It’s about that time in the console generation when rumors start flying around like wild. Many of them make you excited for all the wonderful gaming possibilities the future can hold, others are a little bit more terrifying. Naturally, as “Xbox 720″ enthusiasm keeps snowballing, we’re going to get a bit of both. For instance, the new Xbox is rumored to be at least 6 times more powerful than the 360, support Blu-ray, and bring a new version of Kinect along with it. The catch? It may not support used games.
Just to disclaim before getting in any deeper here, these are all rumors from unverified sources, with a side of rampant speculation.
“Games industry sources” have come to Kotaku to suggest that the new Xbox — hereafter referred to as the 720 for convenience — will be stepping up from the 360, which can only support 9 GB DVD, to Blu-ray support, Blu-rays being able to carry a staggering 25 or 50 GB load. Obviously, this would allow for more assets on less discs. No more 3-disc games like L.A. Noire. This also plays into Microsoft’s very transparent plans to make the Xbox a complete home entertainment suite.
The more troubling disc-based rumor is that the 720 may not support used games. As the kind of person who is expecting a used copy of MechAssault bought for fou dollars on Amazon to show up at the office today, this terrifies me. Of course, given that there’s no confirmation that this is actually the case, there’s no word on how such a thing might be achieved. That aside, it’s easy to speculate. The most likely scenario would be that all games are linked to Xbox Live accounts, rendering discs useless on non-synced accounts. Publishers, who have hated used games for a while now, would probably be all for that. Gamers, not so much.
You might be able to get around something like that by staying offline, but that’s less of a worthwhile approach as time goes on and connectivity gets more important. That being the case, more DRM doesn’t seem like an answer, the better solution — the one people should also be taking to piracy — would be to change the content delivery system. If more games were available digitally, for example, you could offload some of the purchases into pure digital content, leaving less discs out there to be circulating used. Then again, that could require a lot of storage space and a good Internet connection, but Steam does it, so who knows?
The 720 is also rumored to support a new version of Kinect. Not just a cosmetic restructuring, the new Kinect — Kinect 2, perhaps — is rumored to have an onboard processor. This was planned for the original Kinect, but never came to fruition. Its inclusion could drastically improve the Kinect’s body-recognizing fidelity, which is pretty much the only thing the Kinect needs if you’re sold on the concept of it.
Other sources are reporting that the 720 is going to be 6 times more powerful than the 360, but again, there’s little to go on here. The number has to do with the new system’s potential processor, but until people start getting development kits, there’s no telling what the practical power of the 720 is really going to be.
In light of all this “information” swirling around, Microsoft has commented on the rumors, kind of. A statement sent to Kotaku reads:
“As an innovator we’re always thinking about what is next and how we can push the boundaries of technology like we did with Kinect. We believe the key to extending the lifespan of a console is not just about the console hardware, but about the games and entertainment experiences being delivered to consumers. Beyond that we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”
Or basically, “We like Kinect. That is all.” Hooray.
As the year rolls on, we’re only going to start hearing more and more about the 720, and hopefully some of these rumors will be confirmed and denied. Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not it’ll actually be called the 720, especially after at least a half year of it being referred to as such, that is, if Microsoft announces the new console at this year’s E3. For the time being, we’ll all just have to feed on rumors and fantasize about how awesome this next generation is going to be, that and about having enough money to afford it all.
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