Feb 6th, 2013

Xbox 720Last week we gave a list of 5 things we expected from the upcoming PlayStation 4 console, and now it’s Xbox 720’s turn. The Xbox 360 has been a huge success for Microsoft, and has to date outsold the PlayStation 3 globally. Which is quite a feat, considering that Xbox 360’s Japanese sales are almost non-existent. Microsoft is hard at work on the Xbox 720 (or whatever it’ll be called), and will likely unveil it later this year, perhaps at E3 2013.

Xbox 720 will launch within a year

Sony will reveal the PlayStation 4 on February 20, which means it’s highly likely the new console will launch this November. We doubt that Microsoft will give Sony a head start — one of the reasons the Xbox 360 has outsold the PS3 is because it got a full year head start on the market. If Microsoft doesn’t launch the Xbox 720 this Fall, they certainly will launch during PS4’s launch window. Which means late-2013 or early 2014. PREDICTION: XBOX 720 LAUNCHES LATE 2013 / EARLY 2014.

Xbox 720 will feature PC hardware

While we’re certain that the PlayStation 4 will utilize similar, custom hardware as the PS3, Microsoft is much more inclined to use standard PC hardware for their new console. This is largely due to the fact that Microsoft already has powerful games and 3D tools for the PC called DirectX, which runs on x86 and standard PC components. According to the latest rumors, the Xbox 720 will feature a new version of DirectX 11, which will be very similar to the current one found in Windows 7 and 8. This should be good news for PC gamers, because it will be easier to port Xbox 720 games to the PC. PREDICTION: XBOX 720 WILL BE ON PAR WITH MODERN GAMING PCS

Blu-ray is finally here

Blu-ray is a Sony technology, and initially, Microsoft supported the rival HD-DVD, which ultimately failed. Sales of the HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 were very disappointing, which wasn’t a surprise. This time, Microsoft will likely chose to go with Blu-ray, but it doesn’t have to. Nintendo has their own proprietary disc storage system for the Wii U which stores up to 25 GB. Microsoft easily has the resources to develop their own disc system for the Xbox 720. However, seeing as how the Xbox 720 will continue the “media hub” mantra from the Xbox 360, it makes sense to go with Blu-ray in order to support movie playback, etc. PREDICTION: XBOX 720 SHIPS WITH A BLU-RAY DRIVE

New version of Kinect

While most hardcore gamers dismissed Kinect as a gimmick, the truth is that the device sold millions of units to casual gamers. Microsoft will no-doubt try to appeal to those gamers once again by bundling the Xbox 720 with a new and updated Kinect. However, we still expect hardcore gamers to look past Kinect — it’s highly unlikely to offer any meaningful gameplay innovation to games such as Halo and Gears of War. But we’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft has in store for us. PREDICTION: XBOX 720 SHIPS WITH NEW AND IMPROVED KINECT

Competitive launch price

The launch price will be a lot more important for the Xbox 720 than it was for the Xbox 360. The economy isn’t what it used to be, and the market for a $400+ console is a lot smaller today than it was in the late 2000s. Microsoft knows this, and we believe they’ll will price the Xbox 720 competitively not just with the PS4, but with the Nintendo Wii U as well. The Wii U’s Deluxe set retails at $350, which sounds like a good starting point for the Xbox 720. We also think the base model will not include the new Kinect sensor. PREDICTION: XBOX 720 STARTS AT $350 WITHOUT KINECT