Rumor Mill: Next Xbox vs. Next PlayStation
With the impending releases of the next Xbox and PlayStation consoles this year we have had an influx of rumored information. Obviously, none of this is true until we hear officially from Microsoft or Sony, but we can always play the speculation game and talk about whether we think they would make a good or bad move with certain aspects of what they're bringing to the table. So, let's start off with the information we have about the "Durango."
THE NEXT XBOX
There is already a breadth of information about the next Xbox, code-named "Durango", so I am going to go through the information that has been "leaked" so far. Let's start with the latest and most controversial aspect of Durango so far.
This week Edge reported that the next Xbox will need a constant online connection to be played while at the same time eliminated the ability to play used games. Now, I can completely understand why they would want to go this route, but if they have officially taken this stance I think it could come back to bite Microsoft on the ass. Microsoft's biggest market for the Xbox is by far the US, and if they go this route it could alienate half of the country. There are still so many areas who either don't have a high speed internet connection or they have a spotty one at best. What happens if the internet goes down? We just won't be able to play games? That seems pretty preposterous to me. I understand the want to cut out the used games industry, and if you look at services like Steam it can work and has worked on a PC level. However, PC gamers are still in the minority in comparison. This wouldn't really affect me personally, as my internet connection rarely sees any downtime, but it could screw the average consumer who just wants to play video games. Also, they run the risk of making the next Xbox come off as more of a luxury product as people will have to pay more for games due to them not being able to obtain a used copy as well as have to pay for a high speed internet connection. Do I expect this to happen the future? Yes, I do, but I just don't think we're quite there yet. So, we'll throw this up in the mistake column.
Let's Get Physical.....Media
The next Xbox will have a Blu-ray player. Surprised? Shocked? Awed? Yeah, I'm not either. This seems like a no-brainer to me. Microsoft could try to go the proprietary way with their own disc format, but I think it makes sense for them to go the Blu-ray route. Microsoft wants their next Xbox to be the home media center and not just a video game console, and with Blu-ray discs becoming cheaper and the medium gaining more mainstream acceptance it seems like a smart move by them. Not to mention the fact that we won't have games with 2-4 discs to swap out!
That Other Minutiae
- AMD Eight-Core x64 1.6 GHZ CPU
- D3D11.x 800MHz graphics solution
- 8GB of DDR3 RAM
So, the next Xbox is going to be way more powerful than the Xbox 360. No one is surprised, and with a new console generation you are going to see an upgrade. I am expecting less of a visual upgrade in this next generation since it's not really needed. I think it will be more about the details and everything will have a lot more that depth, things will run faster, etc. The hardware aspect is impressive, but it will be on par with high end PCs. The specs look good, and they are great for a console, plus we all know it's not about how powerful your system is.
Kinected to You
Much like the original Xbox to the Xbox 360, the original Kinect is very much a beta test for the next one. So, it shouldn't be surprising at all that according to leaks and rumors that "Durango" will come with a newer better version of Kinect. Now, whether that will be a multiple camera set-up or something built into the next Xbox remains to be seen. I do think that the Kinect has great potential if the hardware is made better. We also need some very talented developers to use that hardware well to reach that potential. Also, The Verge has reported that the next Xbox will have better speech recognition. I would say that the current Kinect hardware is pretty impressive when it comes to speech, but they are improving upon that with natural speech recognition which is similar to Apple's Siri. Honestly, if Kinect is done right it can certainly be the future in gaming. I love the idea of Kinect more than I have liked the actual execution of Kinect, so I really think that Microsoft needs to hit the ground running in its next iteration of the hardware.
THE NEXT PLAYSTATION
The next PlayStation, code-named "Orbis", may be the huge announcement that Sony has for us on February 20th. So, any rumors about "Orbis" will be confirmed or denied for us in about two weeks.
We Also Hate Your Used Games
According to a possible rumor on NeoGAF and reported by Kotaku notes that Sony has patented a technology to keep you from using used games on the next PlayStation. Despite Jack Tretton, head of Sony Computer Entertainment America, saying that they were "totally opposed" to the idea it really comes down to what their parent company in Japan wants to do with its new console. For the same reasons I stated above, I think this is a horrible idea for the either Sony or Microsoft as it alienates the consumer. Let's also mention that at a certain point games are no longer being manufactured, so there would only be a finite amount of people able to obtain certain games. Granted, Sony right now is doing a great job at having PS3 releases available on the PlayStation Network the same day as their retail releases. However, while I am perfectly fine with the digital revolution it will absolutely segregate a good portion of the customer base who either aren't ready to give up their discs or just don't have a good enough connection. While I think the all digital console generation will come to pass in our lifetimes I don't think now is that time.
Share With The World
According to Edge, the new controller for the PlayStation "Orbis" will feature both a touch panel (I'm assuming similar to that of the back of the Vita) and a "Share" button. The Share button will allow you to take screenshots of games and share them to Facebook or Twitter, while the system itself will allow you to go back to the last 15 minutes of gameplay footage and let you edit and broadcast that footage online without hampering the game experience. This is pretty revolutionary, and not something that can be done without spending $100-200 on a capture card to record your gameplay. You can literally share any cool moment with the world, and I absolutely hope this rumor is true and it could be one of those features that gives the system an edge over the next Xbox.
Here are the Specs that I found while looking at an article from Kotaku.
- System Memory: 8GB
- Video Memory: 2.2 GB
- CPU: 4x Dual-Core AMD64 "Bulldozer" (so, 8x cores)
- GPU: AMD R10xx
- Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
- Drive: Blu-Ray
- HDD: 160GB
- Audio Output: HDMI & Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels
The system looks impressive, and from what experts are saying the type of RAM used in the new PlayStation may give it the edge power-wise against the "Durango." Although, the PlayStation 3 does have technological advances over the Xbox 360, and the 360 still has the better market share. So, power isn't everything and it's going to come down to the software as well as what features each company offers up.
We Still Have Moves
The rumors are stating that those fancy Move controllers that you bought will still be compatible with the "Orbis" system. They will also be bringing out a new and improved PlayStation EYE to go along with it. This makes sense as the PlayStation EYE is currently running off some old technology, and a new version of that could put it more on par with the Kinect as far as camera functionality so that's not really a surprise. The fact that you could use the same Move controllers also makes me happy as I paid good money for the Move stuff and will gladly use it on a new system. While there haven't been enough breakout hits for the Move or the Kinect, I think both have a lot of potential to bring us something new and inventive.
I do have to say there is a pretty clear winner when it comes to the Next Gen consoles coming out this year and it's the consumer. There is also one pretty clear loser if all of these rumors end up true and that is GameStop. The new consoles without used games will totally crush their business model. However, this year is looking to be exciting with the prospect of new consoles, new technology, and with those come a slew of new games. Usually new IPs tend to start on a new console generation, and I expect this one to be no different in that regard. I think that both consoles will be great additions to the marketplace and our living rooms. I just really hope I can revisit some of my used games down the line, and that those rumors are just that. We will soon find out what is going on with the "Orbis" as Sony is set to announce some big things some February 20. So, let the next generation of console wars begin!