The internet has been awash with rumours about next generation hardware, with plausible reports flooding in from a variety of sources. Judging by the level of traction these stories have received, it’s safe to assume that both Microsoft and Sony will indeed release new consoles in 2013.
A successor to the Xbox 360 has been in the works since 2010, at least according to a genuine-looking specs sheet that leaked online last summer.
Some reports claim the console is in the works under the codename of Durango, while other sources refer to it as Thebes. The PlayStation 4, meanwhile, is readily known as Orbis.
With so many reports about both systems floating around, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the hype. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up all the rumours on what their biggest features will be, when you’ll see them and the games and tech behind them.
When will they be announced and released?
There has been no shortage of speculation about both consoles’ pricing and release dates. While multiple sources have suggested E3 unveilings, more recent rumblings suggest the new Xbox and PS4 could see the light of day as early as March, with an Apple-style media event said to be planned for its big reveal. Either way, we’re bound to know all by E3 in June.
We’ll then see and hear more leading up to release, with October and November being the most likely candidates.
As for pricing, it’s been suggested the hardware will retail for $350 to $400 in the US (£217 to £248), a price point similar to the original Xbox 360’s launch tag of $399 in 2005, but is lower than the PS3’s $499 and $599 price in 2006.
How powerful will the consoles be?
Developers who claim to have gotten their hands on both machines recently told VG247 that the new Xbox will have a run capacity of 1.23 teraflops backed up by 8GB of RAM, 3GB of which is dedicated to the operating system, apps and security, with the rest for games.
A Radeon HD 8770 GPU will serve as the system’s graphics chip, which should be good enough to run the upcoming Unreal Engine 4.
By comparison, the PS4 is said to feature a quad-core AMD APU Solution processor, an AMD 8000 series GPU and between 2 and 4GB of GDDR5 under the hood, but the big news concerns its rumoured run-capability of 1.84 teraflops, almost 50% greater than what has been listed for the new Xbox.
However, the next-gen Microsoft machine may have the PS4 outgunned on the RAM front, with the Sony machine supposedly packing 4GB, 1GB of which is reserved for the operating system.
How is this hardware different from previous consoles? The chips and graphics cards are high-end PC hardware, but ones that are readily available off the shelf.
This is also great news for developers, since the architecture is already familiar to what they know. Traditionally consoles have had specially-designed chips, such as the PS3 and the Cell processor, which have been difficult to port to.
What kind of games can we expect during the next console generation?
While we have no idea which launch titles to expect on the PS4 and new Xbox, there are a host of announced titles yet to be assigned platforms.
Although the return of long-running blockbuster series such as Call of Duty and FIFA is a certainty, confirmed sequels that could land in the new era include Battlefield 4, Mass Effect 4 and Dark Souls 2.
Then there are mouthwatering original properties such as Watch Dogs, Bungie’s Destiny and Star Wars 1313 looking for homes, so we’re in for quite a year regardless of what Sony and Microsoft have in store for us.
New Xbox BluRay, Xbox Tv and Skype
Kinect 2.0, cutting-edge 3D technology and the long-rumoured Xbox TV service were among the headline features listed for Xbox’s new hardware, said to be six times more powerful than the Xbox 360. A Blu-ray optical drive, “always online” technology, and “Xbox experiences served up from the cloud” by 2015 were also mentioned.
The 3D functionality will allegedly be added post-launch over WiFi and later 4G. A set of Kinect 3D Glasses, in development under the codename of Fortaleza, may be sold separately.
Rumours concerning the system’s built-in software suggest that Skype will have a major role to play, where the communication software will be used in place of Xbox Live voice chat, a move that would make sense considering Microsoft is gradually making Skype its default comms service across all of its platforms.
New Xbox: Kinect 2.0 and IllumiRoom
Kinect 2.0 will reportedly launch with the console, featuring improved tracking, dedicated processing and with better play space and high definition. The new next-gen motion system is highly likely to tie in with IllumiRoom technology Microsoft showcased at CES 2013.
IllumiRoom projects images onto the walls surrounding the user’s television set and makes them an extension of the screen, an effect it achieves through the use of a Kinect sensor and a projector. The Fortaleza glasses will be used to add depth to objects and environments projected onto the walls, taking the gaming experience to immersive new heights.
Screen test images of Kinect 2.0 have already found their way onto Twitter, confirming that the new motion tech will be accurate enough to pick up individual finger detection. Previous speculation suggests it will be able to lip-read and gauge the player’s mood too.