Microsoft Xbox 360 rumour roundup

Microsoft are very, very, very determined to win the console wars. And they have both the money and the brains to do it. They have even dragged the Xbox side of the company into profit (despite RRoD). One day it will be their most profitable division.

As the 360 matures into the middle of this current cycle Microsoft are working very hard to ensure that they get as much of the cake as possible when sales volumes are at their highest. With E3 coming up and senior Microsoft executives getting very excited we are obviously going to get some very big news. Here is some of what is going on:

1) Following the lead of the Wii, Microsoft are implementing a gesture interface. This is especially valuable for casual gaming and thus for reaching new demographics. Rare in England have been doing some of the software work on the new interface but one of the driving forces appears to be Dale Herigstad who was largely responsible for the gesture interface in the film Minority Report. This leads to the possibility that there may well be two motion controllers involved, one for each hand.

2) Microsoft want to drop the price of the 360 to $199 or even $149 (in staged decreases) so as to massively increase volumes and put the boot into the opposition. They are aided by the very elegant design of the machine and the fact that they own the IP rights for the GPU and CPU. Already several hardware redesigns have reduced costs significantly. However putting the CPU and GPU together on one chip will be important, as will significantly reducing the size of the whole machine. It is obvious that Microsoft are gearing up to have the 360 as the junior model of a two model range with the upcoming 720 as a premium console.

3) The big hard drives are coming. Up to one terabyte are already rumoured to be in the pipeline. This is essential as Microsoft develop the 360 into being a home media centre and as they move away from physical distribution of content. The 360 uses laptop style hard drives so as these become bigger and cheaper for laptops they will be adopted for the console. As we move into the 720 generation we can expect drives with several terabytes. The more the better.

4) Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts will be the first 360 game to feature some of the new software developments including the gesture interface. Hardly surprising since it comes from Rare, who worked on those developments. Here is a video of the game with Ken Lobb.

5) Virtual user creation system (avatars). Something like the Miis on the Wii or Home on the PS3. Of course Microsoft are a software company and have been able to learn from what their competitors have done so expect a more comprehensive implementation of the concept. This feature is rumoured to have slipped a lot from it’s original street date and has been largely put together by Rare.

6) Social networking on Xbox Live. About time Microsoft fixed this glaring omission and caught up with services like Steam. If they get this right it could become just about compulsory for every keen gamer to own a $149 Xbox 360 just to be part of the gaming community. Even Sony enthusiasts!

7) 3D Dashboard. Once again this is about time too. Integrated with the gesture interface and avatars this will change the look and feel of using an Xbox 360 enormously. Although Live is by far the most popular online console service, at the moment it is looking a bit clunky compare with Home or Second Life. Microsoft aim to leapfrog these other environments with something that will really be state of the art.

If (as seems increasingly likely) this is all true it will give Microsoft and the Xbox 360 a massive leap forward in the marketplace. With an unremitting game release schedule they are providing the content to back this up. (Too Human, Halo 4, Alan Wake, Forza Motorsport 3, Gears of War 2 etc) I can see many industry analysts being wrong again. The only potential blot in the ointment is the upcoming economic downturn. But then people give up entertainment last.


  1. This all sounds like a company playing catchup with their competitors to me. I think the first thing they should do is make a device which a) works reliably and b) isn’t the size of a house.

    I think Nintendo have read the wider games market spot on, with MS and Sony desperately trying to cash in on their lead.

  2. Hi Anon,

    I am not convinced about anything until it is officially announced. Presumably you missed the word “rumour” in the title and also the album sleeve.

  3. Microsoft need to do something given somewhat stagnant sales, and the time is right for a system overhaul without changing core hardware.

  4. “and b) isn’t the size of a house.” Are you kidding me? Have you looked at and felt the weight of a ps3 lately?? talk about a house, if the xbox is a house then the ps3 is a mansion.

    My xbox’s work just fine btw.

    This is not a company playing catch up, sony has AND STILL IS playing catch up. Want to talk about catch up? how about ‘fall back’ thats wht the ps3 is doing.

    Their implementation of the XMB is terrible (I do own a ps3 btw) they have implemented a music feature that is EXACTLY the same as the xbox-1 – custom music only available in games IF the developer supports and codes for it.

    That my friend is a step back, not forward.

    Their entire XMB is limited no matter where your at. Different pieces of the XMB are available depending on what your doing.

    The xbox ‘xmb’ if you will has all features available EVERYWHERE accept video chat which to me is understandable and if sony implement in-game video chat then what do you think thats going to do to the game, yup lag it out like crazy. Bad idea.

    Microsoft are changing, as is sony and nintendo, to the demand of the industry and consumer and by making these changes they are seeing whats working, what is asked for and are adapting for it.

    Enough said.

    P.S “at the moment it is looking a bit clunky compare with Home or Second Life. Microsoft aim to leapfrog these other environments with something that will really be state of the art.”

    That is an unfair statement. You cannot compair what xbox live has to a product that Sony keeps delaying and still has not gotten to market. If I recall, even at the end of this year home wont be ‘live’ but will still be beta so again, it’s unfair to compare whats real to somthing that so far is not close to being what was promised, nor available to every PS3 owner.

  5. Bruce, I must agree with Oaf on this one — for the most part, your list is all about features already implemented or in the works for the Wii and PS3. Without real innovation, it would seem that Microsoft’s main hope now is to try to convince consumers that the Xbox 360 is a better value than its competitors — not an impossible task, but no slam-dunk either as Nintendo and Sony also continue to evolve their consoles.

  6. The minority report information is interesting. I’m wondering if the new 4800’s are some how “related” to the 360 pipeline technology. The new ATI cards are capable of Ray Tracing

    Hmm Xbox 4I.

    It will be interesting to see the price this christmas, MS has plenty of breathing space.

    As usual MS has focused on the underlying technical aspects of the interface technology, but I feel they need to focus more on informational speed. For example why aren’t images cached? and Marketing should only be found at top level and lowest level elements of the interface the rest should be pure information.

    I have heard of social networking, its what people do when I’m not around. A social page around XBox live accounts would be good.

  7. I agree with the above poster. Integrating something like the Zune Social into XBL would be great. Imagine downloading music for the Zune on the X360 and transfer them to your Zune. No need to plug it into your pc.

  8. I am a fan of games, not consoles or companies. I own all three systems. Anything any of the three major players do to add technology, value, and fun to their system is ok in my book.

    Naturally MS and Sony are going to try to emulate the success of the Nintendo Wii and take bits and pieces and rework them for their own business model and visa versa. This is to be expected. New ideas and success breed competition, and that is a good thing.

    I look forward to all the innovations coming down the pipeline in software and hardware. If even one of these rumors turns out to be true that will be good in my book.

  9. Is the RRoD fixed?

  10. Oaf-The ninendo isn’t out for the widest market. I personally dislike the Wii because of the lack of really deep games. The Wii is flooded with “casual” games that are pathetic. THAT is a step back.

  11. 1 & 7 People have been talking about how cool it would be to use the PSEYE in such a way as to control the XMB with just hand gestures and now perhaps the new 360 controller will do the same. Personally I don’t see wither happening for quite a while. While a cool feature they both know there are more important things to focus on right now. Although I am usre the controller is coming in some form or another.

    2 & 3 The Only reason Microsoft is currently dropping the price of the Pro model is to clear stock so the rumored 60GB Pro model can take it’s place. That is why we haven’t heard of any price drops for the Arcade or Elite models yet. As for bigger HD maybe in the 720 or whatever it will be called. As for this gen though I don’t think it will go to much higher with the Astronomically high rates they charge for their Hardrives it’s rediculous.

    4. As for this rumor it could or could not be true they currently denied it but it would be a good idea to debut a good game with the motion controller that would use it in many ways. I wouldn’t doubt they use Rare as they are a very talented and creative developer.

    5. I am sure they will come up with something like this if not for this generation the next since both Nintendo & Sony both have these Avatars available they don’t want to be left out.

  12. I’m not sure “elegant” is quite the right word to describe a design which has put over 10m costly failure-prone units in the wild.

    The expectation that MS (or Sony) are going to carry on regardless and put out another wallet-hammering machine in the light of the pain they’ve faced this generation (and the phenomenal success of the Wii) is also a bit peculiar.

    Also… profitable? Wha..?

  13. RavenWolfx: Unfortunately you’re a shrinking market.

    I agree with Wilder; I’m a fan of good games, not any particular brand. When LBP comes out on PS3, I’ll probably buy the console. If anything that I really like comes out on XB, I’ll do the same (maybe, the RRoD bothers me).

    But, to me, Nintendo have really progressed video games and brought them to a lot of people who normally wouldn’t bother with such things.

    And that’s why I think Sony and MS are playing catchup.

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