Microsoft Xbox One news & rumours
By Matt Chapman, 18 Apr 2013, last updated 22 May 2013
Microsoft unveiled the new Xbox One on 21st May. Before that there was just speculation and rumours ...
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Rumour 1: It won't be called the Xbox 3
Where Sony has already offered up some facts about its PlayStation 4 games console, Microsoft has remained silent about its next-generation system. Even the name that is currently being used to describe it - the Xbox 720 - was coined by internet users rather than Microsoft itself.
Microsoft dodged a marketing bullet with the title of its last console. Xbox 2 versus PlayStation 3? It's not a pretty football score - from Microsoft's point of view - and it doesn't look great in the shop window at Dixons either. So if the Xbox 360 went up against the PS3, might we see the Xbox 720 go up against the PS4? There's no official word yet but that name has stuck so far. Leaked documents from Microsoft seem to suggest the minimal moniker 'Xbox' could be used.
Update (22nd May 2013): Now it's official. The new device is to be called the Xbox One.
Rumour 2: It will launch in 2013
A number of 'industry experts' put that expertise on the line by predicting that Microsoft's press conference at the Game Developers Conference in March 2013 would finally reveal the next Xbox. They were wrong. It now seems that - similar to companies such as Apple, Nintendo, Samsung and Sony - Microsoft will use a dedicated event to whip up hype about its latest and greatest product. If it holds this event in late April/early May, as seems likely if the Xbox 720 is going to launch before the end of the year, then any follow-up details could be addressed by Microsoft at E3 in June. In one interview Microsoft did say the next-gen Xbox was 'imminent', putting out a denial when the news spread across the internet. However, back in August 2012 a Microsoft job advert stated: "Over the next eighteen months, Microsoft will release new versions of all our most significant products including Windows, Office and Xbox."
Update (25th Apr 2013): We were right about the dedicated event. Hype is right now being whipped up by Microsoft's announcement of 21st May as the day the new Xbox will be revealed.
Rumour 3: Some functions will need constant internet access
Press reports have suggested that an always-on connection will be needed to use certain aspects of the Xbox 720. This is likely to be tied into the console's digital rights management. Xbox 720 games would therefore be played offline but second-hand versions of older titles would need a connection so Microsoft can verify they are originals and not copies. Microsoft has neither confirmed nor denied this. Reported leaks from within Microsoft also claim a device called the Xbox Mini will work like Apple TV and will need an always-on connection to use its functions. Some have questioned the need for this, following connection problems on Microsoft's Xbox Live service in April 2013.
Update (22nd May 2013): Microsoft says no, an always-on connection won't be needed and it will run second-hand games.
Rumour 4: The specs will be designed to last
The Xbox 360 first launched back in November 2005 and it's a testament to its high specifications that it is only now being replaced in 2013. Microsoft will look for a similar lifespan from the Xbox 720 and so the specifications should be top of the range. The main processor will likely be a 1.6GHz AMD Jaguar-based CPU, which would delight game developers as a similar chip will be in the PS4 and that would make it easier to develop cross-platform titles. That would probably be backed up with 8GB of system memory and an unspecified amount of separate graphics memory. One area that suggests Microsoft sees the 720 as an entertainment system rather than a straight gaming device is graphics. Sony's graphics output is likely to be higher - if reports are true - with Microsoft using a cheaper and less power-hungry chip.
Update (22nd May 2013): The processor will be an eight-core x86-based CPU made by AMD.
Rumour 5: The controller won't change much but Kinect will be enhanced
Don't expect many changes to the standard Xbox 360 control pad, which is very popular with hardcore gamers. If anything there may be minor tweaks similar to the changes made by Sony to its Dualshock 4 controller, where buttons were renamed and moved and gamepads were slightly shifted. The biggest change is likely to come with the way users interface with the console using the Kinect motion sensor. A patent filed by Microsoft also suggests games could be played with images projected onto walls all around the user, for a more immersive experience. The 'Fortaleza' glasses Microsoft is developing - which are similar to Google's Project Glass - could also be part of the same system.
Update (22nd May 2013): The Kinect camera's sensor will be upgraded to 1080p high definition resolution and it will be better at analysing body movements.
Rumour 6: The Xbox 720 may play Blu-Ray discs
Microsoft bet on the HD-DVD format and Sony bet on Blu-Ray, so Microsoft may feel reluctant to include the winner of that format war in its new console. Yet if it wants the Xbox 720 to be the all-singing, all-dancing piece of kit at the centre of every living room it has to lick its wounds and embrace Blu-Ray A leaked Microsoft document suggests the next-gen Xbox will play Blu-Ray discs. As games are now massive in both their scale and the amount of room they take up on discs, being able to hold 50GB of data on one disc rather than under 9GB with dual-layer DVDs also makes common sense.
Update (22nd May 2013): Yes, a Blu-ray drive will be added.
Rumour 7: It may be subsidised at launch
Do gamers buy their products in the same way as mobile phone customers and cable/satellite TV subscribers? One industry observer certainly thinks so and he claims this will give the Xbox the edge in the next-gen console wars. Analyst Michael Pachter thinks that consumers will be able to buy a discounted Xbox if they sign up to a TV service or broadband contract. "The reason I think Microsoft wins, I think that you're going to get a subsidy," he said. "I think ISPs have a reason, if you add broadband to get the next Xbox, we'll give it to you for 100 bucks. If you subscribe to our cable TV and sign up for a couple of years, we'll give you the next Xbox for 100 bucks. That's a gigantic advantage until Sony picks up the slack and does the same kind of thing."
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