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It seems weird that I’m writing a blog about someone else’s blog however this is probably due to the fact that, unlike veteran blogger Paul Thurrott, I’m not really in a position of knowledge like he is to be able to make these next-gen Xbox claims.
Thurrott recently wrote an article on his site regarding new information about the upcoming Xbox console.
So first of all Thurrott notes that there is not going to be an entertainment only model of the next Xbox. Apparently Microsoft were planning there to be two versions of the console, one that offers simple app and entertainment functionality but does not play games, and a full, more expensive version that does play games.
I don’t have much of an opinion on this to be honest. I originally though that an entertainment only Xbox was a pretty shit idea as it isn’t exactly the first device you’d think to go to if you wanted basic app features available to you on your TV. Smart TVs have that covered in a much more basic and simple form. Games consoles should stick to games.
Thurrott also confirms what everyone’s (*cough* except Adam Orth *cough*) dreading, that the next Xbox is always online. If you saw my article about the Adam Orth and the always connected Xbox controversy then you’ll know I’m not a fan of this. I don’t actually think anyone is.
I totally believe Thurrott when he says that it will always need an Internet connection to work and I actually said myself in one of my articles that it was obviously going to be always-on given the high amount of consistent rumours regarding it as well as Microsoft’s lack of information on the subject.
I’m really disappointed (although not surprised) that it doesn’t appear that Microsoft has listened to people when they say they don’t want an always online Xbox console. I’m positive this could be the biggest blow that the upcoming console could face and might even do more damage than the mighty MS expected. Oh well, whatever bad comes from this I honestly think Microsoft deserves.
Backwards compatibility is pretty important to a lot of gamers as it means you can either sell your current console to gain money to buy the new one while still being able to play your old games or simply reduce the room your consoles take up because you won’t need as many.
Unfortunately there were already tons of rumours suggesting the upcoming Xbox is not backwards compatible and Thurrott, while not confirming this 100% says he believes it will not offer this feature. However he also believes that Microsoft is going to release a third-generation Xbox 360 at a much cheaper price. This could be to simply offer people a cheap, easy way of still being able to play Xbox 360 games or it might be to extend the life of the console given it is still selling well. Either way I too do not personally think that the next Xbox will offer 360 game compatibility.
When it comes to price Thurrott says that there will be two pricing options for the console. One option will be $299 upfront while having to pay $10 a month for two years for Xbox Live. The other option is $499 with no strings attached (although you’ll still have to pay for Xbox Live yourself, which poses the question of whether or not this no strings attached option is really the best value here).
November is the suggested release date too.
There’s not much left to cover really and it’s not all that interesting so I’ll get it out the way quickly.
Thurrott says that the next Xbox will run on or be based off of the core Windows 8 (or maybe 8.1 by the time it is released) OS.
This isn’t that surprising as Microsoft has been trying to make all their products one with each other for a while and the Xbox 360 has always been a bit in-between; running off of its own unique system rather than an OS that is also recognised and used by other MS products.
Thurrott confirms that the next Xbox will also use Blu-ray.
As for the name of it, Thurrott reinforces the belief that it may simply be called ‘Xbox’. This, I’d just like to mention, is a pretty crap name.
OK so with all that info quickly out the way I’m not really sure where I stand regarding my opinion of it all.
Obviously you can tell I don’t like the whole always-on thing. We already discussed that. However there is little information here that actually did make me feel excited. In fact all of it made me feel more concerned regarding the future of the console series.
A lack of backwards compatibility bums me out, although it isn’t the biggest deal as I would be happy to keep my 360 myself. That said it’s always nice to have everything fit into one package.
Price wise it doesn’t seem as economically friendly as everyone originally thought (or is it only me who thought that it was going to be cheaper?). The two payment options seem fair, however I question how good value the $499 version is compared to the $299 one that comes with a compulsory payment plan of $10 a month for 2 years.
Working out the mathematics (assuming the price of XBL will remain the same) shows us that the $299 payment plan option will cost $539 overall at the end of the two years, while the $499 version will cost a whopping $619 overall if you include two years worth of Xbox Live costing $60 a year like it does now. This is not anywhere near as good value as the first option so either this information is wrong or MS has gone a bit weird with the pricing. Usually it is the payment plan options that cost more.
Running a basic version of Windows is something, as I said before, I expected. It’s not a big deal to me and to be honest I don’t think it will be full of loads more features. I think the actual cosmetic look and design of it will be the main difference as we’ll likely be saying goodbye to the dashboard or at least the dashboard how it is now.
The release date, which Thurrott suggests is early November, is also not that surprising and it likely means that popular games like Call Of Duty and FIFA will get both 360 and next-gen Xbox releases within a short period of each other, if not at the same time.
Overall I’m not that hyped for anything next-gen at the moment if I’m honest, although I am interested in what Microsoft will reveal in the Xbox event at the end of May. On the whole I’m probably more psyched for the PS4 is anything.
I think one of the top comments on the IGN article that covered the information that I did here summed it all up well. It read:
“Remember when console gaming used to be simple?”
Oh yeah, those were the days.
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