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Predictions For The Next Xbox
Tomorrow, Microsoft will lift the curtain on it's new Xbox, placing the final piece in the next-gen puzzle. Speculation has run rampant for months on what the console will entail, so I've decided to gather a few of the more notable rumors and give my opinion on their likelihood of actually happening. Let's get to it.
A Redesigned Controller - Prediction: No
Outside of a few minor tweaks, I expect the controller to remain largely the same. Many people love the current gamepad, and there's little need for any drastic changes. Hopefully the long-problematic d-pad is improved, though.
The Console Is Always Online - Prediction: No
Besides the fact that wide-spread availability of high speed internet is still a ways away, the reason Microsoft won't do this is more so because Sony isn't. The concept of a console requiring a constant internet connection has been largely detested and the recent SimCity debacle has served as a harsh reminder of the pitfalls such a system can have. Despite the rumors, I simply can't picture Microsoft doing something that will clearly give their chief competitor an edge.
The Console Will Block Used Games - Prediction: No
This is for the same reason as the previous prediction, but more so. The Wii U allows used games, Sony has stated that the PS4 won't block them, and people probably hate the idea even more so than an always-online console. Whether developers like it or not, a sizable amount of gamers rely on the used game market to affordably enjoy their hobby. Microsoft would be foolish to basically hand-deliver a big chunk of it's audience over to Sony and Nintendo by doing this. Piracy needs to be dealt with, but until games go completely digital, used games are here to stay. That brings me to my next prediction...
Games Will Only Be Digital - Prediction: No
As I said before, high-speed internet simply isn't a reality for many areas in the U.S., let alone the rest of the world. Shutting out those people by eliminating physical copies of games would only hurt Microsoft in the next-gen war.
A Next Generation Kinect - Prediction: Yes
Not only will there be a new and (hopefully) improved Kinect, I expect it to be bundled with the new Xbox. By ensuring that every Xbox owner has the device, developers will be more enticed to create more, better games for it, which is something the current Kinect desperately needs. Unfortunately, this also means we'll likely be treated to awkward Kinect demos that last entirely too long
Microsoft Beefs Up On Exclusives - Prediction: Yes
It's no secret that the Xbox lags way behind it's competitors when it comes to exclusive titles. I think that'll change come tomorrow. Respawn Entertainment, the studio formed by former Infinity Ward masterminds, Jason West and Vince Zampella, will be on-hand tomorrow to debut it's much-anticipated first project, codenamed Titan. I'd be shocked Titan wasn't an Xbox-exclusive, or at the very least, a timed exclusive. I'm sure we'll see more than a few surprise titles from other studios as well. There will probably be next-gen sequels of Microsoft staples; perhaps a new Fable, Forza, or Dance Central? With Sony's new indie game initiative, I expect Microsoft to fight back with it's own line-up of Xbox-only indie titles.
Xbox Live Becomes A Free Service - Prediction: No
Despite the growing popularity of Playstation Network's free service, Xbox Live remains a lucrative success, with over 40 million memberships worldwide. It's clear that people are still willing to pony up the cash, and until that's no longer the case, you can bet Microsoft will continue to charge for it. Now if we can only get rid of all those pesky ads.
The New Xbox Will Release Before The PS4 - Prediction: Yes
I highly doubt Mircosoft will allow Sony to get the jump on them, even by just a week or two.
IllumiRoom Is A Thing For The New Xbox - Prediction: Yes
For those unaware, IllumiRoom is a crazy new technology Microsoft is developing that basically uses some sort of projector to splash moving images onto your living room walls (flames, abstract shapes, etc.) to further immerse players into the game. Whether or not IllumiRoom actually launches with the console is another story, but I'd bet quite a bit on it being a future feature that will be shown off in some capacity at the reveal tomorrow.
That's all from me. I'll be excitedly tuning into the conference tomorrow to see how my predictions hold up. Like I did for the Playstation 4 reveal, I'll return with a hub or two detailing the happenings of tomorrow's show and my thoughts on the announcements. Make sure to tune in tomorrow at 10am to catch the conference in all it's next-gen-y glory.