Here we are at the top layer of the ice cream sandwich. We have talked about both Nintendo and Sony, talking about the differences between both of those systems, and we have arrived at the most complicated topic of them all: Microsoft.
Unlike Nintendo or Sony, Microsoft has left us in a literal dust cloud. We don’t know anything official about the system, but come the 21st of May, we will finally have details set in stone. We do have a ton of rumors, and Microsoft is a company that doesn’t make comments on rumors or speculation. If anything, Microsoft holds a very strict policy when it comes to public relations, and company secrets. We can use Adam Orth as an example. Adam was a man fired for causing mass hysteria with his infamous war cry of “deal with it” after he stated that the next Xbox would be online-only. The man had to be fired. He caused a lot of fans to become up in arms about the situation, and they became clear about their intentions to jump on Sony’s next console.
Since last year there has been a lot of these rumors and speculation. We have gathered a lot of rumors and speculation about the next generation system. Since Microsoft has yet to make anything official, these are all just rumors and speculation. We don’t have any hard evidence of anything otherwise. For these reasons alone, it makes this particular article the most difficult to explain. So let’s get started.
“Always online,” the two words that shook the very foundation of millions of gamers worldwide. Always online has proved to be an infrastructure that just doesn’t work. After the SimCity and Diablo 3 snafu, we should know that games can’t always be online, especially when games don’t rely on multi-player components. When we purchase a game, we expect it to work. Countless times we have purchased a game legally on our end, and the game couldn’t work because of the problem on the developers end. Until developers are able to actually provide a stable service, the world will not be ready to accept this condition. That being said, a memo within Microsoft that “leaked” happen to state that the system will not be an “always online” system. Once again, a rumor, but one that wouldn’t hurt if Microsoft actually came out and said it out loud.
Now that we got the biggest issue out of the way, we can talk about the hardware. Microsoft is supposedly going to use an x86 processor for their chipset, 8 gigs of DDR3 memory, and a Blu-ray drive. Microsoft is a company that believes in compatibility. So if someone plays a game like Destiny on the Playstation 4, there might be a slight possibility that we can also play it on our next Xbox and interact with the PS4 users. This idea of having universal hardware only makes gaming as a whole, a bigger and better world.
With this type of processor, we will be able to experience pure multi-tasking. We can download games while playing other games. Or go from one program to the next, without having to close out the program entirely. This could also provide us with the ability to download and play games at the same time. This technology can be seen with the latest software Microsoft released with their Office platform. While the program itself is downloading, you are still able to use the program, streaming it seamlessly. We could also use other Microsoft brand programs like playing custom playlists through Xbox Music instead of having to download disks to the system, or stream over a home network.
Other rumors have stated that the system will provide two HDMI ports. This rumor lets us believe that we can use the next Xbox as a set top box. See, you can send a cable from your cable box to the Xbox, then up to your television. Remember when we only had VCRs that could be connected through coax cable? It would be like that. This would allow your Xbox system to act like a universal system that can link together all of your media and act as a DVR for the shows you actually enjoy.
A next generation system also calls for a next generation format for Microsoft. Reports state that Microsoft will put a Blu-ray player in their next system, catching up to what Sony is currently using. We know Blu-Ray disks hold a ton more information than the dual layer DVDs that the Xbox 360 uses. This technology will be able to deliver some of the best content we can get. Imagine when we get a Gears of War collection all on a single disk? Halo? Yes, with this technology, this can be very possible.
The actual online portion of the system seems to be rather interesting, to say the very least. As I have previously stated, social networking is going to take a predominant role in the future of gaming. We can experience sharing gameplay videos over the newest Xbox Live iteration that will be introduced to us. We will also experience an unlimited friend’s list. Instead we can “follow” each other, very similar to Twitter, Tumblr, and other popular social networks.
With all of these new changes, it wouldn’t be strange to ask questions. What about backwards compatibility? With the new hardware, it’s going to be hard to actually emulate current generation games on the new system. This is something that even Sony cannot control on their system. Although, we also don’t know if this will also affect the Xbox Live Arcade games. Will we still be able to access these games on the next generation?
It almost seems as if backwards compatibility may be a thing of the past. Apparently, Microsoft is temporarily future-proofing the current generation of games. With a lot of titles being released on multiple platforms, Microsoft will be planning to release an adapter that gives the Xbox 360 dual HDMI ports. Microsoft also plans on bringing some titles over to the 360. We can see games like Destiny, Watch_Dogs, and Diablo 3 hitting both consoles giving people the opportunity to experience these games without having to be an early adapter to the next system. Although, who doesn’t want to do that?
Microsoft has the opportunity to really deliver on their next console. There is a lot of hype about this system, and right now all the eyes of the world are looking at Microsoft. Will we experience another golden age of gaming? Will our trust in Microsoft continue? We’ll have to wait and see.