There’s been a lot of rumors lately about Microsoft in the news, and all of it points towards E3 2012. Strangely enough, all of the pieces fit together, and it could be the company’s attempt at a coup de grâce on Sony and Nintendo, as well as revitalizing PC gaming.
Recently, a theory arose from several sources that Microsoft would announce the next Xbox hardware at E3 2012, for release during the holiday shopping season later that year. For one, Eurogamer claimed that next-gen Xbox dev kits were being used by Electronic Arts and shown off behind closed doors at this past E3, something EA called a “total fabrication”. There were some Linkedin job ads with Microsoft looking for people who wanted to help Microsoft in “defining and delivering next generation console architectures from conception through implementation.”
Analysts have also been predicting the next Microsoft console in 2012. However, it’s the recent rumor that Sony will be debuting the PS4 in 2012 that’s the most telling. There has been an interesting waiting game between Microsoft and Sony lately: Microsoft won’t price cut the Xbox 360 til Sony does, while Sony won’t issue new hardware til Microsoft does. If the PS4-in-2012 rumor is true, then it could be Sony learning Microsoft’s intentions. (It’s interesting to note that neither Microsoft nor Sony blinked or cared than Nintendo price slashed the Wii or announced the Wii U.)
That makes the timing of the latest rumor even more intriguing: rumor site InsiderIs is stating that Windows 8 will run Xbox 360 software (provided the user pays for Xbox Live Gold). If the next Microsoft console is incompatible with Xbox 360 software, what better way to continue enjoying 360 games than on PC? Though it’s highly unlikely the nominal Xbox 720 will not have backwards compatibility; in fact, it’s likely to have 100% compatibility in the same way the Wii is with the Gamecube because Microsoft will have the same processor branded chips in the next console. The Xbox 360 was not compatible with the Xbox 1 because of the expiring contract; in fact, the Xbox 360 was rushed to market because of the expiring contract, which was the reason for all the Red Ring of Death issues.
So picture E3 2012: Microsoft comes out and first introduces the Xbox 720 (or whatever they call it), and proclaims not only is it coming in 2012, but Halo 4 will be its launch title. If that weren’t enough, they’ll also introduce Windows 8 and announce that you can play all your Xbox 360 games on it, with the launch of the newly merged Games for Windows Live and Xbox Live sites, with an all-new synergized Marketplace, with all Xbox 360 games now available digitally, and playable on Xbox 360, PC and Xbox 720. (Not only that, but the merger would make it infinitely easy for gamers to transfer their Xbox Live Arcade titles from the 360 to PC and Xbox 720.)
A lot of this is possible because of DirectX. Developers already are well-versed in it, and even 360 games late in development can be tweaked to have better graphics, resolution and so on for the next Xbox hardware since it’ll be running the same language. It’s much like how PlayStation 2 games like God of War 2 looked even better on the PS3 when it still had the Emotion chip on the motherboard.
That announcement would be an incredible thunderclap that would even give Valve and Steam some pause.
Keep an eye out for leaks about the new Xbox hardware in the next few months, with leaked images of boxes and hardware much like what was surrounding the Xbox 360 S redesign. Somehow, all the pieces fit – and if true, it’ll make Nintendo and Sony scramble to try to catch up.
Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews, release dates and up to date gaming industry news, trailers and rumors.