Thursday, April 25, 2013

NeXtBox Reveal Scheduled for May 21st

There's no uncertain terms used here, no rumor, no speculation about it - this is direct from the source.  The reveal for the NeXtBox is the 21st, 19 days before their E3 conference.  So, if nothing else, now we actually have confirmation that there is a NeXtBox that is happening.  Even though it was obvious that there was and all that, nothing's true until it's confirmed, etc. etc. all that stuff.
On Tuesday May 21st, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment. On that day, we’ll be holding a special press event on the Xbox campus and we invite you to join us via the live global stream that will be available on Xbox LIVE and If you are in the US or Canada, you can also watch the broadcast on Spike TV.

On that day, we’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future. Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games.

We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on.
Should you want to tune in to see just what in the hell about the machine is actually going to get confirmed and what isn't, your options are pretty simple:, XBox Live and Spike TV for USA and Canada - the former because it's obvious and the latter because Spike is always doing gaming-centric things like this without relying on it.  You like, like G4 did.  You remember G4, right?  No?  Well...that's about what I've got on that part...Moving on then.

The current standing on the rumor mill seems to be as thus:

  • The Console will be Always Online meaning if you have no internet, you have no games.  Another, new-ish rumor states it as "must be Internet-Connected to use", yet tries to differentiate from "Always Online" which suggests perhaps a check-in thing at starting a game, similar to Steam.  Still, no internet means you can't start a game in that case, so it's not much better if true.
  • There's possibly an "XBox Mini" component to the NeXtBox that will allow Backwards a very complicated way.  Though a digital-only box (if stand-alone), it can connect to your NeXtBox to allow you to play your 360 titles (Digital and Disk-based, using the NeXtBox Disk drive, but the box's hardware) on your NeXtBox instead of just on the 360 itself.  Think Sega.  The newer rumor dictates that this unit was designated "Yuma" and is indefinitely delayed.
  • As per those conflicting rumors, Backwards Compatibility is up in the air leaning towards "No, not going to happen".
  • Windows 8 Base (ugh)
  • Two models, two pricetags - a Stand-alone unit for $499 and a Model where you're locked into Live for 2 years (at $10/month) at $299 (So, end price $548)
  • Every model ships with a Kinect 2.0 that will be integrated into the console from the get-go, meaning it might start being 'required' by games
  • 2013 Holiday launch
  • The technical specs will be roughly around the PS4's, though possibly with less RAM and/or lesser quality RAM
First off, no way are we getting a price or a proper release window on the 21st, so let's just not worry about that right now.  Those will be E3 announcements and if they're not, then they're going into E3 with a lot of steam built-up already, or a lot of ire that the actual conference will become secondary to end-capping the price, whatever it ends up being. The XBox Mini rumor is so goddamn convoluted that I didn't care to write about it when it came out and I almost left it out here, but since it's in the new-ish rumor page about the Internet-Connected bit, it was officially 'enough' for me to mention it.  That rumor also negates it, so it's probably not happening, but it possibly could still, I guess.  I hope not because it sounds like a lot more trouble than it's worth since it's not going to be something you can just plug into the NeXtBox and work off that power, so it'll be two draws and goddamnit, just buy a 360.  The NeXtBox likely cannot upscale Halo 4 enough that it's worth the hassle.

Backwards Compatibility is likely a no-go, which is sort of a bigger issue for the NeXtBox than it is the PS4, though it's still a very big issue for the PS4 as well.  For a while, XBox Live Arcade was the place to be if you were a digital-focused developer, and with as many promotions and all the weight that XBLA built up because of that focus, there is just a higher-probability that you have digital games on a 360 than a PS3.  And that you're much more attached to those because of some of the ones that have remained exclusive, or the ones that you have unfinished cheevos with or what have you.  Basically, there was always talk about how XBLA was a 'bigger deal' than PSN and now, for better or worse, that school of thought is going to bite back if it's true.  And if the structure of the NeXtBox is so radically different (and in-line with what the PS4 is, more or less) then yeah, it's hard to imagine XBLA/360 games will emulate on it natively.  I'm hopeful, but I was hopeful for the PS4 as well.

The price thing, even though it won't be touched on, is what really riles me up more than anything at this point, however.  I absolutely cannot fucking stand the 'subscription-subsidized' pricing model and I wish it would fucking die.  Yes, I realize that it's the 'right thing' for a lot of people because it's easier to scrape together X amount of money at any one given time than Y amount and sometimes 'just save up' isn't viable because money just kind of goes places.  I understand this.  Here's the rub though:  nobody fucking cares.  This isn't the reason why this sort of thing exists, it's not something to help folks get in by letting them pay less up-front.  It's about making more in the end and it's about marketing.  The $99 dollar 360 exists solely so Microsoft can get away with saying "The XBox 360 is only $99" because it's technically true since you're only paying $99 initially for the box.  But you're not leaving said store with only $99 gone from your account (not accounting from tax) and it's a shit-head practice because of that.  That it's going to continue into next gen (and it is, I have no doubt about that) bothers the shit out of me for fear that it will begin to edge out proper purchasing methods.

Anyway, the stuff that isn't the release window and price will likely get talked about in so many ways on the 21st and, for better or worse, we'll finally have a sort of PS4/NeXtBox comparison readily available.  We'll finally be able to see those two, plus the Wii U and really know what's going to be up with the next five or so years in gaming.  It's....actually almost a little much to think about.  It's a  lot to worry about as well, since even if you're not planning on buying a NeXtBox (Which a lot of people honestly aren't, thanks to the Always Online concerns) it will be a big deal, and it will have some sort of impact on the gaming ecosystem in some form.  There will be people who will say that it does and will affect it in a bad way, and it's just up in the air for now as to how many will say it and how 'right' they actually are about that.

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