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H33rsay: Next Xbox launch line-up revealed, Xbox Mini details and always online requirement challenged

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The next Xbox home console from Microsoft has dominated rumour mills in both the videogame and technology markets over the last two weeks with enough speculation to put your head in a spin, but unconfirmed reports continue to spill in so we’re going to round them all up right now.


Always Online? Like the Xbox 360?

The next Xbox (referred to as Durango, Xbox 720, Xbox Next and Nextbox) is, according to rumour, to be revealed during a press event on May 21st while Microsoft is expected to offer two versions of the console to consumers: One priced at $500 and the other at $300. but subsidised by a subscription to Microsoft’s online services.

Last week the hot rumour was that Durango would require an always-on internet connection in order to function at all, with game access subject to this requirement, too. In a new round of rumours, however, this requirement has been challenged and while the nature of the device will be ‘always online’ in the same way the current Xbox 360 is, playing local content (non-online games) will not be prohibited by the lack of an internet connection, while used games will still be playable.

Xbox Mini

In addition, rumours point to the launch of something known as the Xbox Mini, a set-top box that will compete with the likes of the Roku box or Apple TV device, with online functionality for streaming of music, video, music and network programming. Likely not to include a disc drive, all games playable on the Xbox Mini will need to be downloaded and stored.

Most interestingly, however, is the proposed interconnectivity between Durango and the Xbox Mini, with backwards comparability for Xbox 360 games planned if you hook up (or hopefully just wirelessly pair) the devices together. If you slip an Xbox 360 disc into the Durango’s drive while the Xbox Mini is connected, you’ll be able to play Xbox 360 games. According to reports, the Xbox Mini will be launched at a price of $149, which conflicts with previous rumours pointing to a ‘cut down Xbox 360’ priced at $99.

Your Body is the Controller Again, This Time For the 2.0 Generation

According to speculation, Kinect 2.0 (for lack of a better term) will not be the primary focus for Durango, while development of the hardware and software for this device is currently handled by a department separate from Durango and other developments within Microsoft.

Does this mean that Kinect won’t play a major part in Microsoft’s plans going forward, or will the giant continue to trudge forward with motion-controlled gaming and user interfaces? Certainly Kinect is a good idea for family and party games, while interaction with menus can be improved to become the defacto method of controlling UI, but it may be folly for Microsoft to continue to push the technology as something hardcore gamers want, unless major innovations have been included in Kinect 2.0.

Which leads to…

That Launch Line-up

More recently, reports have surfaced regarding the supposed launch line-up of games for Durango, led by Crytek’s Kinect-based game, Ryse, which is said to be Microsoft’s headline action title for Durango to replace Gears of War and Halo on the frontline. Microsoft is working closely with Crytek to create Ryse to take full advantage of Durango’s hardware and the new functionality of Kinect 2.0, probably as a means to act as an example of what’s possible with the device for other developers to follow.

Appearing alongside Ryse at the launch of Durango will be a new Forza racing game, as well as ‘a zombie game’ and a Pixar movie style game which is said to feature the adventures of a family living on a remote island (also using Kinect to ‘scan’ players and place them in the world).

Third-party games like Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag are also on the cards for Durango’s launch, while first-person shooters will also be strongly represented on the console. In addition, Xbox LIVE improvements of some sort have been mentioned, while MS Points are said to have been scrapped in favour of real-world currency.

And What of Microsoft Creative Director, Adam Orth?

Lastly, it seems as though the Microsoft creative director who whipped gamers into a frenzy last week with his off-handed Twitter comments and ‘Deal with it’ attitude towards always online devices has left the employ of Microsoft. Adam Orth, according to various sources, resigned from Microsoft recently.

While Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg claimed he didn’t know who Orth was following his acidic comments, Microsoft’s statement on the matter last week read thus:

“We are aware of the comments made by an employee on Twitter. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views are not reflective of those of the company. We have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.”

An unfortunate end to the situation.

What do you make of these recent Xbox rumours? Do they make you more or less hopeful for Microsoft’s next console?

H33rsay is El33tonline’s round-up of game industry rumours and speculation where we have looks at unconfirmed and unannounced pieces of news emerging from anonymous tipsters, information leaks and generally dubious sources. It may not all be true, but it’s still fun to talk about!

Thanks to Erick Truter for the extra sources!


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