First Blood: Next Gen Console War Details
With the Wii U launching shortly, we can officially say that the next-gen is coming to a start. Some say that next-gen won't start until all the new platforms are out and some even say the Wii U is considered current gen. Which one is true? Which one is false? The answer is debatable, but what we do know is that both the PS4, also known as Orbis, and the Xbox 720, codenamed Durango, are on the way and sooner rather that later!
Previously, we explored what the Xbox 720 is. Now, let’s look at those facts and rumors in depth and confirm them ourselves.
What We Know
- In June, a rumor regarding “Xbox 720” features was covered.
- In August, news regarding a leak from the next-gen Kinect was covered.
- In October, news regarding “hand sensor” technology that Microsoft has been working on was covered.
- At the beginning of November, news regarding recently emerged PlayStation 4 developer kits was covered.
The Next Xbox
On November 16, 2012, the Xbox 360 will officially be seven years old. On average, the life span of a home console from its launch to its successor is five years. Though the console has been a major success for Microsoft, with Nintendo’s Wii U console launching in a week from now, fans are curious as to what they can expect from Microsoft. While on the subject, what is to be expected from Sony?
It comes as no surprise that Microsoft’s next home console is on the way. Besides a number of rumors that have been circulating across the net over the past year, it is quite clear that Microsoft is interested in introducing a successor, or at least another version of the Kinect device. The full-body motion-sensing peripheral has been a delightful success for the multinational corporation and they may believe that this sort of technology has more untapped potential to work with in the future. Microsoft has already claimed that they were working on “hand-sensor” technology, so it seems that they intended on narrowing down the sensing and detection aspects of motion controls. Whether or not this is a successor to the Kinect remains to be seen, but the real question is: Would the technology be a peripheral to Microsoft’s next-gen console, or would it actually be implemented into the console itself, at launch, as an internal feature?
Furthermore, what else can be expected from what most people are labeling the “Xbox 720”? Microsoft has been using DVDs as the Xbox 360’s form of storage media since its launch, while Sony’s PlayStation 3 has been using blu-ray discs (BDs), which have been proven capable of storing much more data than standard DVDs. There is speculation that Microsoft will be switching to BDs for the next generation, but is that enough? There are already video games developed for the PS3 that have claimed to have already taken up all 60 GB of space from a duel-layered blu-ray disc. If the next Xbox is taking a “next-gen leap”, more than 60 GB may be needed for certain games. Certainly, Sony should be aware of this if the “PlayStation 4” is going to be considerably more powerful. Speaking of PlayStation…
The Next PlayStation
Though the PlayStation 3 is only approaching its sixth birthday at the end of the week, Sony has gone a long time without any official reveal of a next-gen successor. Only this month were there reports regarding PS4 dev kits shipping to developers, and many claim that the big unveiling is set for next year’s E3. As of now, the device is being dubbed “Orbis” and is said to feature a blu-ray player, the same as a PS3. What else can be expected from the console itself? The information comes, apparently, from a private ‘disclosure meeting’ in which developers were given the details of the new console which is aiming for full 1080p games in 3D, at sixty frames-per-second; not 4K, as previous rumors have suggested. This comes as no surprise because current-generation consoles, such as the PS3 already feature all of this. However, not all games released for the system support full HD (1080p), 3D-compability or run at a constant 60 fps. However, for all of these features to become essential and required staples with every release is definitely an improvement. Open-world titles, such as Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, or The Elder Scrolls, consistently running at 60 fps would be especially impressive.
In addition, the console has “either 8GB or 16GB of RAM”* and will come with a 256GB hard drive as standard. 256GB may be suggested as a solid state drive, given that it’s not exactly commonplace to get a hard drive of that capacity. Back in 2006, the standard PS3 at launch came with a 60GB hard drive, which wasn’t even the smallest internal hard drive available throughout its entire life cycle. 256GB is a considerable amount for the PS4, but it all comes down to how much space the next-gen titles will take, and that all comes down to how much more immersive, more innovative and more technologically-impressive the PS4 is expected to be.
Furthermore, in a previous article, it was stated that certain developers/publishers such as EA were currently investing in next-gen technology. Most recently, according to a press released from Ubisoft just a few days ago, the company's financial report reflects a clear, active intention of developing games for next-generation platforms. The company's first quarter report for 2013 shows a 12% increase in expenses for the R&D department when looking at this past quarter versus the quarter last year, and their R&D investment expenditures show an increase of over $17.3 million in the year-to-year comparison. Based on all of this, it is clear that Ubisoft is currently working on next-generation gaming, besides developing games for the Wii U.
The company has made no official claims regarding their intentions of next-generation involvement, but like EA they do believe that the next-gen systems need to arrive soon. Ubisoft's Chief Executive Officer Yves Guillemot said the company expects to earn large returns on their long-term investments in the development of next-generation consoles.
“From a longer-term perspective, Wii U's progression and the arrival of the next generation of consoles, combined with the strong momentum in the Free-to-Play model for PC, mobile and tablet games, will enable us to capitalize on the investments we have made in recent years.”
“These developments will cement Ubisoft’s positioning as a creator of successful brands with a growing expertise in new online models and services,” Guillemot said.
Activision’s Take On It All
It seems that Ubisoft wasn’t the only one who had so much to say regarding the next-gen consoles. Most recently, Activision, the publisher behind behemoth Call of Duty, has implied that there’ll be just the one next-generation console released next year. If the Wii U is launching in a week from now, what console is publisher speaking of exactly?
During an investment conference call, CEO Bobby Kotick had something to say, regarding the subject matter: “We can’t really talk too much about next generation console plans, but I think it’s safe to say you have a Wii U coming out and there will be another new console coming and we expect that they’ll be very successful.”
“Another” new console coming? Not two new consoles? Many assume that both Sony and Microsoft would be showing off their new tech at next year’s E3, but even if this is the case, according to Kotick, only one new next-gen console may be releasing next year. His comment could’ve either been speculation or confirmation. Does Bobby Kotick know something that we don’t, or is he just guessing? Regardless, his words definitely give us some food for thought.
“We always evaluate all platforms with an eye towards being able to create the most compelling differentiated content,” he added. “And whether it’s Facebook as a platform or tablets or mobile devices platforms, once we think that we can put our best creative foot forward and we can deliver something that’s compelling and engaging and meaningfully different and really capitalize on the capabilities of a new platform, we’ll support it.” (Is it safe to assume that there will be more Call of Duty on the next-gen consoles?)
Putting It All Together
No doubt about it, the next-gen consoles are coming and it wouldn’t be surprising if more details start being revealed over the next twelve months. Nintendo has now drawn first blood. Every now and then, another developer is letting slip some info about this. In six months from now, E3 2013 will be taking place, and the next Xbox and/or PlayStation is expected to be unveiled at Microsoft and/or Sony’s press conferences. By next week, the Wii U will be available to the public and fans can be held over with it until the competition makes its appearance. It’s only a matter of time…
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