In just a two short days, our world is going to change completely. You see, this Tuesday, May 21st, Microsoft is going to unveil the next generation of gaming with the announcement of the Next Xbox. I’ve been following the rumor mill for quite some time now, but I haven’t really been covering much of it. Rumors aren’t something I normally like to write about, but this is a special occasion. I’m going to break down all of the most hopeful rumors we’ve been hearing and outline what I want out of the next Xbox and what I think we’ll be getting next.
First off, the console itself: We saw a tweet from Major Nelson a few months ago after Sony announced the PlayStation 4 that read “Unveiling a console without showing the console? That’s an odd strategy.” You’d have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to pick up on that clue. Obviously, we’ll be seeing the next Xbox in all of its glory, not just the name.
”Rumors have also been pointing at the console having an HDMI-IN port to allow you to connect your cable box to it and use it as a set top box for everything: Netflix, Hulu, Comcast, etc. This would be, simply put, amazing. You’d never have to turn it off and you’d never have to switch channels to get back to your real TV.
What do I want to see from the console? Well for one, a Kinect bundled with every system would be nice. Including the “New Kinect” with each and every Xbox would give developers the promise of a large instal base, promoting them to make something more appealing than voice commands. We have enough sport and dancing games, I want a shooter that really works with it. Even something as trivial as Halo: Combat Evolved’s “grenade”, “reload”, and “graphics” commands would be nice.
Speaking of which, Kinect 2.0 is rumored to have improved body and facial tracking. It also looks like you might be able to control absolutely everything with your Kinect. Since launching the “Voice Studio” app on the 360, they’ve been getting samples of people saying everything from “Invite XX_YOLONINJA_XX to Party” to “Power Down” and “Xbox, Pizza, NOW!
Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the point. Either way, a beefier Kinect is a solid yes.
The controller is next. Even if the Kinect does come bundled with every console, getting rid of the controller would be a disastrous thought. Microsoft, please, leave my Xbox controller exactly how it is. It’s one of the most luxurious and tasteful controllers in gaming, and it can’t get any more comfortable. Maybe a little lighter or a little thinner, but the controller should be left primarily the same.
Now, to the biggest and most controversial rumor with the next Xbox: always online. Simply put, it’s not going to happen. For one, an Internal Memo was leaked detailing Microsoft’s plans to (paraphrasing) “give customers the most entertaining piece of hardware, whether online or offline.” I wrote a lengthy piece about this very topic which you can read here, but summed up – Microsoft is not dumb and they know better than to do this.
The price is one of the few rumors I unfortunately will hate to see happen. It appears the console will sell for $499 of the bat and $299 with a mandatory two-year subscription to Xbox Live at $15 a month.
Rumor has it that the games will be unplayable used. I can’t see this happening. Microsoft has a huge partnership with GameStop and other retailers, and giving them the finger like this would certainly hurt. Especially after GameStop’s CEO has stated that he’s played the next Xbox and it looks promising.
It also looks like we’ll be seeing something similar to Sony’s methods of downloading the game as you play, I can’t see Microsoft passing up something of that caliber.
It also appears that Microsoft will be doing away with Microsoft Points, which, no matter how unfortunate (I liked those things!) seems very likely. Unifying all three of their economies would be in their best interested and would definitely help out the Windows Phone and Windows 8 Marketplaces. Selling cards that can be redeemed and used on all three platforms in dollar amounts will most likely be launching with the next console, if not sooner.
Finally, the biggest rumor of them all: the name. There have been several rumors being popularized lately, so I’ll break them all down.
The “Xbox: Infinity” (aka Xbox Infinity, Xbox Infinite): This is a likely contender because it’s one of the most marketable names in the world. Just imagine the commercials, showing every type of gamer and family member alike doing their favorite activities, then it cuts to the console “Xbox Infinity: Infinite Possibilities.” It’s making me tear up just by how marketable it is. Plus turning the 8 from Windows 8 into the infinity sign is just brilliant. However, one has to wonder how to brand the Xbox Infinity 2.
The “Xbox: Fusion”: This is less likely then Infinite, but still a great name for the Xbox’s software. The Xbox Fusion is just as marketable as a way of showing it as a fusion between your Cable and Gaming worlds. If the Xbox Fusion is real, we’ll certainly be hearing about how it’s “fusing your worlds together” or something like that.
The “Xbox 720”: You’re joking, right?
And then there was “Xbox Horizon”: Which was one of the best troll tweets to hit twitter in a long while.
But then, of course, I could be all wrong. These are of course only rumors. Very likely rumors, but rumors nonetheless. What do you want to see out of the next Xbox? Will you be watching it live? If you can’t, keep your eyes on LevelSave where we’ll have a live blog going with minute to minute updates.