Whilst the current Xbox 360 console is largely regarded to be just hitting its prime, impatient gamers are calling out for its replacement. Although Microsoft has continously stated the Xbox 360 still has a few good years left in it, a series of leaked documents and gossip say otherwise.
Although some of the Xbox 720 rumours doing the rounds are a little more speculative than others, as the Xbox 360 enters its seventh year of life, the eagerly awaited next-generation console edges ever closer to reality with a flurry of reports suggesting we could see the Xbox 720 formally unveiled next year.
When is the Xbox 720 out?
According to a leaked Microsoft document, the Xbox 720 will land some time in 2013, quashing rumours that the much-mooted device would land at the end of this year.
The 2010-dated document, which refers to the console as the ‘Xbox 720′, also revealed that the software giant was planning on allocating it a price tag of about £190, which is surprisingly good value for what will be one of the most anticipated consoles of the year.
Although the report was confirmed as genuine by Microsoft, the software giant has repeatedly made reference to the console’s ’10 year lifecycle’, seemingly quelling reports of a pre-2015 arrival.
Update: A report carried by Digital Foundry claims that a series of leaked images of an Xbox 720 dev kit, have been authenticated by developers. The image (below) reportedly show the new Microsoft Xbox 720 Durango dev kit, and were posted on the Assembler Games developer forum as a sale item. Digital Foundry claims unnamed industry sources working on games for next-gen consoles have verified that the images of the Durango Devkit are authentic.
The source told Digital Foundry that the machine is an Alpha version of Xbox 720 hardware and was delivered to the studios this February. The devkit is housed in standard PC casing and Digital Foundry points out that it features Intel CPUs and a graphics card running DirectX 11 that carries NVIDIA branding.
Xbox 720 specs
Whilst all the rumoured Xbox 720 specs are, well, speculative, the latest innards tipped to feature within the Nintendo Wii U rival paint a fanciful picture of impressive abilities with some reports suggesting the console will be as much as ten times more powerful than its predecessor.
There has been some speculation however that Xbox will instead opt for a hardware system that is already a year old, something that worries Epic Games VP Mark Rein who admitted this week that if the Xbox 720 wasn’t ‘bleeding edge’ then Apple would surely dominate the market.
“The console gaming experience is about delivering something that’s way out past the bleeding edge and subsidising it through the software royalty model – just like Apple does with the phones. It’s not that much different. The next-generation will be here soon, a couple of years,”
John Carmack, the man behind Doom and Quake, of the Xbox 720 said:
“It’ll be another ten times as powerful as this generation. I’d be surprised if that doesn’t last over a decade before people wind up saying, well, we’ve really tapped out everything you could possibly do on there.”
Carmack’s comments were backed up by Gadget site Fudzilla which claimed to have more concrete details on the heavily revamped processing abilities of the Xbox 720. It stated:
“If speculation is correct, which our sources believe it is, the power behind the next Xbox will be a PowerPC CPU that is married to an ATI Southern Islands GPU, or modified 7000 series.”
Building on recent reports new rumours have suggested the future-generation console will indeed feature its own Blu-ray player as well as a pair of graphics processing units and always on internet.
Will there be a Kinect 2?
More than a simple gamer, the Xbox 720 is said to be heading to release alongside the second-generation iteration of Microsoft’s industry leading controller-free motion gaming peripheral with some reports going as far as to suggest the Xbox 720 will launch with the Kinect 2 built in.
CVG’s Andy Robinson said:
“A lot depends on whether or not Microsoft decides to bundle a ‘Kinect 2’ with the next Xbox, and if it will sport sufficient built in components or be powered by the Xbox 720 hardware itself”
Tipped as being powerful enough to read users’ lips the second-generation Kinect add-on will also host the ability to sense when gamers are angry and calculate in which direction they are facing.
Building on the current popular but heavily limited platform the touted Kinect 2 is said to offer increased user interaction and data transfer speeds with the now somewhat aging USB connection to be replaced by a faster means of teathering. An improved sensor and heightened voice recognition will ensure the Kinect follow-up allows for more detailed and core gaming experiences.
What will the Xbox 720 controller look like?
Further mooted to be following Nintendo down the alley of motion gaming, some reports have suggested Microsoft will squeeze a touchscreen within its future console’s controller offering much of the same user input features as the previously unveiled Wii U.
The screen heavy Xbox 720 rumour, which landed courtesy of a report in Xbox World Magazine, offered a tantalising insight into the next-gen console with the touted display packing controller to offer improved input options for the “media hub” console.
As well as outing the new controller, the Xbox World report has claimed the eagerly awaited Xbox 720:
“will be a matt-black media hub with a mission to bring games to life in your living room with augmented reality, directional sound, and a four-player, finger-tracking Kinect.”
On the potential tablet styled controller, the report added the input device will boast a “HD screen surrounded by the traditional 360 buttons and sticks.
“That touchcreen will be second only to Kinect in how you operate your console. It could be a remote control when you’re watching TV, a browser when you’re on the internet, extra buttons and information when you’re playing a game or a portable display when you want to take your game with you.”
Revealed via micro blogging site Twitter, industry blog Kotaku reported that Technical Designer at the Crysis developer studio Sean Tracy outed the future Xbox device as falling under the codename of ‘Durango’.
The reports, which came out of the claimed Xbox 720, or Durango developer conference, following similar mutterings just weeks previously that had suggested the upcoming hardware release was being referred to by those in the know at the Durango project.
What games will be available on the Xbox 720?
Whilst precise titles have yet to be announced for the next-generation Microsoft console, a number of games publishers and developers have started advertising for positions to develop games for the Xbox 360 follow on.
Requesting applicants with “extensive experience with PS3 and 360 development,” the latest Bethesda job listing has offered a tantalising insight into the upcoming arrival of a next-generation console but failed to offer firm details as to whether it will be Sony or Microsoft to next update their aging gamers.
The official listing added:
“Bethesda Game Studios is looking for experienced programmers to work on cutting-edge technology for an unannounced game on future-generation consoles,”
Rumoured to already be working on a new Timesplitters release that is destined for launch on the Xbox 720, Crytek has spoken out to deny rumours that it has already been granted access to the gaming industry’s most eagerly awaited hardware release.
A spokesperson for Crytek announced:
“Crytek do not have any next generation hardware from Microsoft, nor do we know when Microsoft may announce future hardware or what that hardware will entail,”
Keen to reaffirm it had no access to the Xbox 720 the games company added: “Crytek are working at pushing the boundaries of what current technology can bring.”
Xbox 720 Pre-owned Games Lock
With Xbox 720 games already reportedly in the works Kotaku has cited a “reliable industry source” in claiming that Microsoft will implement new features preventing gamers picking up cheap second-hand copies of the latest core titles potentially spelling an end to the pre-owned games market.
Whilst it is unclear exactly how Microsoft would implement such a move the mooted experience hampering feature would cause a rift between developers and publishers who would relish the possibility of increased revenues and retailers and end users, both of whom would be on the negative end of such a deal.
Unless Sony followed a similar route with its own next-generation console, the long mooted Sony PS4, Microsoft’s touted move of preventing the use of second-hand games could spell the end of the Xbox brand.
What would you like to see Microsoft incorporate within its next-generation, Xbox 360 replacing, Xbox 730 console release? Let us know via the T3 Twitter and Facebook feeds or in our comments section below.
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