The Next Xbox: It’s nearly time

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THEFUTURE

Today’s the big day. The big reveal. After months and months of rabid speculation and the feverish churning of the rumour mill, today we finally find out what’s inside Peter Molyneux’s cube! Incidentally, (and of much lesser import) today’s also the day that Microsoft reveals its next-generation Xbox. What are you expecting to see?

Here’s what we know we’ll be seeing:

The next generation Xbox’s name.

It probably won’t be called Durango or the Xbox 720. Likely names at the moment are Xbox Fusion and Xbox Infinity – or taking a cue from Apple, just Xbox.

Guns and Football

Both EA and Activision have said they’ll be showing off their biggest annualised franchises, with the next iterations of both Call of Duty and FIFA set to take centre stage.

That’s…uh…about all we know for sure.

Here’s what we think we’ll be seeing:

A PC

We believe that the next Xbox will, at a base hardware level, be incredibly similar to Sony’s PlayStation 4, utilising AMD-powered x86 PC architecture. It’ll probably finally pack in a blu-ray drive, making that disc-swapping nonsense a thing of the past.

Kinect 2.0

We’re pretty sure Microsoft will be showing off an evolution of their motion-tracking peripheral Kinect. this time around, we expect it to be much more accurate – and be included with every unit so it actually gets used by developers who make things other than dance and fitness games.

A whole lot of entertainment

Microsoft has been pushing its Xbox as a multimedia platform for quite some time now, and we don’t think that’ll change with the next one. We expect to see a lot of mention of partnerships with media providers like Netflix and Hulu. Oh, and Pizza Hut.

A socially-connected experience

We think there’s some merit to the “always on” Xbox rumours – but they won’t quite be as terrible as you imagine. Instead, we think the next Xbox is going to be a living-room gateway, keeping you connected to your friends- through some sort of Windows 8-focused smartlgass-like app.  Without having to leave your couch.

A bizarre celebrity endorsement

It happens every time. Microsoft brings some random celebrity onstage for no good reason. When they debuted the Xbox 360, it was Elijah Wood, and with Kinect, it was Usher. I’m expecting Lady Gaga dressed in pizza this year.

Some actual new IP

Call it a hunch, but we actually think we’ll be seeing some new, exclusive IP from a beloved studio. Microsoft doesn’t seem to have much interest in making its own new exclusives…but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy them.

Here’s what we’re hoping to see.

No perpetual connection requirement or silly DRM

 If there’s one thing I don’t want to have to deal with with the next Xbox, it’s having to be online all the time just to use the thing. I also don;t want to have to install my games and authenticate them online just to play them. It’s a console, not a PC – even if it has the same architecture.

GAMES!

The most important thing for a console – any console – is games. You can have all the entertainment services in the world, but without games, you’re nothing. We’re hoping Microsoft realises that and focuses a little more on games.

Xbox Live redefined

Once upon a time, the Xbox Live Gold subscription cost was justified, because it offered a vastly superior online service to the PlayStation 3. That’s changed, and cross-game chat aside, the PS3 offers very much the same services that the Xbox 360 does – for free. Take in to account the PlayStation Plus subscription service, which gives users access to thousands of Rands worth of games for less than Xbox Live’s annual membership. Xbox Live needs to change for better and offer more value.

Backwards compatibility

This one’s pretty unlikely, especially if there has been a shift towards x86 architecture – unless, of course, that rumoured 360 system-on-a-chip actually exists.

That’s our list. What are you expecting, and hoping to see from Microsoft at tonight’s Xbox reveal? For reference, that happens tonight at 7PM SAST. You can watch the reveal event live on your Xbox dashboard, or on Xbox.com.

Last Updated: May 21, 2013

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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