The day of reckoning is fast approaching. After what is perhaps one of the longest console generations ever seen, Microsoft will finally announce their next iteration of the wildly successful Xbox.
But other than a direct-to-console Porn service (because it is just so hard to get instant access to that stuff otherwise), what do we know about the upcoming system? Well we could wait these next few hours and find out, but this is the internet, and round here we SPECULATE, so it's time to look at what we know so far.
The Xbox 360 started out pretty bare and basic, featuring only games, a spartan online service, dvd capability, and a built-in Russian-Roulette style system ensuring that the console would break after a certain period of time and display a bright red light. At least I THINK that was feature.
But since then the console has evolved, expanding on its internet service to include Netflix and other streaming services, Pizza Delivery, and an expanding downloadable market, so it seems reasonable that the NeXtBox (as I have decided to call it from now on... 'til its actual name is revealed tomorrow) would
expand on this area.
This could (perhaps) allow for Live Television Streaming, and, given that Microsoft acquired Skype some years ago, maybe a built-in Skype system to allow anyone with Xbox Live Subscriptions to make live videocalls, and such things. Whatever peripherals the console may have, the ability to play Blu-Ray discs is already confirmed; though they're a little late to the mark on that one, really.
Kinect will also be a built-in feature of the console, and we can only hope that game designers use that tech responsibly. If I have to wave my arms around to own noobies in Halo 5, there WILL be blood. Mine. Because I'll accidentally punch my lamp again.
But it's not all social media peripherals and gimmicky doodads! This thing also actually plays games, and to that end we can expect the NeXtBox to give us from the get-go? Bungie's hotly-talked about Destiny is a notable headliner, allowing you to run around and shoot things in High-Definition graphics. EA's Battlefield 4 will also be a fan-favourite for sure, thanks to it allowing you to run around and shoot things in High-Definition graphics. Mafia 3 is also said to be in development. Which is very exciting news as it is sure to allow players to run around and shoot things in High-Definition graphics, but with a melancholic sheen.
If shooting things somehow isn't your thing, Need For Speed and Forza have you covered with their latest iterations allowing you to drive cars with an even better poly count than before.
Powering all this hot steamy action is a system that boasts a (rumoured) 1.6GHz AMD processor arranged in two sets of quad-cores, as well as an 800MHz graphics processor with 12 shader cored and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. All these fancy numbers leave the device falling short next to the Playstation 4, though the Xbox 360 was technically inferior to Sony's counterpart as well, and the two systems managed to stay in healthy competition all the same.
As for the price of the device, we're all in rumour territory, but it's believed that pricing will come in two models. Either a straight-up cost of $499, or a cost of $299 with a mandatory two year subscription to the $10 a month Xbox Live service. The latter ends up more expensive in the end, but is probably
the one to go for if you're a primarily online gamer, providing you can get over the indignity of such an expensive online service still existing in 2013.
There are also rumours that the NeXtBox will perform an online check on game discs to block the playing of used games, and/or run games directly from the hard drive, thus rendering discs useless after install. Just in case you felt like you weren't already getting too much value for money.
Also in the rumour department is theIllumiRoom, a bit of tech that has been displayed in limited conditions before. The IllumiRoom would be a projector placed somewhere in your room that would impose images all over your walls to extend the game environment beyond your television, with the Kinect adjusting the image to suit your room's dimensions. This would increase immersion. Unless of course your room took in any amount of sunlight ever at any point no matter what. In a world where the Oculus Rift is fast becoming a consumer reality, it's hard to see where this frankly-tacky sounding bit of tech would find a place.
In a world that demands that all technology be multifunctional no matter what there's no doubt that whatever the NeXtBox ends up being, it'll be jam-packed with all sorts of features, and as always, some will become household mainstays while others will fall into obscurity, and the NeXtBox will grow and evolve and pulsate over the coming years, just as the 360 did before it. All will be revealed tomorrow.
Except probably not. It's a corporate event after all; you're more likely to see guys in suits act like prats while almost-but-not-quite relevant pop groups put on awkwardly unfitting performances and everyone acts as excited as humanly possible. Expect strobe lights at some point, too.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.