I’m already over the inundation of “new Xbox” rumours -- we might as well conform to the Internet hearsay with Xbox 720 -- and they’ve really only just begun. The successor to the Xbox 360 is going to be released at the end of 2013, but Microsoft won’t tell us that until E3 in June next year.
If we cast our minds back, rumours of a new Xbox have been floating around for past three years, but nothing substantial came of them. Following the lack of announcements at E3 this year, it’s clear that something is on the horizon. It’s just a matter of when, and perhaps even what. Who knows where Microsoft sees the future of Kinect and SmartGlass.
Two independent rumours this week have touted a near-future release of the Xbox 720, within the next eighteen months. That’s consistent with numerous reports from sneaky “insiders” at the start of the year that suggested Microsoft was targeting a late 2013 release.
We’ll likely know everything about the new console long before E3 2013 in June, but that won’t stop Microsoft biting its tongue until the world’s biggest gaming convention.
It makes perfect sense. The Wii U will have established it own audience after a 12 month headstart, but tech savvy gamers will be ready to upgrade again in the hope of something more...next generation.
Sony appears less likely to make the December 2013 deadline, and Microsoft would love to jump the gun and get off to a strong lead. Again. It certainly helped establish the Xbox 360 as the premium console during the early years of this generation.
By late 2013, most of the big games we already know about will have been released. Grand Theft Auto V could push the Xbox 360 to its absolute limits in early-mid 2013, before the aging console is finally replaced at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, rumours suggest the November big-wig, Infinity Ward’s take on Call of Duty, will be released on at least one next generation console, as well as the current Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to ease the transition, in much the same way that the PlayStation 2 was still supported well into this generation. Microsoft is also on record as stating that it would like to continue to support the Xbox 360 until 2015, regardless of new hardware superseding it.
But that, all of the above, is the problem. Microsoft went into damage control with relatively obvious rumours this week, but normally turn straight to the “we never comment on anything, SO THERE” response.
There’s another ten months of that. Ten painstaking months of rumours without a semblance of confirmation.
We’ll likely know everything about the new console long before E3 2013 in June, but that won’t stop Microsoft biting its tongue until the world’s biggest gaming convention. We’ll have to make do with dissecting rumour and speculation, trying to determine what is and what isn’t true about a certain console that may or may not exist; only it will. We just have to be Mafia-coy when broaching the subject.
I can’t wait for a new Xbox. The video games industry is in a lull and needs something of the caliber of new hardware to reinvigorate gamers with exciting new possibilities. It’s just a shame that we’re not going to get anything more substantial than rumours for ten long months.
By Ben Salter