7 Predictions for the Next Xbox
Alright bear with me one second here… Just let me put on my flak jacket… get my riot armor on… aaaand set up the barricades. Okay, ready to go! Phew, last time I made predictions, I not only whacked the metaphorical hornets’ nest, I treated it like an outpatient piñata. Or at least, you’d THINK I had, with the reactions I got. But a promise is a promise; I told people Microsoft was next, so I prepared my own personal fallout shelter for the inevitable deluge of delusional vitriol. Better keep at least 20 yards back; I wouldn’t want you to set off the turrets. Or the guard dogs. Or the claymores. And really, try to not set off the guard dogs AND the claymores, I really like those dogs.
Here we go again, after the Break.
First, let’s talk about the rumors that are already out there.
1. Blu-Ray. Yup, Here Too
Last week, 4 major rumors started circulating around the Internet regarding the next Xbox, the first of which was the fact that Blu-Ray will be the disc of choice. Frankly, this would have been my prediction even before the rumor/leak, as Microsoft has shown that they want to be the console of choice for your overall TV experience. They’re moving into TV land with their Channel On-Demand additions, and they’re even willing to pay the Sony piper in order to get a bigger foothold on the movie bandwagon as well. In their minds, owning a next-gen Xbox with Blu-Ray support is just one more reason to not buy a PS4.
2. Kinect 2 Will Happen
This was another rumor shuttling around last week. The way it goes, an improved version of the Kinect will launch with the new console, which will include a processor onboard the device. This was a feature that was originally planned for the current Kinect, but was scrapped to save costs, so this makes total sense. Look for it, however, to ship WITH the new console, as part of the console, defining its experience in the way the waggle defined the Wii. Look for Microsoft to REQUIRE the Kinect to be used in SOME fashion on ALL games, even if that’s just as simple as taking a picture or using voice commands. Microsoft is head-over-heels for the Kinect, even to the detriment of an otherwise clear vision, and they will be pushing it HARD.
3. Used Games Will Be Restricted, But Not Banned
If there’s one way to set the Internet ablaze with hysterics, it’s mentioning the possibility of stripping used-game playability away from gamers. The thing is, Microsoft will only do this if Sony is on the same bandwagon. GameStop is a major player in the industry, but so are Best Buy, Amazon, and every other retailer who has jumped on used games as a revenue source. There are just too many cross-purposes factors involved for Microsoft to fully adopt this, right out of the starting gate. Sure, there will probably be an OPTIONAL system that developers can elect to use. I’m predicting this system will create a marker on your gamer profile, but only one time. A memory card or cloud-access will allow you to access your profile from another gamer’s machine, but if you don’t have access to that original profile (such as when buying the game used from GameStop), expect there to be a fee for adding the marker to your profile. If Microsoft DOES adopt this on a fascist kind of level, expect the standard game price to be dropped to $50; Microsoft may be bull-headed, but they know money.
4. 8x the Power of the 360
The last rumor we’ll cover that was going around last week was that Microsoft believes that their new system has 8 times the power of the 360. We predict this is true, that Microsoft does in fact believe this. This doesn’t make it true, however. Sure it’ll be powerful, and sure, the math may work out to roughly 8 times the computational power. We all know, however, that actual performance is dependent on the developers and their tools. As with every generation, games will start off looking just one step above the previous console, and will get better over time.
5. And Thou Shalt Be Named 720
Now on to OUR predictions! The name “Xbox 720″ is a good one, purely because it’s intuitive. Hordes of people surmised that the next system will be called that, because it makes sense. When you see the name “Xbox 720″, you instantly understand that it is 360 twice over, unless you have the IQ of a pot-smoking turkey (I’m looking at you, people who bought “Jumper”. Microsoft’s marketing departments know this, and will make it happen.
6. Christmas 2013 or Later… But Sooner Than the PS4
Microsoft knows that beating Sony to this generation gave them a huge head-start, and they’ll look to duplicate that success in the next generation. No matter when they release, they’ll try to beat Sony to release again, and if Sony really pushes to get out there sooner, this may force Microsoft’s hand into rushing their hardware, something they won’t want to repeat again. (Red rings anyone?) Still, look for a Christmas 2013 release, assuming Sony doesn’t get their system out by that point. There’s just not enough time to do anything sooner unless they are artificially pushed into it by the competition.
7. And That’s It
And the last prediction is that… well, there is nothing more to predict. This may seem like a non-prediction, but in fact, this is one of my larger points. The fact is, Microsoft LOVES the Kinect. They honestly believe, in their heart of hearts, that they have hit the next generation early, and, I predict, will simply rest on their laurels. There will be no more innovation, no huge feature additions. They’ll keep pushing Kinect, and sure, there will probably be little tweaks to the system, like improving some of their online features and integrating Facebook more deeply, but nothing to write home about. No megatons, no crust of the earth shattering. Just Kinect, better graphics, another Halo, a solid online system, and a lot more blind arrogance than they’ve had in the past. They’ll learn from Sony’s last-gen example and won’t wear that arrogance on their shoulders, but it’ll still be there, preventing them from truly moving forward. In the words of a great band whose own arrogance dragged themselves down into mediocrity, it’s “Sad but true”.