New Xbox One hardware has been flowing through the rumour mill for a while now and today has only fuelled such rumours with some shape or form of new Xbox hardware almost guaranteed to make an appearance at E3 on June 13th. Rumours range from an Xbox 1 .5, the ‘Next Xbox’, an ‘Xbox TV’ and ‘Xbox Streaming stick’ an ‘Xbox VR’. There’s been a ton of information from various sources today so here’s our summary of all the new information released today and how to make sense of it all.
Firstly, the rumours kicked off in full swing today due to a podcast by one Brad Sams who runs a podcast titled ‘The Sams Report’ in Episode 41 released today.
Brad Sams reported in his podcast that Microsoft is planning to reveal two recently rumoured streaming devices at E3, one the size of a Chromecast and another that is slightly larger with a few more capabilities. The larger model, which is rumored to be priced around $175 – $150, may be a more capable streaming device than the smaller device, with more features, the ability to run apps and play games. The Chromecast-like device will simply be for streaming. Sams previously reported on the new Xbox elite controller, ahead of its announcement at E3 last year.
This could be down to some from of a plan to grab a bigger share of the casual, “cheap gamer” market with an entry-level streaming device; in the hope of getting them invested in the ecosystem or the ‘platform’ and then upgrading to other Xbox hardware.
A new Xbox One that will allow 4K media capabilities, but NOT 4K gaming. In addition to that, Microsoft will be talking about Xbox as a platform, instead of a gaming console. This is something likely as part of their evolution of bringing Xbox and Windows into closer unity. To further push this union with PC forward, Microsoft will be bringing the Xbox interface to Windows 10 also.
Sams rounds off saying that he believes that next year Microsoft has huge plans for the Xbox – including new hardware architecture for the console and built-in VR support.
You can check out his full podcast by watching it here:
I’d also advise giving him a follow to ensure you can hear the news first from him as he seems to be in the loop with Microsoft and Xbox related rumours.
The next leak comes in the form of a tweet from a known leaker of Microsoft related news Tom Warren.
New Xbox at E3 will be 40% smaller…
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) 25 May 2016
Warren also pointed to the possibility of seeing Cortana come to the Xbox One ‘TV’/Streaming device as part of the Summer update.
Worth remembering Cortana is coming to the Xbox One in the summer. That means it has to come to this “Xbox TV” device
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) May 25, 2016
Kotaku, who were one of the biggest sites to leak PS4K or PS4 Neo information also confirmed today that they’ve received information from their sources concerning new Xbox hardware.
Kotaku write that “Later this year we’ll see a cheaper, smaller Xbox One, and next year Microsoft will release a more powerful version of their premiere console.”
“The 2017 Xbox, which is codenamed Scorpio, will have a more powerful GPU”
“We hear that it will also be technically capable of supporting the Oculus Rift and that Microsoft is pursuing a partnership with Oculus.”
We already know that the foundation is there for a partnership between Microsoft and Oculus with their deal ensuring that the Xbox One controller will be included with every Oculus Rift, Xbox One games will be playable on Oculus Rift and that The Rift will work natively with Windows 10 to make it easy to set up, jump in, and have an incredible VR gaming experience. Combined with DirectX 12 technology that unlocks the full capabilities of new Windows 10 graphics hardware, made-for-VR games on Windows 10 will have the fastest frame rates and top performance.
Back in September of last year, Nate Mitchell, the vice president of product at Oculus, told Polygon: “It has been a conversation, but I can say we’re not so close,” but perhaps then things have changed now with more powerful Xbox hardware rumoured to be on the way.
With Sony owning its own dedicated VR offering in the form of PSVR and Microsoft working on their own personal Augmented Reality headset, it seems like a win-win scenario for Microsoft and Oculus. Oculus can gain a foothold in the console market and Xbox can get VR support without being the company to manufacture/research/design the headset itself.
With AMD’s Polaris being out this year on the new FinFET, it does seem like a good time to be upgrade the hardware of both consoles as the console makers can reap the benefits of new, powerful hardware at relatively affordable costs as AMD cut their costs of production.
The recommended settings for using the Rift are as follows:
NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
2x USB 3.0 ports
Windows 7 SP1 or newer
“The two consoles form part of a wider Microsoft strategy, codenamed “Project Helix” according to one source, to converge Xbox and Windows.”
“I’m not a big fan of Xbox One and a half. If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers,” Spencer told Game Informer back in April at a Windows/Microsoft event. “I don’t know anything about any of the rumors that are out there, but I can understand other teams’ motivations to do that. For us, our box is doing well. It performs, it’s reliable, the servers are doing well. If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people — an upgrade.”
Spencer later revealed in a podcast hosted by Major Nelson podcast more insight on the way he sees the Xbox One hardware upgrades taking form: “Am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces of my console? That’s not our plan. There is something special about what happens with a console. You buy an appliance-like device; you plug it into your TV; it works when you plug it in. It’s not like I’m going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out.
“What I’m saying is as hardware innovations happen we want to be able to embrace those in the console space. And make those available and maybe not have to wait seven or eight years for things to happen.”
The key here is that no one game can be exclusive to this higher-end model and all games must be forwards and backwards compatible. Microsoft is perfectly situated to make this work with UWP and UWA which will allow developers to easily bring games to both the Xbox One and the upgraded Xbox One whereby the upgraded Xbox One will see performance improvements such as a higher resolution but the core game will be the same and will work on either device.
Konami talked about how consoles need to be ‘evolutionary’ to survive in a recent presentation.
Konami believes that consoles should transition towards evolutionary platforms rather than be static. This will allow for a higher install base and the opportunity for more games to come to console in the form of free to play or even traditional premium priced games that can create a healthy profit despite the high development cost. Rather than creating Xbox One and the Xbox Two , Microsoft should create an Xbox One.1 and have the OS and game library become the core of what defines the platform rather than the cosmetic evolution and differing ecosystems of prior generations.
Where do you stand on these leaks? Are you happy to see new Xbox hardware on the way? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.