Manufacturers rarely let slip that a new product is in the works. Why? Because they don’t want consumers holding off on buying products that are actually available in the market. If they confirm that they’re brewing something new, sales of current products would simply plummet.
This is the reason Microsoft, as well as Sony, keeps denying that it’s working on a new Xbox console. Still, that doesn’t mean that people with knowledge aren’t talking.
In January, VGleaks posted specs and photos of the next Xbox, codenamed Durango. It looked like a computer box or CPU of a desktop PC, but that’s not its final form. According to the site, that’s just what Microsoft gives game developers who want to create games for the upcoming Xbox. Microsoft doesn’t want images of the next Xbox to be revealed unless they are the one doing it. The Durango’s rumored features can be found here, What Will the Next Xbox Have? Leaked Specs Hit the Market.
More leaked info
According to SuperDaE, the person who tried to sell a Durango Development Kit on eBay last year, the next Xbox will be able to run multiple games at one, require game installations, and will not work unless a superior version of the Kinect is plugged in.
The much improved Kinect will be shipped with every Durango sold, which means that all Xbox users of the future will have Kinect since the console won’t function unless it is plugged in and calibrated. What this means for developers is that they can now create more games that utilizes the Kinect since they can be sure that everyone with a Durango has a Kinect.
The Durango is also adopting the mobile platform that allows users to perform multiple tasks without having to end one program. Right now, to be able to tweet using Xbox 360, you need to shutdown the game you are playing. The Durango eliminates this constraint by allowing games to be put on hold, switch to a second game, go back to the first game, without losing your place in the game.
The Durango will also have a new game controller that will feature a “new wireless technology.” Not much has been said about the new controller except that it would still look like the old Xbox 360 controller.
The Xbox home entertainment system
I know most you have already noticed that Microsoft is transforming the Xbox from a dedicated gaming console to a full-fledged home entertainment system.
In 2011, Microsoft started introducing video content to Xbox users via YouTube, Verizon FiOS TV for US users and Rogers on Demand for those in Canada. In 2012, more high-profile video apps appeared on the Xbox such as Comcast Xfinity TV, HBO Go and MLB.tv.
Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, stated that 18 billion hours of entertainment have already been consumed in the Xbox, with Netflix being the primary source. He takes pride in the fact that there are already more than 76 million Xbox consoles around the world and people are seeing the entertainment benefits of having one in a household compared to owning a Sony PlayStation 3.
“We believe that Xbox is being used by more people in the household, during more hours in the day and for more forms of entertainment,” Mehdi says. “People are using Xbox in the morning to work out with the Kinect Nike+ Fitness program, kids are watching cartoons, families are enjoying movies, and of course people are playing blockbuster games like ‘Halo 4.'”
Microsoft is also pushing for premium content on Xbox Live which will surely come with a price, but there’s a huge chance that it will be offered in entertainment bundles to keep consumers happy.
Microsoft is also planning on launching its very own interactive TV show by the end of 2013. Microsoft entertainment and digital media President Nancy Tellem, who previously worked for CBS, explained that she is working on making shows more interactive by utilizing Kinect while making sense of how the technology is actually being offered to audiences.
“It has to be organic and a natural extension of what we are doing,” says Tellem who cited examples including live shows, or children’s programming where kids can interact with the characters on screen.
Microsoft is working its magic. Durango may be in the works, it could be available this year, or maybe next year, but one thing’s for sure, Microsoft is not ready to reveal its plans yet. So they’re waving a magical sheet, pumping up the Xbox 360 with more entertainment features, over the rumored stories to keep people distracted for the mean time.