The Xbox 720 – What to Expect From Microsoft in the Future

Sony had admitted that they’re already looking into the PS4, and Nintendo is undoubtedly working on the next Wii-type console — so what about the so-called ‘Xbox 720’? When EGM interviewed Peter Moore, the head of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business division, he let slip a little about the ‘Xbox 720’ (actual name still pending).

Moore said that the same team that made the 360 is working on the next-gen system, and they’re looking deeply into what kinds of processor will be available on the market in the next few years. That would mean that the 360’s projected lifespan will approach seven years, nearly doubling the tenacity of the original Xbox. He also said that the Xbox 360 will be supported ‘as long as it sold’, regardless of the 720’s actual production dates.

Microsoft lost more than a billion dollars launching the 360, and their decision to extend it’s lifespan is probably an effort to get more money out of the system before they experience another huge loss launching the Xbox 720. The 360 hasn’t been produced since October 2005, but sales are still strong, so the company is riding the profits for now.

There is one thing that must be asked about the Xbox 720 and the entire ‘next gen’ of game system: why? The current hardware has barely been pushed at all by the current batch of software available for it. Every single system has amazing hardware capabilities that are simply so far beyond the programming capabilities of most gaming firms that they’ve barely been touched. Producing another generation of even-better hardware when the software can’t keep up seems a little silly.

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Perhaps for this reason, many industry insiders believe that, at the minimum, Microsoft is going to wait until HD televisions become commonplace before releasing a new system: again, why add hardware that requires HD to be noticed when HD isn’t in every home in the country yet?

Robbie Batch, President of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft, said of the 360:

Our view is we will be selling Xbox 360 for a long time. We are always working on new technologies. We have people working on those. People ask me how many people I have working on the next generation. On the one hand, it’s everybody. On the other, it’s nobody. People are continuously working on new started thinking about the next generation before we shipped the Xbox 360. It doesn’t start with a date. It starts way upstream with silicon development. From that comes a series of data points. You start making early technology choices. It’s an evolving thing. Stuff doesn’t become concrete until you get inside a window of when you have to ship, more than 18 months or so out.

Late last year, reports surfaced that Intel is trying to sway Microsoft away from the AMD processors that currently power the 360, and get their own new chipset (codenamed Larrabee for reasons only Intel understands) into the Xbox 720. Intel has apparently offered Microsoft a very one-sided deal in order to wheedle itself into a strong relationship with the computing giant. If they succeed, you can expect to see a lot of ripple effects of that relationship in the future.

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