The PlayStation 4 which was announced on the 20th February seems to have surprised Microsoft and it seems they will respond with the new Xbox to be announced within weeks. It is being reported that Microsoft will launch the new Xbox at an event in April but I think it’s more probable they are trying to launch just before the Games Developer Conference (GDC).
The April date which is being muted is after GDC in which more footage from upcoming PlayStation 4 titles will be presented. If Microsoft is smart, and they are, they would not sit by and let PlayStation 4 dominate another news cycle. GDC will become a rumorfest if the new Xbox is not announced beforehand and this will not help Microsoft.
Early details are that a new improved Kinect will dominate the new Xbox – a feature “core” gamers are not enamored with. Adding to their disdain, the Kinect will have to be constantly plugged in for the new Xbox to even work, according to the leaked report. Again a pinch of salt is required but if this new Kinect is central to Microsoft’s plans, then this is the clearest swing away from the “hardcore” gamer that they have always targeted with their previous Xbox versions.
The new Xbox is rumored to block used games. This rumor had an effect on Gamestop’s shares a number of weeks ago. Sony has confirmed that the Playstation 4 will NOT block used games, however I believe they will be focusing more on digital distribution via Gaikai.
Despite the negativity we’re already seeing towards the new Xbox, it may have one feature that could be rather groundbreaking and Star Trek-like. That is the IllumiRoom which expands the world you are playing beyond your TV and into your living room. IllumiRoom is augmented reality, peripheral projection technology that combines the Kinect camera with a projector to extend the game environment off of your monitor and onto the walls around it. If this is added to the Kinect along with support for it from the more “hardcore” games, then this could be a killer feature for the new Xbox.
Checkout A Demo of Microsoft’s IllumiRoom Technology