New Xbox Console Preview: The E3 Primer
Game Front’s E3 Primer series is focused on providing previews of key games, companies and gadgets leading up to E3 2013 (June 11-13, 2013). Bookmark our E3 channel and check back for more in-depth preview coverage leading up to the big show.
UPDATED 05/10/13; see the discussion of the console’s name for more.
For something that doesn’t technically exist yet, at least in a Schroedinger’s Cat sense, a suspiciously large amount of information about the new Xbox console has made its way into the world.
Microsoft has yet to release (or even confirm) even one iota of the plethora of details about the new Xbox console. Even in the face of significant consumer outrage, the company has refused to so much as cough in the direction of substantial data. But if Microsoft is remaining officially mum, the tech giant appears to be leaking like a sieve: 2013 has seen numerous sites reporting tips or posting documents purported to reveal everything from specs and features to the name of the device itself. The leaks are so common, in fact, that they are beginning to feel more like an over-saturation of viral marketing than any failure of corporate discipline.
But whatever cynical conclusion we may have reached about the company’s marketing strategy, we will learn how accurate these rumors are on May 21, when Microsoft officially unveils the new console at a tightly managed media event held at its Redmond, Washington HQ. This will be followed, it is widely believed, by a more extensive debut at E3 2013 this June here in Los Angeles. Until then, all we have is rumor and speculation, and a little pre-loaded outrage.
Let’s dig in then, and look at everything we know – or think we know – about the new Xbox.
What’s It Called?
Though lazy video game writers have referred to the next Xbox console as “Xbox 720″, Microsoft has consistently used code name “Durango” internally. But neither name will be slapped on the box when the device ships, it is assumed, later this year. However, reports citing anonymous sources suggest the company is either thinking huge, or posturing humbly.
The above image, mocked up by Reddit user C-Ron, comes along with numerous reports from anonymous sources that the console will be called “Xbox Infinity”. But before we break out the baptismal garments and head over to the christening, note that a different image leaked to Forbes says the new console is simply named “Xbox”.
It’s worth mentioning that many developers are increasingly of the opinion that, due to emerging technologies rendering consoles obsolete, the eighth generation of consoles will be the last. If they turn out to be right, then a name like “Infinity” makes a kind of sense1. Further, one of the few things Microsoft has confirmed about their new system is that it won’t simply a gaming system with additional features, but an all-purpose entertainment center. “Infinity” sums up that concept nicely. On the other hand, Forbes’ sources are far more likely to be legitimate, lending support to the eponymous name.
Our guess: “Infinity” has a next-gen marketspeak quality similar to “Kinect,” and sounds more like a service or an accessory than a primary device; if the image is legitimate, it probably describes an extension of Xbox Live connected to the device’s non-gaming features. Meanwhile, a no frills name like “Xbox” feels more like Microsoft SOP. In lieu of a confirmed name, we will for the purposes of this feature refer to the device as simply, “Xbox”.
UPDATE 05/10/13: The International Business Times reports this morning that “Sources related to development” of the new console have stated the new console’s name will be Xbox Infinity. Microsoft still has not officially confirmed this.
1) This is not to say we accept the idea that consoles will die. As we’ve explained at length elsewhere, the infrastructure needed to support the preferred replacement scheme doesn’t exist.