Microsoft announced last week the long-awaited reveal of the next-generation Xbox console will take place May 21 at an event in Redmond, Wash. With that, the next generation of gaming is closer than ever to becoming the current generation.
Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4 in February in a presentation that left much to desire. The event mostly served as a way to acknowledge the existence of the PS4 rather than giving concrete details such as pricing and a release date. Microsoft will no doubt learn from the mistakes Sony made.
It is difficult to know what to believe amongst the unconfirmed information available. Microsoft is finally set to provide details with the Xbox event. Here’s what to expect from the press conference.
Months after Sony introduced the PS4, the company still has yet to unveil the console design, pricing details and a firm release date. Microsoft had the chance to learn from Sony’s miscues and can use that in the Xbox reveal. The company will be smart to take a completely different approach.
Gamers will physically see the next generation of gaming when Microsoft puts the new Xbox console on display. Although it is merely a case hiding the important components of the system, seeing the console design is important to consumers. In addition to the look of the next Xbox, expect to hear concrete release information and pricing details. Speculation suggests a $500 price tag for the next Xbox with launch likely to occur in November.
Microsoft will also likely give the full specs of the console. The presentation will go beyond that as the power of the system will be put on display with tech demos. Expect Microsoft to stick to its current trend of integrating Windows 8 across all their devices. The event will showcase the ease-of-use in the system, especially with the improved gesture controls in the next iteration of the Kinect. An upgraded Kinect system is expected to be built into the new console.
Xbox has expanded beyond gaming into a huge brand for Microsoft. The company will treat the next console accordingly. Many Xbox 360 owners already use entertainment apps such as Netflix and YouTube on a daily basis. Microsoft has been building on relationships with entertainment providers behind the scenes and that will be reflected in the press conference. The next step is making the console a replacement set-top box complete with cable TV access and digital recording capabilities. Hardcore gamers may immediately turn off the event when this is announced but the next Xbox has its sights set higher than just the core gaming audience.
However, gamers should be happy with game streaming and recording options expected to be announced at the event. Players will be able to upload directly onto streaming sites like Twitch.tv. Improved and more integrated use of Xbox SmartGlass will also likely take a large chunk of the presentation as Microsoft aims to destroy Nintendo’s Wii U.
The focus of the event will be on the new Xbox system and Microsoft likely will not tip its hand on next-gen games until E3 comes around in June. Unlike Sony’s introductory presentation for PS4, the Xbox reveal will give consumers everything they need to know about the console itself. Microsoft is set on making the new Xbox the hub of home entertainment and the press conference will showcase that in ways that affect non-gamers. For that reason, the hardcore gaming audience might be disappointed in the event.
However, Microsoft will not completely forget about games during the reveal. All recent console announcements have included appearances from developers to show their support. Expect EA, which has been mostly silent on next-gen games thus far, to make a statement on stage and showcase some of the latest technology. A representative from Activision will also likely appear to discuss future Xbox timed exclusives involving the massively popular Call of Duty franchise.
Of course, Microsoft could slip in a big new game to keep the core audience happy. That would be the next installment of the Halo series. Console makers love to talk about their exclusive games and Halo is an extremely popular franchise Microsoft can bank on to make the transition between the Xbox 360 and next Xbox smooth while also encouraging sales of the console.