It’s finally happening. The next-generation Xbox and successor to the widely successful Xbox 360 will be officially revealed on May 21st. It is at that event where Microsoft is expected to detail just what the Xbox 720 is and what we can expect from it. Since its announcement, more rumors on its functionalities and capabilities have surfaced. Below, I have comprised a full list of those rumors for your convenience, but bear in mind that they are rumors afterall, but are likely to be true given their sources. Read them, soak them in, and then in just a few weeks’ time we’ll finally know the truth!
The following rumors originate from Paul Thurrott, the same man who leaked info on the Xbox Reveal before the official announcement…
Early Announce. The initial reveal date was pushed back from April 24 to May 21 so that Microsoft could better position the device against the PlayStation 4, which Sony announced in late February.
Full (end user) Announce. Microsoft will fully reveal details about the next Xbox, including the launch lineup of games, on the eve of the E3 tradeshow in early June 2013.
Developer Announce? It appears that Microsoft will discuss the next Xbox developer platform at the Build conference in San Francisco in late June, based on clues on the Build web site.
Launch. The next Xbox will launch in early November 2013.
Windows 8 Core. The next Xbox is based on the “Core” (base) version of Windows 8. This suggests a common apps platform or at least one that is similar to that used by Windows 8, and further than Microsoft could open up this platform to enthusiast developers.
Price. Microsoft will initially offer two pricing models for the console, offering a standalone version for $499 and then a $299 version that requires a two-year Xbox LIVE Gold commitment at an expected price of $10 per month.
No Entertainment Box. Microsoft originally planned to offer both a “full” version of the next Xbox (with video game playing capabilities) and a lower-end entertainment-oriented version, codenamed “Yuma,” that did not provide video gaming capabilities. But plans for Yuma are on hold and no pure entertainment version of the next Xbox will appear in 2013 (or possibly ever).
Blu-ray. The next Xbox will include a Blu-ray optical drive.
Internet-Connected. The next Xbox must be internet-connected to use. This is source of the “always on”/“always online” rumors and isn’t as Draconian as many seem to believe.
Another Xbox 360. Microsoft will also deliver a third generation Xbox 360 console this year that will be significantly less expensive than the current models. The new 360 is codenamed “Stingray,” but it’s not clear if this device is required because the next Xbox isn’t backwards compatible, or because Microsoft simply wants a low-cost entertainment box alternative. (A third possibility, and to be clear these possible reasons are all speculative: The 360 simply has life left in it and with dwindling component prices in the 8 years since the original launch, the firm can still make money selling such a device.)
The following rumors originate from Polygon…
Video Capturing And Sharing. The next Xbox will capture your gameplay as if it were a DVR, allowing you to go back and select highlights. That function can be turned on or off, or a player can set up the console to automatically capture a recording when certain in-game events occur, like a headshot or collecting a specific achievement. Those videos can then be uploaded directly from the console to social sites, like YouTube, for sharing.
Always-On Internet Connection. The next Xbox will indeed have some form of an always-on requirement. That will be both to support the suite of non-gaming entertainment applications that will be launched alongside the console, like streaming video services, but also as a possible anti-piracy tool. Currently, the console will support digital rights management and anti-piracy checks using an internet connection. Under Microsoft’s current guidelines, which may still be changed, the decision of whether a game will require an internet connection to work and if that is a one-time authentication or a constant connection, will be left up to individual publishers.
New Achievements System. With the next Xbox, developers and publishers will be able to add more achievements to a game after launch, without the need to add DLC. This is designed specifically to allow developers to tweak player behavior, perhaps urging players to check out specific areas of a game or get past a difficult spot. Next-gen achievements can also be tied to broader events, like a weekend challenge or a communal goal, like contributing a set number of kills to the bigger goal of 10,000 kills over one weekend. Companies can also create cross-title achievements, like awarding points for finishing the first chapter in two different and unrelated games published by the same company. Some of these bigger, cross-title, communal achievements will be a requirement for all titles.
Microsoft is playing around with cross-platform achievements as well. Ideally, these achievements could be earned by playing a game on the next-gen system and then using a companion app, a website or maybe even by playing a specific game, like a prequel to a next-gen title, on the Xbox 360.
Unlimited Friends. The next-generation Live won’t have a cap on the number of friends a person can have. The way players add friends will also change. Now instead of it being a two-way friendship only, people can choose to follow one another, sort of like Twitter.
What do you all think? Assuming all of the above rumors are true, is it enough to get you excited for the next Xbox? Share your thoughts below in the comments!