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The Xbox 720 rumor round-up

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Posted by: Alex Faciane

So in the wake of my last article about Nintendo’s next-gen console, here’s one tackling Microsoft’s successor to the mighty Xbox 360. It’s currently known as the Xbox 720 or the Xbox Loop, and there’s a veritable butt-load of rumors out there on the world wide web, so varied in likelihood, paranoia factor, and outright dishonesty, that it’s practically pointless to even START to think about them yet. However, if you’re some kind of spooky techno-weirdo that needs your next-gen whistle wet, and you really like the way I think, I’ve collected a list of ten eleven rumors and stirrings about the Xbox 720, which is pretty much all of them, and weighed in briefly with my thoughts on each one. Here goes!

The first Google Images result for “spooky techno-weirdo."

1. It’s set for a June 2013 release date:

There have been rumors placing the release firmly and resolutely in 2013, 2014, and 2015, all with equal amounts of anonymous industry-insider “evidence” to go with them. In my brain, I feel like the most likely time we’re going to see this thing is in late 2013. This will give Microsoft enough time to develop something that uses a chip that will still be relatively new at release, and remain viable graphic and performance-wise for several years after.

If they wait any later than 2013, they’ll have given the Wii U over a year to gain traction and establish a sizable install base as the only available console of it’s generation. That would be super crappy for them. BOOM! I SAY TRUE!

2. It’s gonna be shown at E3 2012:

Despite the fact that Microsoft has repeatedly denied this to be true, there is still a pretty large faction out there who believes we’ll be seeing this baby come June.

I think that if we do see something, it will be in the form of a brief teaser or sneaky hints. The Kinect will not have even been out for two years by the time E3 rolls around, and meagerly good games have only just started to be released for it. I imagine that Microsoft will give their motion sensing peripheral one more shot before throwing in the towel and flooring us with the big guns. BOOM! PROLLY MOSTLY FALSE, YO!

3. It will have Avatar-quality graphics and beast AI:

The most buzzed about chipsets said to be inside the new console are something called the Oban, previously reported on with more detailed specs here, or an older Radeon HD 6670 GPU, previously reported on here. Either way, this makes the 720 six times more powerful than the 360 AT LEAST, leading some industry peeps over at AMD, the rumored manufacturer of the chipset according to Techradar, to hint at Avatar-level graphics and AI so powerful that in a game like Grand Theft Auto or Elder Scrolls, each NPC could conceivably have their own unique personality.

Marcus Fenix on the Xbox 720

I could go either way on this one, because it’s just sort of a question of who I choose to believe. The chipsets described could certainly pull off some pretty impressive graphics and processing tricks, but like, I’m sure that the people quoting Avatar as their benchmark of quality are probably exaggerating, and sure each NPC could have its own personality, but who’s going to spend the dev time on something that ridonk? This one’s going down as a “WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT” in my book.

4. It will be a blu-ray player:

For some reason, the notion that the Wii U won’t have a blu-ray player is like, completely acceptable to me, but even trying to imagine the Xbox 720 without one is ludicrous, especially considering how high sales were this holiday season for blu-ray movies. Take it from me, there will ABSOLUTELY be an Xbox 720 that plays blu-ray discs. GOTTA BE TRUE, MY DUDES!

5. There will be two different versions of it:

This one also seems pretty likely to some degree, considering the way Microsoft is current selling the Xbox 360 in both 4GB and 250GB models, but the rumored differences between the two new console iterations are much more vast. The lower-end model would allegedly be totally casual gaming and Kinect-centric, while only the higher-end model would have a blu-ray player and hard drive.

This makes sense to me, as a total lack of hard drive and blu-ray player would probably drive the price of the cheaper model into Wii-esque territory, and the expensive, tricked-out model will more than satisfy the lustful cravings of the hardcore gamer. GIMME A T! GIMME A RUE!

The hardcore Xbox 720 gamer

6. It will not use physical media for games: (Cloud)

Will the Xbox 720 go all-Cloud a la iTunes? Save files are all on the Cloud already, right? Will the Xbox 720 eliminate physical media all together?

Well, with all this noise about the blu-ray player, and the fact that it’s possible there will be a blu-ray-less model in the works, I’m going to guess that instead of those goofy lower-priced purple cases, the casual games offered will all transition to downloadable titles, while the Gears of Wars and Skyrims of the world remain on discs, especially if they’re going to be enormous and look like Avatar. HALF TRUE!

7. It will be built around being a media center:

Rumors abound of the Xbox 720 having some sort of DVR feature built in, some even going to the extreme that the console itself will be some sort of augmented reality-capable television. While that seems a little nutso, it’s not hard to imagine a push by Microsoft towards being the one-stop media shop that corners every market.

An Xbox 720 owner getting everything they need at once

Why would they want you spend money on some other device, when they can take all of your money right from the Xbox? The TV is a dumb idea, but the notion is getting a TRUE AS ALL HELL.

8. It will have a touch-screen controller like the Wii U:

Last month, Xbox World Magazine reported that the Xbox 720 controller would be something similar in design to the PS Vita, sporting an HD touchscreen.

Right off the bat, this seems insane, but I think the likely truth behind it that while the 720 controller will be normal and screen-less, there may also be some sort of non-essential Wii U competitor that will also be available, a la the niche that Kinect and Move fill now in relation to the Wii. PRETTY TRUE, SWEET KIDS.

9. It will run some kind of Windows 8:

Lately, Microsoft has been taking some cues from Apple with regard to integrating a bunch of different devices that all run similar operating systems, so that tablets can talk to PC’s, and PC’s can talk to the Xbox, and the Xbox can talk to the tablet, etc. Over at Gamerant, they’ve decided that this could mean an Xbox that runs on some permutation of Windows 8.

An artist’s rendering of an Xbox 720 owner trying to use Windows 8 on it

I don’t really trust this one, because Windows pretty much ruins everything it touches, and the Xbox 360 is the only Microsoft device that really kicks ass in my book right now, so why ruin it with Windows? The only way I’ll give this one any serious thought is if the version of Windows 8 it runs is as similar as the version of iOS 5 the AppleTV runs compared to the version on an iPad. HOPEFULLY NOT TRUE, BREW.

10. A 2nd-gen Kinect will be built in:

Originally, the Kinect was meant to have a built-in processor, and much more precise and amazing features, but costs coupled with the fact that the Kinect wasn’t a proven product at the time, made this an impossible dream in 2010. Now, the Kinect is the fastest-selling consumer electronics device ever released.

What better way to launch its successor than to bundle it with the Avatar-quality beast machine that can handle all its extra oomph? I’m going to say that in general this is LIKELY AS ALL HELL, and then DEFINITELY if we’re saying there’ll be a version with and without it.

11. It will not play used games:

And finally, the deal-breaker of all deal-breakers. In a move that people who make money off of games love and people who have to pay money to play them hates, it has been heavily rumored that the Xbox 720 will come equipped with some sort of DRM built-in that will prevent the playing of used games on the system, effectively putting stores like GameStop out of business, and forcing us to pay whatever price they want us to for brand new games every single time.

An Xbox 720 shocked after trying to play a used game on the Xb— okay it’s been screens from Avatar this whole time. Ya got me.

Now, what I’ve described is an almost Orwellian worst-case scenario interpretation of this rumor. In my mind, it’s much more likely that discs will still be as resell-able as ever, but that in an effort to stymie the large theoretical losses that stores like GameStop cause for publishers and developers, they might do like the Vita and release its entire catalog online as well, at slightly cheaper prices. COOL IT, TROOBIES. THIS ONE’S FALSE, BUT ALSO TRUE, BUT ALSO FALSE DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT AND HOW AFRAID YOU ARE OF BIG BUSINESS.

So there you have it:

So, hey! I’d say that with a generous 6/11 TRUEBIES as I’m now going to call them, the prognosis for Microsofts next console is not one of despair. I mean, based on the strength of the 360 alone, this thing is gonna sell out, but maybe that thing we all blindly buy will actually turn out to be alright. Also, I really wanna watch Avatar. Must be because of how cool the Xbox 720 Loop thingy is gonna be. Wait, nope. That movie sucked kind of.

Alex Faciane is a freelance writer who loves video games about as much as you do, probably. He spends most of his time reading or writing about weird mysterious stuff or doing comedy in Los Angeles. If you love him or hate him, follow him on Twitter @facianea.

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