Both Sony and Microsoft have hit the headlines this week regarding their plans for the next Xbox and the PS4. While neither console has been officially announced it’s thought by many that both manufacturers will unveil replacement consoles, which are expected to be released this year.
The countdown begins
First of all, Microsoft big-wig Major Nelson cryptically posted a countdown timer on his blog for this year’s E3 in Los Angeles, while that isn’t a surprise, there was a caveat of “It’s On” below the timer, which has led to many to believe Microsoft will indeed reveal their next console at the infamous gaming convention in June.
This latest rumour chimes with what we heard during 2012 as last year was chocka-block with rumours about Microsoft’s next console, with leaks suggesting the console’s codename was Durango and would be revealed sometime in 2013, with a release expected Christmas release.
Interestingly most of 2012’s more believable leaks came from loose-lipped developers who were taking delivery of early PC-based developer kits and many of those dev also attended Microsoft’s developer conference, where tweets referring to the console made their way onto social networks, fuelling even more fire to the rumours. Also, this summer two proposed Xbox Durango developer kits were placed on Ebay for sale and went for a reported $20,000.
Specs of the future
As for specs they’re a little harder to pin down; it’s thought that the console will see a significant upgrade, with devs and fans speculating the console with have 8GB of memory (substantially more than its predecessor) and a Nvidia based keplar graphic chipset. Elsewhere it’s been long rumoured a new version of its Kinect camera will also ship with the console – but that would make it difficult to stay below that all important £299 price tag.
Now that Microsoft has seemingly fired the start gun, eyes turn to Sony and a Playstation 4 announcement, which is thought to be on its way in 2013, especially as Sony has expressed its desire not to release their new console too far behind Microsoft – and not repeat the same mistake it made the PS3.
Sony Eyeing up lucrative second-hand market?
This week Sony hit the headlines after a patent appeared outline showcasing a new technology to prevent games from being sold as second hand. The patent would work with a always-on internet connection for verification of game discs. There’s no suggestion that this patent or technology will be used – but it does give us an idea of the detailed development of next generation consoles.
It seems that the market will be the final deciding factor on whether we’re ready for a new raft of consoles. According to the latest retail sales software sales slumped by 17% compared to last year. Downloadable games were of course up, but their rise wasn’t enough to off-set the slump of physical games – so resulted in a net loss of sales. Traditionally new consoles drive new growth in the market, but if you look a Nintendo’s new console this upsurge didn’t really appear, for whatever reason.
Price Will Be A Major Factor To Success
Price will no doubt be a massive factor for next generation consoles, Sony almost bankrupt itself with the Cell processor for the PS3 – so making a console that turns a profit early on in its life cycle could be incredibly important. That magic price point both console makers should be aiming for is £299 with a release date of this year’s lucrative Christmas period.
It’s Well And Truly On
There’s no doubt that we should expect a raft rumours and speculation over the coming months as the console marker shifts it’s focus from old to new, and it’s no coincidence that this year’s Christmas’ games lineup look more than a little thin, especially as it been widely reported that several top studios are already knee-deep in next gen games. Whatever the case, the countdown is now ticking and as Major Nelson so succinctly put it in his blog post, this is well and truly on.