcement are a look at the hardware, a heavy focus on media partnerships, some time spent on games (with much more to come at E3 just three weeks later) and a good chunk of time spent looking at the next generation of Kinect. The media partnerships and Kinect seem like they may well be key for the next Xbox, so I’d really prepare for a lot of time spent on those.

  1. Alex C
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Hardly any games.
    Lots of third party logos.
    Battlefield 4.
    Kinect 2.
    TV services / throughput.
    Media stuff.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 15:48.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      Also, 99% sure it’ll have a subscription option so the asking price can be lower than PS4.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 15:51.
      • Peter Chapman
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        brb, dealing with it.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 15:52.
      • manky_
        Since: Forever

        Thats where I think always online comes in. You don’t pay, you don’t play.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 17:18.
    • Kris Lipscombe
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Mar 2009

      CoD Ghosts, assuming that’s a thing.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 16:47.
    • Sheepdip
      Since: Feb 2013

      A repeat of the 360 launch, for which gamers have rewarded them.

      Rushed launch with non-working hardware.
      Dire selection of launch games.
      No free online gaming and double-dip subscription
      Last-generation DVD storage and non-standard HDD

      Anyone that bought an Xbox360 and rewarded MIcrosoft with a sale (and likely a second and perhaps a third replacement sale) should hang their head in shame. They totally deserved to be screwed over by Microsoft.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 20:40.
      • Adam Garrett
        Community Manager
        Since: Feb 2009

        Just one search of your comments shows that 95% of what you say it pure fanboy preaching nonsense with often completely made up facts. Cut it out or or we will.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 21:12.
  2. Peter Chapman
    Team TSA: Editor
    Since: Forever

    I think MS’ big studios have had loads of time to work on things for this reveal, right? I mean there’s been a bit of a dearth of “hardcore” 360 games for over two years now, obvious touchstones excluded. Rumours floating around of a Project Gotham reboot or sequel, that’d be nice. And the persisting rumours of EA popping up with loads of their stuff, too.

    This is the opportunity for new IP though, I’d really like to be wowed.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 15:53.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      From first parties? Nah, Sony played it safe (another Killzone, another Infamous etc) and MS will do the same.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 16:00.
    • teflon
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      I dunno, we might see something from Rare, which could hopefully bring that company back to the fore, whilst Lionhead must be working on something too. There will surely be Forza 5 shown, though, as that switches to a CoD-style tick-tock development cycle.

      There’s also Black Tusk Studios, but maybe it’s too early to see anything from them, whilst the same could be said of a Halo 5…

      The rest relies on third parties, from what I can see. So maybe a few MS published games from the likes of Epic and Crytek (Ryse?) in amidst EA and Ubisoft, perhaps?

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 16:29.
      • Peter Chapman
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        Lionhead might be working on a Fable MMO. Turn10 didn’t do Forza Horizon so they will surely have Forza 5 well along. Giving Rare something meaty would be great.
        Lots of rumours about EA being on board and even some hints that Rockstar might be ready to talk about new platforms for GTA V on or around that date – that’s a possible exclusivity concern for PS die hards.
        All seems a little more difficult to second guess than the bulk of Sony’s stuff though, perhaps because Microsoft has mostly stopped talking about games recently.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 16:47.
      • teflon
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        Then again, it could all just be Kinect 2.0… :-\

        Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 16:58.
  3. NazzyQ
    Since: Nov 2011

    The big rumour is that Microsoft has struck a deal with EA- they were conspicuously absent at Sony’s event and have so far been evasive about Battlefield 4 appearing on PS4. My guess is that Microsoft wants them to show a next-gen version of BF4 running on the new Xbox first- possibly accompanied by the announcement of some exclusive DLC.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 16:54.
    • Bilbo_bobbins
      Since: Jun 2009

      yes that was mentioned a while ago on TSA good friend :)

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 17:04.
      • fattyuk
        Since: Apr 2010

        But the Xbox masses are COD fans? so don’t see how the marketing to there customer base would be good bragging about battlefield?

        Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 20:39.
  4. Bilbo_bobbins
    Since: Jun 2009

    I’m sure whatever the box does, it will be great for some in one way or another. If its more media hungry I’ll leave it, if it has some amazing games, then I might go for it.

    I want a games console, not a media console to watch TV on.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 17:05.
    • Kris Lipscombe
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Mar 2009

      What if it’s both?

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 17:08.
      • KeRaSh
        Since: Nov 2009

        Then people who only want to game with it have to “deal with (it)” a higher entry price for hardware components that are not needed and the always on thing, which will probably be “justified” with the cable TV / media side of the console.
        Obviously the PS4 will have components that support features that some people might not want but Microsoft’s focus on media over games is very obvious and it’s not a road I would want them or Sony to go down.

        Comment posted on 26/04/2013 at 08:00.
    • bunimomike
      Since: Jul 2009

      If it’s heavily media-focussed that’s where I think the “always on” situation comes in. They’ll give the illusion of looking after their existing fan-base but I reckon they’ll come up short like they have done for the last three years. However, and along with many others, I think they’re after that middle ground where they want a huge slice out Nintendo’s tasty, casual pie as well as stronger reasons for it to be the central hub of entertainment in people’s living rooms with all manner of televisual connectivity and delivery.

      The “always on” for games would be suicide as far as I can tell.

      After all that, I think I’ll pass if the speculation turns out to be true. Although I’m not ruling out something spectacularly game-centric as that would have me salivating, I’m sure.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 18:37.
      • TSBonyman
        Since: Dec 2009

        It’s going to be interesting to see what they’ll market it as, besides the name, i.e. a games console, entertainment center, media center etc. (yes,american spelling). Can they market it as a cable box-games-console-kid’s edu-tainment centre and still have it appeal to someone looking to just buy a games console?

        It sounds like it’s going to be tv-focused and with recent a survey showing that watching tv is what people spend the most of their leisure time doing, they could be barking up the right tree as it happens.. going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
        What i do know is that microsoft probably aren’t going to do anything dumb and no doubt have a very cunning plan indeed… the barstewards ;)
        And now i’m going to take my leave of the internet activity building up in advance of the imminent nextbox reveal.. :P

        Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 22:35.
  5. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    A lot of things I wont care about.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 17:35.
  6. wonkey-willy
    Since: Jan 2010

    mmmmm heres what i’m expecting….
    a beautiful box of computery magi,.terflops ,giga flips and microchippings..
    that gentleman is the extent of my technical know how..
    who cares lets face it it will be awesome……

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 17:37.
    • fattyuk
      Since: Apr 2010

      awesome as in epic fail awesome?


      awesome as in having a sore bum for the duration of owning the new comsole?

      Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 20:47.
  7. fattyuk
    Since: Apr 2010

    Guranteed theyll show the actual console as Sony haven’t.

    “well it has 6 USB slots, 4 standard and 2 you can rent for $3.99 a month ”

    “you can use kinect to order a pizza!”

    “tv music services”

    “family fun games like wii sports and sports champions”

    “every user will be a gold a member straight out the box! to use online become a gold plus member for £50 a year, or have the option to fully use the console and become a prestige member for £89.99”

    hope I’m wrong but I want to watch an epic fail or an epic moment in gaming history?………. then watch the Internet unfold and go mental.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 20:44.
  8. fattyuk
    Since: Apr 2010

    anyone thought it might not be a new console??

    might be an Xbox branded handheld device?? that can use smartglass to control your 360?

    wii u/ps vita style.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 20:48.
  9. The Von Braun
    Since: Oct 2012

    My thinking is they will annouce at the very least, a ‘timed-exclusive’ deal with one of the big name FPS series, wether it’s COD or Battlefield won’t really matter per say, it’ll be MS basically saying that with this and new instalments of Halo+Gears, combined with the ‘superior’ online offered by XBL, the next-gen Xbox will be the platform for the ‘hardcore’ gamer as well as the more causual end of the market.

    MS for all their flaws, are not foolish enough to over-look the very gamers the made the 360 such a huge seller.Sure Kinect has done wonders for it, MS’s own consumer data shows more people use the 360 for things other than games, but they’ll be keen to be seen as saying we’ve not forgotten about our ‘core’ Xbox fans, next gen Xbox is a console for everyone….

    8 Gig of Ram i’d wager would be a given, wether it’s slower type than PS4’s though….

    Kinect 2 will get a lot of airtime, as will the online side and continued partnerships, nothing will be made of fact XBL Gold is still a paid for service though, despite now being advert central….

    Throw in the usual talk of claimed power (meaningless when it comes to running actual games), how the device is future-proofed, make no mention of wether it’ll be region free or not (still waiting for your answer there Sony on PS4), totally forget that they claimed Blu ray was NOT the future, ohhh no, download all the way for MS, yes sir…etc, the HD DVD drive (of which i own 2), E74 and Red rings etc and then just sit back and watch the internet collapse under the wieght of PS4 VS Xbox Next articles/threads etc with PC crowd chipping in saying both are already outdated…whilst the Wii U starts to scream…i’m not dead yet Motherf**ker or words to that effect.

    Sh*t, i’m old enough to recal when a new platform being shown off for the very 1st time was a massive event, these day’s it’s like a management meeting at work :-)

    Comment posted on 25/04/2013 at 22:46.
  10. bowie
    Since: Jan 2012

    One rumour few people are commenting on is that the next Xbox will be a Windows 8 device. Presumably this will allow Microsoft to bring the Windows App Store to the Xbox giving them a response to PSM and a replacement for XBLIG.

    Comment posted on 28/04/2013 at 23:32.

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