As anticipation builds for the upcoming next-generation console from Microsoft, rumors proliferate. We've received hints and tips from unidentified "sources" and employee Twitter accounts, but so far little solid info has come out ahead of Microsoft's big reveal on May 21. Here's a roundup of the rumors we've heard so far.
Always Online: To Be or Not To Be?
The debate over whether the Xbox 720 (code name: Durango) will require an Internet connection to function has been hot and heavy over the past few weeks. Gamers and developers have conflicting opinions, and it even cost one Microsoft employee his job. It's easy to understand why gamers would be upset about the requirement. It's one thing to make an Internet connection necessary for certain functions and games, but it's an entirely different matter to make the console useless without the Internet.
The latest reports suggest that fans may not have anything to worry about. A source recently told Ubergizmo, "You are not required to be connected to the Internet in order to play Durango games." Take this unverified report with a grain of salt, but considering the backlash from the SimCity debacle, it doesn't seem like the company will be moving to an online-only platform. How much you'll be able to do offline, however, is still very much in question.
Kratos...Is That You?
Leaked specs for the console suggest that it will not have the graphic prowess of its competitor, the PlayStation 4. Reports say that Xbox 720 will be released with a graphics chip comparable to the AMD Radeon 7790, vs. PS4's custom 1.84 TFlops, AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next Engine. Durango is also rumored to come with 8GB GDDR5 RAM and 32 MB of ESRAM, compared to the PlayStation's unified 8GB GDDR5 RAM. The Kinect 2.0 will also reportedly get a major boost to help cut down on lag. But the controller is expected to remain essentially the same.
For more information, VGLeaks has offered a very detailed report on the graphics and memory capabilities of the upcoming console, but it can only be decoded by the smartest of tech geeks. Keep in mind though, everything is conjecture until Microsoft starts talking.
We've Come for the TV
Most experts belief that Microsoft wants the Xbox 720 to become the epicenter of its users' entertainment systems. The company has reportedly added a slew of apps and will delve into TV streaming to make the Xbox 720 a one-stop shop for digital entertainment. According to the Verge, the console could replace your cable box. Rumors suggest that it will even leverage Kinect's technology to automatically pause when your eyes leave the screen and allow voice-enabled search.
Rumors also point to the creation of a mini-Xbox TV that could take a run at Apple TV. The 360-based product will allegedly stream content from the Xbox Live Arcade and "on-demand" titles. It won't even have a disc drive. The device would likely not appear until 2014.
Sharing Is Caring
Thus far, Microsoft has not mentioned whether Durango will prevent gamers from playing used games. But with Sony backing away, it seems unlikely that Microsoft will want to draw that line in the sand. And although we think the system probably won't feature backward compatibility, reports suggest that gamers will be able to play their 360 games on the 720, with aid from an Xbox 360 SoC (System on Chip).
The Xbox 720 is slated to arrive this Christmas in direct competition with Sony's PS4. The next-generation console is expected to come with a $500 price tag, but expect some adjustments to make the race competitive. Microsoft will also reportedly be releasing a more budget-friendly edition of the 360 for $99 during the holidays.