Will a new Xbox be revealed in April?
Now that Sony has made the first move (albeit a very conservative one), the ball is effectively in Microsoft’s court. Rumours have surfaced all across the Internet that the next Xbox will be unveiled in the month of April; some of them seem to have a specific date down as well: April 26. But Microsoft is not only yet to confirm nor deny, it seems to be unwilling to drop the faintest sign of a hint about a reveal event for a successor to the Xbox 360 — all (official) signs point to E3 2013, but that doesn’t mean all this juicy speculation is uncalled for.
April seems like the perfect time for a game of one-upmanship. A lot of fans were left with a sour taste in the mouth following the lack of concrete information or imagery during the PS4 event (although we did get to see some nice demos), and a reveal before E3 would be the perfect platform to announce (and show pictures!) the new Xbox (and tell us what it’s going to be called). But what else can Microsoft do to take the lead in the race for next gen?
For starters, it should reveal the console right at the beginning of the event (okay, maybe after one of those “spiritual” tech intros). Following which, the console (or ten consoles) should be placed on stage at all times — this would make a clear statement. The specs should be clear and Microsoft should be very specific about the hardware (processing capability, display standards, storage space, connectivity and storage media) and perhaps even go to the shocking extent of announcing a price point. Second, there should be live gameplay demos, with developers showcasing their games by actually playing them on stage as opposed to playing video clips. We’d obviously want to see all those lovely first party exclusives — Halo, Forza, Gears of War, Fable, Crackdown (yes, Crackdown) and maybe a Halo Wars sequel that features Kinect interactivity.
It would also serve Microsoft well to announce big partnerships, but could be left for E3, given that a majority of their partners will also be exhibiting their wares at the event. In the gaming space, you could expect to see the next Call of Duty game and an endorsement from Electronic Arts and Ubisoft — partners from whom Microsoft has traditionally received backing. In the entertainment space, there's Netflix, Hulu and a host of streaming services that are sure to make an appearance as well as sports channels (which will feature even more enhanced features). Connectivity with Microsoft's surface is another possibility — it will be interesting to see what they come up with, given the inability of that platform to break through thus far.
It would seem that Sony’s reveal caught Microsoft slightly off-guard, particularly after Sony CEO Kaz Hirai’s statement in late January about waiting for Microsoft to make the first move (with a particular reference to specifications which can be improved upon by competitors). But it isn’t too late to consolidate, and while the first-mover advantage may be lost, Microsoft can capitalise on all that Sony didn’t get right — assuming there’s a reveal event in April, of course.