When the Xbox 360 was launched back in 2005, Tony Blair was just celebrating his third election win and a chubby faced singer called Steve Brookstein was topping the charts – remember him?
The world may have changed since then but the 360 is still chugging along. Since its release in 2005 it has sold more than 80 million units around the world. But with the Wii U on the shelves and the PlayStation 4 revealed, it’s now the turn of Microsoft to lay their next-gen cards on the table.
With the console expected to be released in time for Christmas, they’re likely to be making an official announcement at E3 in June. But until then we have only a blizzard of rumours and speculation to navigate in search of what we can actually expect.
But there have been some pretty hefty clues along the way, including a leaked doc giving a fairly detailed breakdown of the Microsoft console, nicknamed internally as ‘Durango’.
If this leak wasn’t a fantastically elaborate hoax, then we can look forward to a console which packs an eight-core processor and 8GB of RAM. It will also come with a Blu-Ray hard drive, allowing games to be played without a disc once they’re installed.
This means the 720 will also need some kind of online rights management, probably something similar to Steam. And this has led to a chorus of mumbles and grumbles from gamers fearing it could be used to stop second hand games being used – which Microsoft have said won’t happen.
The console will also come with an updated version of the Kinect motion controller. Instead of being a separate gadget, used only for certain games, it’s going to be integrated in the system. It seems also that the Kinect 2.0 will be permanently on whenever the console’s on.
It makes sense if the motion sensors going to be used for flipping between menus and screens. But again, the Internet elders worrying about the privacy issue of having a camera permanently staring at what you’re doing.
It’s not too crazy to think that anonymous data from this would be dead useful for marketing companies wanting to know how users react to various media – how many people in the room, how fidgety they become etc.
But, unless Microsoft have managed to hold back some mega secret technology, the Xbox 720 looks like being similar to the PlayStation 4. It’s going to be a solid but conservative evolution of what we’ve already got, rather than any major kind of game changer.