Industry analyst predicts Xbox 720 might be a hybrid console
Next-gen seems to be the rumor of choice for console aficionados, and today's no different - ideas of when Microsoft's new console's hitting the market vary wildly, from the highly conservative (not until at least 2015, if not later) to the highly unlikely (Holiday 2012).
Assuming Microsoft does end up releasing a next-gen offering, there's a fairly strong indication that the Xbox 360's successor might just be connected to the cloud. What does this mean? Doesn't Microsoft already have the Xbox LIVE Arcade? Could it be that the console might not feature a hard drive? Sadly, no. we're simply not at a point where that's a viable choice. Plus, a lot of people still like their physical copies.
"I don't expect vendors to leave physical media formats out of next generation consoles," M2 research analyst Billy Pidgeon told IndustryGamers, "Gaikai and OnLive are viable game delivery systems, but in the near term, cloud gaming services can't yet allow access on a scale to realize their inherent disruptive potential. Again, back to basics, next-gen consoles and dedicated handhelds must link to user accounts stored on servers rather than locking down identity and content ownership at a device level.”
"I do, however, agree with Microsoft's assertion that cloud-based game delivery as a replacement for physical media is in the long term future,” Pidgeon continued, "All digital content service providers must integrate at least a basic level of cloud technology today in order to remain competitive… consumers are going to demand cloud services, including persistent storage and some delivery options when paying for digital content (including games) whether the content is meant to be accessed on the web or on a device.”
From the sounds of it, Microsoft's cloud offerings will work a lot like Steam, allowing players to download the top new releases onto their system and store data on the cloud. And just like Steam, you're going to need a physical hard drive to store the game data, even if your save files and user information are all stored on the cloud.
This is actually rather exciting. Think about it: if user accounts and save data are all stored on the cloud, what do you suppose that means for one's gaming experience? Instead of having to haul an entire console or a hard drive to a LAN party, or recover an account onto a new Xbox, all you'll have to do is show up, log in, and start playing. Sounds pretty sweet, doesn't it?
Now, as for everyone's expectation that this new functionality will be releasing onto a new system… I'd say that all these rumors should be taken with a large grain of salt. It's equally as likely that this sort of functionality will be coming for the Xbox 360, rather than some mythical, as-yet uncertain predecessor. That's still up in the air... and it's a topic for another day.
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
[Other Gaming News +]
MORE FROM GAMEDYNAMO