Everyone knows Microsoft
is readying the next version of its Xbox gaming platform. But Microsoft reportedly is not ready to officially recognize that, with the rumored announcement of a new console pushed back from this month to next.
According to a report in Fast Company, Microsoft has pushed back announcement of the next Xbox. Codenamed Durango, the next version is thought to carry the name Xbox 720. But news reports suggest the date for its announcement has shifted from April to May, with a launch later this year.
Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment, but the rumor mill is circulating on reasons for the delay. One reason suggested is the recent hack job into Microsoft's online services, including Xbox Live. Could Microsoft be delaying the release to beef up security?
Pricing Rumors Run Wild
Other rumors are delving into pricing. Paul Thurrott, a Windows blogger, is claiming a subscription-based Xbox will cost $300 and a traditional model will cost $500. He called it "expensive" in his What The Tech broadcast.
Thurrott also gave credence to rumors that the Xbox 720 will have an "always-online" requirement. He is certain the new version of the console comes with instructions that it "must be Internet-connected to use." In fact, he said, it stops functioning if the box goes offline for more than three minutes.
Thurrott went on to say that Microsoft has a "Stingray" Xbox 360 in the works. That would cost $99 and solves the problem of backward compatibility. He also pointed to a media center-only Xbox, codenamed Yumo, that is for entertainment other than video games.
Billy Pidgeon, an independent video game analyst in New York, said new game releases are vital for the brands.
"Console makers need to keep the current cycle viable," Pidgeon told us. "In other words, Sony and Microsoft need to continue to sell software for this current cycle until the new consoles come out."
That will be especially important if Pidgeon's next hunch turns out right. He's betting it's going to take longer to sell new consoles in the next cycle. That's because of the declining user base for video game consoles, which compete with online and mobile platforms.
"If the retail price is low, that will make a difference, but if the new consoles come out at a high price it's going to take some time for consumers to switch over," he said. "The console sector has peaked. Console makers will make a lot of money, but it's not going to be as lucrative. They probably made more money in the sector before 2008."