It’s next-gen time for the big gaming consoles. Nintendo struck first with the Wii U, and Sony already spilled the beans on the PS4. Now it's Microsoft's turn, with multiple sources pointing to a May announcement – and November release date – for the next Xbox.
Windows blogger Paul Thurrott let the cat out of the bag in his What the Tech podcast (later confirmed by The Verge): Microsoft will tell us all about the next Xbox at an event on May 21.
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The date falls several weeks before E3 2013. That puts Microsoft in the same boat as Sony: announcing its console at its own standalone event. Why share the spotlight when you don’t have to? Or at least so the thinking goes.
Thurrott added that the console would ship in “early November.” He also suggested that it’s going to cost a pretty penny: “$500 ... $300 with a subscription, that kind of thing.”
A subscription subsidy would fit with Microsoft's "connected living room" vision: it plays games, but doubles as a central hub for TV, movies, and whatnot. Syncing with Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices will naturally be seamless. We'll see how that goes.
Always on? “Deal with it”
We still don’t know how Microsoft will brand the console (Durango is its well-leaked codename, and Xbox 720 is the internet's nickname for it). But one thing is becoming more apparent: it’s going to require an always-on internet connection.
Microsoft is walking on shaky ground there. Sure, most of us are always connected to the internet anyway. But what about rural customers with no internet? What about internet outages, when you were relying on Halo to keep you entertained? What about the risk of Microsoft’s servers hiccupping and leaving your expensive machine temporarily unplayable?
An always-on internet connection is a dicey enough proposition on its own. But it only makes things worse when an employee mocks customers’ reservations about it.
That’s what happened when Microsoft Creative Director Adam Orth responded to always-online rumors with the oh-so empathetic hashtag #dealwithit. Microsoft apologized for the tweets, but didn’t deny the always-online reports.
So, if the rumors are true, both the PS4 and next Xbox will be launching around the same time – right before the holidays. We can also expect to hear more about both consoles at E3.
Gizmag will be on the ground at E3 to bring you all the news, and hopefully some hands-on time. For Microsoft's sake, let's just hope that the L.A. Convention Center's internet connection holds up.