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Next Xbox Rumor Roundup

A look back at some of the rumors that have dogged the Next Xbox as we prepare for tomorrow's announcement.

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Microsoft will announce their next Xbox console tomorrow and Shacknews will have live updates. All day today, we'll take a look back at the Xbox 360 and discuss what the future holds.


Like any console on the verge of announcement, the Next Xbox has been rife with rumors for months. Some are more persistent than others, but as time has passed without official word from Microsoft, the console has gained a very distinct image in the collective minds of the Internet. This isn't necessarily what the console will be, but it's what the Internet thinks it will be. Starting tomorrow, we get to discover just how close the rumors were to the reality.

Xbox 360 games on the Next Xbox

In April, a Bloomberg report stated matter-of-factly that Xbox 360 games won't be compatible with the new console. This was hardly surprising, since the Xbox 360 used an emulation method to offer limited compatibility with original Xbox games. The console enjoyed healthy sales through its lifespan, which could have indicated to Microsoft that players didn't value BC as much as we might expect.

Shortly after, though, another rumor claimed that the backwards compatibility would be separated by model types. Users who wanted a console that could play their old games would reportedly have to shell out an extra $150 -- almost as much as simply buying a new Xbox 360 itself.

New Controller

The Xbox 360 controller hasn't received many complaints, but documentation purportedly from Microsoft appears to boast improved ergonomics and lower latency in the next version of the controller. No word on a new D-pad, so fingers crossed everybody.

Always-On Kinect

The Kinect was Microsoft's jump into motion-based gaming, but it was an add-on that granted some functionality and exclusive games. The next console may make it a vital part of the experience. According to a report the Next Xbox will come equipped with a Kinect, and it must be plugged in and calibrated to even function. That will allow developers to count on it and create games with both devices in mind from the very beginning. For its part, the device sounds much more capable, sporting the ability to detect up to six people, and instantly identify users. The darker side of that is the ability to block content to unregistered users, as Microsoft patented last year.

Free-to-play Push

It should come as no surprise that console manufacturers are eager to catch up with the PC's bustling free-to-play market. Epic Games VP Mark Rein recently claimed that both Microsoft and Sony are actively courting developers with promises of F2P functionality and built-in business models to allow for in-app purchases.

The Always-Online Fiasco

Rumors had lingered for months that one or both of the next-generation consoles would require an always-on Internet connection, with one particularly detailed rumor claiming the next Xbox would have a 3-minute grace period. As the rumor went, the console would give three minutes of a lapsed connection before cutting off access to your game, as a way to account for connections that occasionally lapse. Adding fuel to the fire was a Microsoft director, Adam Orth, who took to Twitter to express his confusion over the fuss. "Every device now is 'always on,'" he said. "That's the world we live in." Microsoft hastily issued an apology for his comments, distanced his opinions from those of the company, and he subsequently left.

More recently, a rumored internal e-mail claimed the console would "just work" offline when engaging in activities that one would reasonably expect: watching a Blu-Ray disc, watching live TV, or playing a single-player game. The conflicting reports mean that one of them is in error, or Microsoft changed its mind.

Xbox expands to Entertainment

The reported memo regarding the Xbox's always-online status (or lack thereof) also gave an indication of its long-rumored entertainment plans. The mention of live TV tied into what we had heard for months, that Microsoft plans to shift the Xbox to a represent a general entertainment brand. This was backed up by LinkedIn profiles from Microsoft engineers, which stated they aim to "radically change the way we watch TV" and "reposition Xbox to serve an audience beyond traditional gamers." The company is even looking into expanding its original programming to complement its variety of TV apps.

What's in a name?

Guesses at the name of the next Xbox have ranged from the "Xbox Infinity" to the elegantly reductive "Xbox." A series of domain registrations seem to imply significance to the name "Xbox Fusion." The name implies disparate causes being brought together, which could tie into the other persistent rumor about Microsoft's entertainment plans.

Respawn Exclusive

Microsoft surely wants to make a splash with the next generation, and has had a good relationship with Activision to offer timed exclusives for Call of Duty content. It could have another big deal in the works, as a recent rumor states that the next Xbox will get the first game from Respawn Entertainment as an exclusive. The "Titan" project is rumored to be a large-scale mech game, which ties into previous reports regarding a sci-fi focus for the new developer. We may see the first footage or an announcement at tomorrow's event.

If so, the new studio from Jason West and Vince Zampella would be sharing a stage with their former employers, Activision. We already know that the presentation will include a first look at the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts.

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  • reply
    May 20, 2013 10:30 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Next Xbox Rumor Roundup.

    A look back at some of the rumors that have dogged the Next Xbox as we prepare for tomorrow's announcement.

    • reply
      May 20, 2013 11:10 AM

      Just announce the thing already!

    • reply
      May 20, 2013 11:33 AM

      "Glove Attachment" FINALLY!!!

    • reply
      May 20, 2013 11:44 AM

      OMG respawn MMO FPS equals awesome!!!

    • reply
      May 20, 2013 11:45 AM

      And I'm all tingly in the midsection.

    • reply
      May 20, 2013 2:47 PM

      This better be good. Not the same 'ol shit.

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      May 20, 2013 5:19 PM

      The name XBOX doesn't make much sense. Normally it makes sense to back back to the original name when you're half a dozen different names in to come back to the original.

      • reply
        May 20, 2013 5:54 PM

        The XBOX 3

        X3

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        May 20, 2013 6:03 PM

        How about X-BOX^n

        It'll go as the n for short. People will subconsciously associate their happy gameplay experiences from their youthful Nintendo days with this new console and its got a simple ring to it.

        Why n? because it makes people think of limitless exponents and that is what they will hope to deliver, a limitless number of worlds in an ever expanding virtual box.

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      May 20, 2013 6:36 PM

      Is Kinect a salespoint for anyone?

      I thought it was cool, but could never figure out how it might be useful. I'm not dinging it, I just don't how it can become an integral part of gaming. Even for media stuff, it doesn't really seem that useful.

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        May 20, 2013 7:07 PM

        We mainly use it when we're too lazy to find the controller.

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        May 20, 2013 7:12 PM

        It's ridiculously useful for media even with its faults. I almost always use it to launch Netflix and start up whatever TV show I'm currently into rather than the controller (especially since I'm likely going to be in the kitchen grabbing a drink and a snack which I can do while the 'previously on' is running).

        When I want to watch a movie or something the Bing search results are more useful than anything I can get even on my PC. The question is always 'where is this movie and for how much' (aka can I stream it for free on Netflix? no? then who has it cheapest for VOD?) and there's no good UI for answering that on my tablets or PCs.

        For gaming I think there's still a ton of untapped potential as the tech improves, particularly for dialog heavy games like Skyrim and Mass Effect and sports games with lots of on the fly commands for your player and teammates.

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          May 20, 2013 7:27 PM

          Worth the additional cost?

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            May 20, 2013 7:37 PM

            I know some people would say no, I bought it for the media functionality with hopes there'd be more useful game related stuff to justify the purchase. Unfortunately that didn't really materialize unless you're into dance/family/party games but I still do use the Kinect basically every day for media stuff. Unfortunately with how well it works once the media is playing sound (not well) it'd be hard to recommend purely as a pricey/fancy remote, much as I enjoy it.

            Probably also depends on your intentions with the next gen consoles. If you intend to get the next Xbox reasonably early I'd think whatever Kinect thing goes with that would make the current one pretty obsolete.

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              May 20, 2013 8:01 PM

              Well, with the HDMI pass through capability, it might be even more useful for media stuff on the next Xbox. I think it's very interesting stuff, but not really all that compelling. It will be cool if they can find more uses for it.

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        May 20, 2013 7:33 PM

        It sucks. Does that answer your question

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        May 20, 2013 7:33 PM

        If they got rid of the lag, then it could be really great. But for me i could never get over the lag.

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        May 20, 2013 8:51 PM

        its hard to be a party game with all the space required

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          May 20, 2013 9:08 PM

          it doesn't really take any more room than 4 player Guitar Hero/Rockband which plenty of people seemed ok with

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            May 20, 2013 9:38 PM

            the amount of space may be the same, but the flexibility of the space is really different - with the music games you can put things off to the side, work around furniture, etc. - not so easy with Kinect

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        May 20, 2013 9:37 PM

        i love voice search for navigating the UI. Other than that, meh.

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        May 20, 2013 9:58 PM

        the first version was pretty technically weak (despite doing some amazing stuff) - this new version will change things quite a lot I think. It will be much, much higher resolution , and far lower latency.

        As someone who uses gaming tech in non-gaming areas I'm pretty excited to start working with it.

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          May 20, 2013 10:09 PM

          suddenly I was reminded of the United States Air Force having issues with PS3 firmware being updated.

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        May 20, 2013 10:41 PM

        it's fun if you want to work at your games. I imagine future iterations will improve the tech.

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