Right, now Microsoft will obviously be releasing a new console at some point in the near or far future, and there have been many rumors as to what it will be called, what its spec will be, etc.

So slake your thirst for knowledge, I have scoured the interwebs looking for all the latest and greatest rumors for your information, and potential enjoyment.

Back in March Microsoft put up some job postings for the Xbox Console Architecture team. Candidates that were successful would join a team “responsible for defining and delivering next generation console architectures from conception through implementation”

Now it could be that this was for Kinect, or Windows Phone 7 Xbox linkage…but it pretty much hints at another console.

Spec…

The Xbox 360 was launched in 2005 and is still graphically impressive 6 years later, and that is with tech that was available en mass in 2004. At the time of launch, the Xbox 360 had a Custom made IBM Power PC with three 3.2ghz cores and an ATI graphics processor.

Now take for example a PC built in 2011. You will more than likely find an i5 or i7 core, Sandy bridge CPU, Nvidia or ATI graphics card, at least a terabyte hard drive, and 6-8gb of ram! That’s a hell of a difference to what was available in 2004.

In an interview with Cevat Yerli, the boss at Crytek (Crysis & Crysis 2) Cevat believes that the PC is pretty much a generation ahead of the PS3 & Xbox 360.

“As long as the current console generation exists and as long as we keep pushing the PC as well, the more difficult it will be to really get the benefit of both”.

In many ways, I agree. Being a console man, primarily, I love the fact that I can buy a game, know it works, and enjoy it as the developers intended. However, I see PC games running at the max spec or what the game was originally built for (Take Crysis 2 for example) and it looks so much crisper, cleaner, and allows for bigger multi-playing.

While consoles have certainly taken a large portion of the PC gaming population, how long it will take until we are all playing on ‘mini PC’s’ without really knowing it, who knows.

Storage…

With the current 360 running on generic DVD’s and having up to 250gb internal (albeit removable) storage, what will the case be with the Xbox 720?

Cloud storage is one option, and Steam on PC does it particularly well. However, even in this day and age, not everyone has the Internet, and with the UK woefully behind in the broadband speed stakes, it is certainly not something I would welcome. The potential is certainly there, and just selecting what game you want, paying and then playing from the comfort of your couch/beanbag/lazyboy/bedroom is certainly a tempting and exciting idea.

The next obvious format for the Xbox, however, is Blu-ray. Microsoft has previously stated that they refuse to add it to current 360 iterations, but will this be the case for their next? Who knows? Might even be flash drives for all we know!

The Controller…

Interface, one of the biggest sinkholes for research. Ask any hardware developer and they will tell you that the amount of man hours, money and marketing that goes into the design and feel of the controller is huge. This goes for phones, cameras, remote controls, anything that you have to interact with. It needs to fit most peoples hands, can’t be too light, or too heavy. It will have to be ergonomic to prevent repetitive strain injury as much as possible. The colors have to be pleasing aesthetically, but also have some correlation to that of the console it serves.

Will Microsoft stay with the design for the 360 controller, maybe slightly tweaked in places, or will they be more focused on Kinect the “fastest selling consumer electronics device”. Not entirely sure I could imagine Call of Duty: Really really advanced modern phaser based warfare by jumping around my living room…something would break, and it would probably be me.

Windows 8…

With the announcement of Windows 8 and the massive design overhaul that it has gone through to match that of Windows Phone 7, will the Xbox 720 dashboard jump on-board too? With all the Kinect updates, its seems unlikely, but then, it’ll only need a lick of color really….wont it?

Release Date…

Microsoft has publicly stated that the 360 has at least a 10 year lifespan to match that of the PS3. This would effectively place the launch of any new console from Microsoft in 2015.

Crytek CEO Cevat Yeril thinks that we are due a new console around 2012 or 2013, whereas Square Enix is looking more toward a 2014-2015 launch date. In fact, they seem so sure that Square Enix is opening a second Canadian development studio in 2012.

“The new consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo will require more attention and more staff” ” We want to prepare ourselves” – Ste’phanie d’Astous – Square Enix.

2012 Showcase?

A ‘high ranking source’ at Crytek has stated that any new console from Microsoft will likely be unveiled at E3 2012. They have also stated that Timesplitters 4 is currently in development for a next generation console using Microsoft’s updated Dx11 development tool.

So there you go, that’s most of the accurate(ish) rumors about the Xbox 720, or whatever it is they decide to call it. None of the above is absolutely confirmed, and is predominantly rumors and observations from around the internet.

Some of it, I’m hoping will be true, others, probably not, but then who knows? We have been surprised by several announcements at E3 in the past, and we’ll just have to keep an eye out for next year’s….

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