The day of reckoning is right on our doorstep, Voxelites! Tomorrow, Microsoft will unveil their new Xbox, and so we, the authors at VoxelArcade, thought that we might make a few predictions of our very own on this eagerly-awaited console.
That is if Simon can find his old crystal ball.
I believe that Microsoft haven’t yet given-up on the existing Kinect hardware. It’s rumoured that the device has the potential to take its technology a step further, so one of my key predictions is that the Kinect will be getting some kind of firmware update, in preparation for the new Xbox.
The new Xbox will use Bluray discs, or some kind of new alternative, so no longer will we need obey the dreaded ‘please insert disc 2’ message. Win. Microsoft will also finally get rid of the removable batteries of old and the controllers will all be chargeable just like the Playstation 3 and 4. About time.
Oh, and you will not have to pay to play online anymore – although there will be a subscription based system like Playstation 3.
And it will all fit in my new car. Oh yes. It shall be so.
Sam wants this. Right. Now.
I hope Microsoft will have learned their lessons and will make Kinect 2.0 (or whatever it is called) a nice extra, not the focus of the presentation.
Given the rumours of a two-tier price-point, I think Microsoft will remain pay to play online. However, I think they may introduce a cheaper ‘gaming’ subscription, alongside an improved Gold, which incorporates some of the good features Sony have been doing with PS+.
I would expect to see Microsoft set a price point below that of Playstation4, although that probably won’t be revealed just yet. Given that rumours suggest the PS4 will be slightly more powerful, it makes sense, as I believe that at equal spec and price most people would choose Sony over Microsoft.
There are rumours that Microsoft may have paid tens of millions of dollars for some kind of Call of Duty exclusivity. This will likely be either exclusive download content or timed exclusivity. This would be a very sensible deal from a business perspective, as a lot of people make their choice between Sony or Microsoft based on which system their friends are playing online. If Call of Duty: Ghosts builds up a strong initial following on the new Xbox, it will really help push future buyers towards Microsoft’s new system.
Personally, I’m not ruling out a specification above and beyond what people are already expecting. Sony’s announcement of an impressive 8GB of fast GDDR5 memory might just push Microsoft into upgrading a couple of components. After all, the ability to say “the most powerful console ever made” with two similarly priced machines would be an important selling point. Especially if there are games that can prove it.
But, hang-on: haven’t I said all of this before, chaps?!
Please, please, please, please, please …
There have been a good many leaks to suggest that the next Xbox isn’t something that will appeal to me. The overriding business philosophy seems to be typical Microsoft bluster: lock them in and squeeze them for all they’re worth. Their apparent obsession with subscriptions, multimedia content, the broader Microsoft brand, the second-hand market, a narrow range of ageing IP and Kinect leave me feeling incredibly cold and cynical despite being a huge fan of the original machine and the 360 for much of its lifecycle.
This is a company running scared in the world of PCs as they stand-by and watch hardware sales plummet across the board – alongside their disappointing sales of Windows 8. Neither have they found a comfortable niche in either of the highly lucrative markets of tablets or smartphones. In short: Xbox is, I would wager, increasingly seen by its creators as somewhat a lonely cash-cow.
My predictions, then, are not ones filled with much promise and hope – especially so in-light of the near perfect series of PS4 announcements that Sony have made ranging from hardware to peripherals and even indie-developer agreements. In the battle for hearts and minds, Microsoft are at the bottom of the hill with Sony within reach of the summit.
That said, there has been one announcement that could completely change my feelings on the matter: Illumiroom
A die-hard proponent of Philips’ wondrous Ambilight technology; the concept of Illumiroom has pricked my ears more so than any other hardware announcement in recent years – even Oculus Rift. I can hand-on-heart attest to the level of immersion that the relatively simplistic Ambilight system delivers, so the prospect of the entire lounge being filled with infinitely more complex and adaptive content is extremely exciting to say the least.
This, as they like to say in America, is a real game-changer.
I’m doubtful that Illumiroom (if it does make it to market) will launch with the next Xbox, but when it does, I’ll be in like a shot – leaving my haughty principles well and truly at the door.
Colour me fickle.
It’ll be like this. But with steroids.
I’m worried. Microsoft have turned what was initially the hardest of the hardcore game consoles into a multimedia box plastered in ads, with a useless camera masquerading as an input device.
This is the company that not only charges for online play, but has the unbelievable audacity to still smother the dashboards of paying subscribers with the same ads free users have to suffer.
I always wonder how they justify the charge. I remember, as a paying Gold user, being horrified that Arcade games I had purchased were no longer available, as Microsoft claimed it was costing too much to run the multiplayers servers. What the fuck do I pay Gold for then?
Kinect is useless, and utterly without merit, so the thought of Microsoft building a console around the thing sends shivers down my spine. The Microsoft of Gears of War, Halo and Xbox Live was only ever a front for getting a branded box into gamer’s front rooms, where they could get a foothold that the PC never could. After all, who wants a free, open platform like the PC in living rooms? Microsoft want control, and they are determined to get it, and I am going to bet that this next console will be a trump card.
Of course, they will not show that at the conference, where I am willing to bet that they will lay-off the multimedia stuff a little, as I think that even they realise that a lot of gamers are just starting to get wise to them.
My prediction is a few stunning exclusives, some of which I am aware of, but cannot share yet, as well as a couple of genuine surprises. The graphics will be impressive, but not the leap that many may be hoping for.
They will still charge for online play. They may sweeten the deal a little bit, but they will continue to charge for something that everyone else offers for free.
Simon made me promise to not use this picture of him. But he forgot to do pinkie-promise.
That’s your lot, Voxelites! Let’s see what the morning brings – apart from a P45 for Sam, that is!