There have been a lot of rumors flying around lately about the Xbox 720, and of course the dozens that were around last year, though those were mostly rumors about the announcement date and the eventual release date. To help simplify things, and to aggregate them into a single, comprehensive list, here’s a breakdown on the rumors that have been around over the past couple years about the Xbox 720.
The hot topic of the industry since early 2011 and even earlier for some, all kinds of rumors have been flying around. Job postings for the Xbox Console Architecture team were one of the earliest and strongest indicators that the next console is well on its way, but it seems that they could start working on this console at any time; not just a few months to a couple years before its release.
Yet, between this and the constantly churning rumor mill of the industry, people started to believe that the next generation Xbox could launch as early as 2013 at E3; in fact, for a while, some people even suspected it could be unveiled at CES 2012 and launch as early as fall of this year.
Developers for the console claim that they were told by multiple sources, including such ‘reliable’ information hubs as chip manufacturers and middleware firms, that the console would arrive in 2013, but considering that none of this seems to come from Microsoft themselves, it’s a little sketchy.
Without so much as an announcement (much less the massive marketing campaigns that typically come before such a release, or the hints and hype that comes before an announcement), it seems unlikely that we’re going to see the next generation Xbox launch any time soon.
Yet, we’re certainly not far away from an announcement, at the very least. People are eager to see the new console, even if they’re not ready for it to hit the shelves just yet.
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will be on shelves by Fall 2012
Verdict: No chance
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will be on shelves by Fall 2013
Verdict: Uncertain, seems slightly unlikely. Announcement, however, seems very likely.
A Microsoft blogger with the handle MS Nerd claimed back in October 2011 that in 2013 we would see the announcement of an Xbox Loop. With few products other than the Kinect even sharing the Xbox name without actually being another Xbox, it seems as though the Xbox Loop is being suggested here as the name. But, this is one of the few instances of it being named; other than a few details about what the console might or might not be like, this was the only real information given about the name.
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will be called the Xbox Loop, or is codenamed the Xbox Loop.
Verdict: About as likely as any blogger’s rumor, MS Nerd or no. Still, remember that the Kinect was named Natal for months before the actual name was revealed.
The Xbox 720 will be six/eight times more powerful than the previous console
Rumors have abounded between IGN and Microsoft both apparently having said, to one person or another, that the new Xbox will be six- and eight-times as powerful, respectively. These aren’t really rumors, to tell you the truth; more like guesses. Of course the new console will be more powerful; today’s gaming PCs have far and away reached new levels of power since the release of the 360.
By today’s standards, computers that are on the shelves are probably already out of date. PC games are being made for technology that won’t even be available until shortly before they’re launched. Except for those few with the will and the cash to buy a $1500 PC every year or two, the high-end graphics settings on games are typically either out of our reach or run at 5 FPS, unless the game takes place in a small, closed room with a mouse bein the only thing on screen that moves.
So a console that’s well over five years old is definitely behind. But at the same time, people still say they haven’t coaxed out the most they can from the current generation. And the fact is that graphics have gotten to the point where there isn’t as much of a difference; comparing side-by-side screenshots definitely gives a difference between playing a game like Battlefield 3 on the console to playing it on the latest and greatest PC, but aside from that, the differences are only just barely noticeable in most cases.
If anything, it seems likely that we’ll see a much smaller leap in graphics from this generation to the next, nowhere near as significant as jumping from SD to HD. Instead, this power will probably go toward features like improved performance, maybe even coaxing a solid 60 FPS out of most games if we’re extremely lucky, or maybe the ability for developers to design better AIs.
Still, what the power will be used for is just more speculation; one thing is for certain, with all the technology that comes out every year, the next Xbox is going to have a lot more power inside.
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will be 6x or even 8x as powerful as the 360
Verdict: It’s a no-brainer that it will be more powerful. Saying 8x more powerful, even, doesn’t seem that far off when you consider that we’ve got five-plus years of technology (and growing by the day) to implement. Probable.
The Xbox 720 will be entirely digital, and will not have a disc tray
The world is moving to digital, for better or for worse. Netflix has moved to streaming, services like Steam and OnLive are giving us tastes of what it’s like to have everything you own at your fingertips (or at least a couple hours of downloads away), and the Xbox 360 even has a Cloud storage option currently.
But actually moving to a completely digital distribution for a console is a bit of a stretch, for several reasons. For one, even when games are available from Xbox Live many people prefer to have a disc for the fact that it’s a physical representation, and can’t be deleted. Of course, there are just as many who love the idea of digital delivery for the fact that they don’t want discs, so it’s a split market.
One that is not split, however, is the market of both retailers and consumers who are set to lose out if a console decides to go completely digital. In this article on digital delivery, I elaborated on all the money that stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and GameStop are set to lose out on if they can’t sell discs. So why would any of these stores sell the consoles? There would be almost no money in it for them beyond the initial sale. And many people can’t or don’t connect their consoles to the internet. How are they to get these games?
I won’t recant the entire article, but I gave a cursory and very rough estimate of 35 million consoles not connected to Xbox Live, which would be 35 million consoles that either can’t purchase games, OR can’t access games purchased on other consoles. That’s over half of the current number of 360s on the market.
Unless that number somehow jumped up to at least 90% before the Xbox 720 came out, there’s no way Microsoft would throw away all that potential revenue.
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will not have a disc tray
Verdict: Impossible, or next to it.
The Xbox 720 will use Blu-Ray for movies and games
Oddly enough, a rumor that gives yet another reason why it won’t be digital, but that’s not the point. The Xbox 360 made a mistake, that’s a plain and simple fact. They bet on the wrong horse, and because of that, their early-game peripherals for HD DVDs are now essentially little more than expensive paperweights. Whether it’s good or bad, the Blu-Ray discs prevailed over the HD DVDs, and they’re here to stay until the next big media comes along.
The Xbox 720 will almost certainly use Blu-Ray, if only to appease the customers. It’s possible many customers on the fence bought a PS3 just because they would rather pay the extra $100 for a PS3 so that they didn’t have to buy a gaming console and then a Blu-Ray player on top of that, which would almost certainly be more than the price difference. Gamers aren’t typically very happy when they open up a disc case and see that they’ll have to switch between three separate discs just to play the same game PS3 users get on one, either.
Even if it gave them an advantage, Blu-Ray players may not be only Sony soon. Microsoft will probably put it in kicking and screaming, but if they want to stay current, and if they want to keep others from going to Sony just for the movie playing aspects and the decreased hassle of disc management, they’ll likely have to add this in.
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will use Blu-Ray discs and play Blu-Ray movies.
Verdict: It’s a smart move, but it depends on how stubborn they want to be. Likely.
The Xbox 720 will not play used games
No, no, no, no-no-no-no. While you’ll never hear me accuse any corporation of being overly smart, killing off the second-hand gaming market is not the move of any company with common sense. For one thing, this wouldn’t stop the determined; there would still be those who would crack their consoles, just as there exist PS3s which have been hacked. And for another thing, this is one sure-fire way to piss off the consumer.
The fact is that a lot of people don’t buy new games until they’ve been out for a while, or until they find a used game for cheap. You can get a $60 game for just under $50 if you buy it from GameStop with a membership card. You can get a $50 game for $35 or less, depending on popularity. The fact is, people don’t like the $60 price tag. And if it goes up to $70 or more with the next generation, even less people will be willing to buy games new.
Eliminating used games would make it impossible even for legitimate users to sell their Xbox 720 games at a garage sale, or the like, and would thus lower the number of slaes through the simple fact that gamers wouldn’t want to make such a final decision. At least if you don’t like a game you buy, you can trade it to your friend for one of his, or if it’s from GameStop you can even take it back within a week for no reason other than the fact that you don’t like it.
Gamefly, Blockbusters, Red Box games, Netflix (if it ever had plans to, or decides to start renting games), and every other service that rents games will be S-O-L. GameStop will easily lose 50% of its revenue, if not more, when used games become not just unliked but completely unusable.
More importantly, console sales will drop. And adding this feature in won’t improve them; nobody is going to buy the Xbox 720 because they chose not to support the secondhand games market. If anything, floods of Microsoft fans will run to Sony (assuming they didn’t add the same feature), screaming and raging all the while over the ludicrous removal of used games.
The point is, Microsoft should be much, much more worried about making the consumers happy than they should about the developers. Yes, the developers are important, but there would be a very noticeable dent in console sales if this happened – and wouldn’t that, too, decrease game sales?
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will not play used games
Verdict: Only if Microsoft wants to simultaneously lose consumers, anger the ones that remain, and still cause developers to lose money through a shrunken consumer base. Even with developers likely putting pressure on console companies to do something, it still seems highly, highly unlikely.
The Xbox 720 will run Windows 8
While Microsoft, as any good software company should, loves their OS like no other, it seems unlikely that a console would ever run an actual PC OS. If only for the fact that this would make it ridiculously easier for hackers and pirates to steal software and make it run on their consoles, what we’ll likely see is a very, very dumbed down version of Windows 8, if anything. More likely, though, we’ll see yet another custom OS from Microsoft specifically designed for the Xbox 720.
The rumors seem to originate from Microsoft’s statements that it wants to create a unified ecosystem, combining Windows Phones, PCs, Tablets, and consoles, as well as basically every Microsoft product capable of being unified in such a way. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be running the same OS; just that their OS will interface in a very easily compatible way.
Still, it’s not entirely impossible; with the proper security features, a legitimate PC OS could improve the functionality of an Xbox 720, especially with so many features that don’t revolve around gaming, like the ability to google, Netflix, Hulu, and dozens of other alternate services like ESPN. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, regarding Microsoft’s announcements.
Rumor: The Xbox 720 will run Windows 8
Verdict: Currently seems somewhat unlikely, but unclear. Watch carefully.
There you are. A rundown of most rumors about the upcoming Microsoft console. These are some fact, some opinion, so it’s likely that you will think some of these are more likely and some are less likely. Some rumors have been omitted because they seem less based on actual inside sources reporting, and more based on what people think (or hope) will happen with the next generation – for example, rumors have been circulating about a smaller controller, but these rarely seem linked back to a source from Microsoft or a closely associated company in the industry.
What rumors have you heard? What do you hope will happen with the next Xbox? Share below!