The PS4 has been announced for over two months now, and all eyes are on Microsoft to see what the plans are for the next Xbox. The year is already a third of the way over, and we’ve not heard much of anything out of official channels until now. Today, invitations went out for a next-gen Xbox unveiling event in Redmond on May 21.
At 10am Pacific Time on the 21st, Microsoft’s Don Mattrick will be announcing the details of the next Xbox. While only select press will get to see it in person, Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb has confirmed that the event will be streaming live on Xbox.com and Xbox Live while Spike TV will be covering it on cable. Just two and a half weeks later, Microsoft will be out in full force at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) to show off next-gen games. Finally, we’ll get to see the PS4 and Xbox 720 go head-to-head on the showroom floor.
The situation has gotten ugly with the rumors and preemptive backlash around always-on DRM in the upcoming Xbox 720. In fact, this reveal might have even been pushed back to the 21st to deal with the PR nightmare surrounding the Adam Orth fiasco. At this point, all we can do is hope that Microsoft has the wisdom not to fight against customer demand.
So, what can we expect the Xbox 720 to do besides run prettier games? Well, rumors have it that a 1080p Kinect will ship bundled with the console, and that makes sense with Sony tackling motion sensing in a similar way with the PS4. Microsoft has also been surprisingly progressive with its support of tablets and smartphones with its SmartGlass initiative, so it’s possible Microsoft will try to outdo Nintendo’s Wii U on second screen support.
Whatever Microsoft does, expect Sony to come on strong. After losing its competitive edge with the PS3, Sony seems to be going all in with the PS4. We’ve yet to see a price or release date from Sony, so it’s likely that it will try to undercut any bold moves from Microsoft. We’re in for quite a battle in the next year or two, and the ball is in Microsoft’s court with the Xbox 720.
Incidentally, should we start taking bets on what the Xbox 720 will actually be called? Here in the ExtremeTech bunker, James Plafke has his money on the Xbox 360 2, but most of us think it’ll just be called Xbox— much in the same vein as Apple forsook model numbers with its “new iPad.”