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Xbox Infinity: Everything (We Think) We Know About Microsoft's Next-Gen Console [Updated... Again]

Posted on Monday, May 20 @ 18:00:00 Eastern by Alex_Osborn

The third generation of Xbox hardware will be revealed on May 21st, and we here at GameRevolution can't wait to find out what Microsoft has planned. In an effort to gear up for the event, we've taken the time to compile everything we think we might know about the next-gen gaming box. Please bear in mind that the content to follow is all merely based on rumor and reports from alleged inside sources. Official confirmation (or at least we hope!) will come next month.
 

Always Online?

[Update] A supposed internal memo at Microsoft squashed the always-on rumor, saying "[t]here are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes, playing a single-player game."

[Original] So we've heard a whole lot on both sides of the fence regarding an always-online requirement for the next Xbox, but which side is true? The most up-to-date report comes from tech blogger Paul Thurrott who claims that, yes, the device will require an internet connection, but isn't quite extreme and terrible as many are fearing. "The next Xbox must be Internet-connected to use. This is the source of the ‘always on’/’always online’ rumors and isn’t as Draconian as many seem to believe.”

So what exactly does this all mean? Will players have to be connected at all times to utilize the device? I'd suspect that the bulk of Microsoft's content will be so ingrained in Xbox Live that not having an internet connection would severely limit the capabilities of the device, but I can't imagine them blocking players from simply playing a game offline should they be unplugged from the internet.

Assessment: Probably not. At least, not as strict as everyone fears.


Price?

[Update] Paul Thurrott, the man initially behind the subsidized model rumors, has stated that Microsoft has apparently scrapped the idea. As such, there's a good chance we won't see a box under $399. Heck, we'll be lucky if we see any next-gen hardware in the $400 ballpark.

[Original] According to our Thurrott, there will be two different pricing options: a $299 version with a two-year subscription requirement to Xbox Live Gold (for $10 per month) or a $499 option with no strings attached. Considering that Microsoft has been testing the subsidized model with the Xbox 360, this pricing scheme sounds incredibly likely. Doing this would not only give the appearance that Microsoft's box is in the same arena as the Wii U, but it will also (most likely) provide the lowest initial price of entry into the next-gen market. As such, I'd say this is probably going to be Microsoft's plan.

Assessment: $299 subsidized option apparently scrapped. Probably somewhere in the $399-499 range.


Release Date?

Right now, all signs point to a November launch. Microsoft would be foolish to release much later than Sony or miss the holiday rush, so there isn't too much room for debate or speculation here. Plus, Mr. Thurrott (yes, again) claims that the "next Xbox will launch in early November 2013," so who are we to argue? After all, he was right about the May 21st reveal.

Assessment: Likely November 2013.




Backwards Compatibility?
 


While a handful of rumors have suggested that Microsoft's next-gen console won't be backwards-compatible, a massive info dump from an unnamed source recently suggested just the opposite. According to the report, the next Xbox will come with an Xbox 360 system on chip (SOC), which will allow you to play all your current-gen Xbox games.

This certainly sounds plausible to me, especially when considering the massive library of Xbox 360 games both digital and retail gamers have undoubtedly amassed over the years. It'd also be one more thing that Microsoft could hold over Sony since the PlayStation 4 likely won't support PS3 content in any way, shape, or form.

Assessment: Probably, thanks to an Xbox 360 SOC.


Windows 8?

It's no secret that Microsoft is trying to spread Windows 8 across all of their devices, so it has basically been assumed at this point that we'll see the company's OS incorporated into the Xbox 720. Our buddy Thurrott supports these assumptions: "[T]he next Xbox is based on the "Core" (base) version of Windows 8. This suggests a common apps platform or at least one that is similar to that used by Windows 8."

As I mentioned just a second ago, we're all expecting it, and with no reason to believe otherwise, I'd say that its inclusion is all but confirmed at this point.

Assessment: Most likely built around Microsoft's OS.


Multiple SKUs?

Aside from the rumored Apple TV equivalent (which Thurrott has now said that Microsoft has put on hold indefinitely), we have not heard anything about the possibility of multiple SKUs akin to what the company did with the Xbox 360. That, however, doesn't mean they won't offer a couple of different models that have different sized hard drives. At this point, we don't have too much to go on, so as far as we're concerned, the subsidized payment option will be the only differentiating factor.

Assessment: No Apple TV-esque box... yet. 

 
Kinect 2.0?

[Update] A Microsoft employee posted a particularly intriguing image on Twitter (see it here) that could very well be Kinect-related. Aside from wild guesses and a few rumors, that's all we've got to go on. 

[Original] We know it's coming, and not only that, but word has it that a new Kinect will be required to operate the machine. At this point it's safe to say that every console will come bundled with a new version of the device, which will almost certainly boast better voice recognition capabilities as well as improved tracking. Since Microsoft is positioning this new box as the ultimate entertainment hub device, expect its uses to go far beyond gaming. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Kinect 2.0 will primarily be used for non-gaming entertainment.

Assessment: New and improved device will likely come bundled in every box.

Blu-ray?

[Update] An alleged internal memo at Microsoft spoke to the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive, saying that the console's features include "playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes, playing a single-player game."

[Original] At this point, it would be foolish for Microsoft not do include a Blu-ray drive. Thurrott says that there will be one and we here at GameRevolution are inclined to agree. 'Nuff said.

Assessment: Almost certainly.

Super-Slim Xbox 360?

While yes, this isn't technically Xbox 720-related, it may serve as part of Microsoft's overall plan to keep its current-gen console alive alongside the dawn of a new generation. Thurrott is quite certain that one is in the works:
Microsoft will also deliver a third-generation Xbox 360 console this year that will be significantly less expensive than the current models. The new Xbox 360 is code-named “Stingray,” but it’s not clear whether this device is required because the next Xbox isn’t backward-compatible or because Microsoft simply wants a low-cost entertainment box alternative.
Since we've heard reports in support of backwards compatibility, I would imagine that this is simply a move on Microsoft's part to sell as many more Xbox 360s as they can by lowering the price with an even cheaper model of the hardware. Could they announce something like this at E3 or perhaps closer to the holiday season? It certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility.

Assessment: Super-slim Xbox 360 possibly coming 2013.


Name?


[Update] Sources have told the IBTimes that the name of Microsoft's new console will be called Xbox Infinity. Considering the name has been tossed around in the past and is heavily embedded within the Halo universe (you know, Microsoft's most prized first-party franchise), there's reason to believe this report is true.

[Original] As far as I'm concerned, there's really only one name that Microsoft can go with at this point: Xbox. Keep it simple, keep it clean. We don't have much to go on besides a bunch of ridiculous codenames (e.g. Durango) so it's really anyone's guess at this point. But the logical thing to do would be to call it the Xbox. Seriously, Microsoft, if there's one thing you want to copy from Apple, it's the simple and straightforward naming system they use. Brand it Xbox without a subtitle and call it a day.

Assessment: Probably Xbox Infinity.
Controller?

[Update] A new report claims that the next-gen console will have  “newly designed controllers that are said to be ‘flattened’ in appearance.” Aside from this slight alteration, there's no reason to fear that Microsoft has ditched the general form factor and button layout, as prior rumors have suggested that the game pad will be practically the same as what we currently use for the Xbox 360.

Assessment: Probably very similar to the Xbox 360's but "flatter." Whatever that means...



Games?


[Update] We already know that both Call of Duty: Ghosts and a new entry in the FIFA franchise will both be at the Xbox Reveal, but a teaser from McLaren Automotive also suggests that a new entry in the Forza franchise will make an appearance, too. Prior reports suggest the Crytek-developed Ryse will be headed to the platform as well, and I'm sure we'd all like a new Killer Instinct, but that doesn't mean it will necessarily happen, unfortunately.

Assessment: Definitely next-gen versions of the new Call of Duty and FIFA. Probably Forza 5 and Ryse.
 
That about rounds up all (we think) we know thus far. Be sure to check back here tomorrow on May 21st for all the news coming out of Microsoft's event.

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