The next Xbox console is getting closer, but is it going to be called the Xbox 720? Will it have a disc drive? Will you have to sell a kidney to buy one?
As of April 2013, here’s all the latest information currently available about the upcoming games console from Microsoft, as well as when it’s likely to arrive in the UK.
The question on everyone’s lips is – when is the next Xbox coming out? We'll get the official Xbox 720 unveil on 21 May, as confirmed by an invite sent out to journalists in the States.
However, exactly what we'll learn there is up to Microsoft. The Sony PS4 launch event in February 2013 didn't really tell us all much.
It is believed that the May launch will be a fairly cursory affair, leaving further juicy reveals for the E3 games conference - where we'll also learn more about the PS4.
E3 2013 is held between 11 and 13 June, in Los Angeles. Put it in the diary.
The actual release date is far murkier, although the console is expected to land this year. This could change, however.
An analyst report suggests that the Xbox 720 will arrive at a price competitive with the already-available Wii U. That means a price of around $400, which equates to £250 this side of the pond. However, once you've factored-in the the extra we tend to pay for electronics in the UK, you're looking at an outlay of around £300-350 for a launch Xbox 720.
It's probable that the Xbox 720 will launch with multiple SKUs, with "premium" editions offering additional storage. We see this in the launch line-up of the first "next generation" console, the Wii U. It comes as a vanilla 8GB version and a Premium 32GB package, costing £240 and £300 respectively.
Although the “Xbox 720” has become the name attached to just about any rumour or piece of speculation about the next Microsoft games console, it’s far from confirmed. Other possible names include simply Xbox, Xbox Infinity and Xbox Loop. They’re all a bit rubbish, aren’t they?
The reported internal codename for the console is Durango, although this is only really intended to be used be Microsoft employees, devs and other such folk. You won’t see it splashed across the shelves of GAME (assuming the retailer exists in late 2013).
The most important factor in the Xbox 720 is that we believe the console will use an x86 CPU. This is the system architecture used in PCs - and the PS4. This will make porting games across platforms easier than ever before.
UPDATE JAN 2013: The specs of the Xbox 720 have been leaked. The next-generation console will feature the same 8-core processor as the Sony PS4 according to vgleaks. However, it has 8GB of core RAM, where the PS4 reportedly has 4GB.
It's not a resounding victory for the Xbox 720, though. The Sony PS4 has at the very least a more powerful sounding GPU. The Xbox 720 GPU will have 12 cores, the PS4's 18. However, now that chipset cores are becoming so 'plentiful', the number of cores is not a definitive indicator of power. We'll have to wait for benchmarks to surface to find out which really has the greater grunt.In late 2012, a hacker claimed to have uncovered what the Xbox 720 processor is – in part at least. He wrote that the Durango dev kit has a 1.6GHz processor, comparing it to the chip of the Wii U – criticised by some for not being all that powerful.
However, this is by no means a conclusive indictment of the Xbox 720’s processor, though. It doesn’t go into the system architecture, or the GPU’s abilities. A while back, in January 2012, IGN wrote that the console would use a customised version of the ATI Radeon 6670 GPU.
PC gaming nuts wouldn’t put a card this lowly into their gaming rigs – it only costs around £50 these days – but within the efficient walls of a console system, it could produce reasonably impressive results. IGN’s source claimed that the Xbox 720 would offer “six times” the power of the Xbox 360.
Until mid-2012, there was plenty of chatter suggesting that the Xbox 720 and PS4 would not feature disc drives, that they would be “download-only” consoles. However, these reports have largely died away. You’ll still be able to buy games on shiny discs – most likely Blu-ray discs, as the Xbox 720 is reported to feature a Blu-ray drive.
It'll also have a fixed hard drive, according to reports. This is a change in style, as the Xbox 360 used a modular design that made swapping out the HDD for a larger model fairly simple.
A familiar roster of top-tier game developers are likely to produce games for the console too. Angry Birds and co. haven’t quite killed off the traditional home console yet. EA’s Frank Gibeau described the next generation PlayStation and Xbox consoles as “spectacular”, while Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot complained about the lack of a new crop of consoles in 2012. The devs are keen.
Ubisoft has already announced one of its first Xbox 720 games. Codenamed Mango, it has a budget of around 11.5 million pounds.
Among the more exciting innovations of the next Xbox is Kinect 2.0. This is a much more accurate and dynamic version of the motion gaming accessory you can buy today. It’ll be able to recognise and track movements with much greater fidelity, although the exact scope of its powers isn’t yet known.
Kinect 2.0 is more than just that though. Project Fortaleza is reportedly a Microsoft endeavour working on a pair of augmented reality glasses that’ll work with the new version of Kinect and an Xbox 720. They’ll communicate with the console over Wi-Fi or, according to rumour, 4G.
What else do you want to know about the Xbox 720? Let us know and we’ll see if we can add it in the next update.