Call it the week of the next-gen console.
Yesterday, Sony released a teaser video for the PlayStation 4 (although the video, as we noted, was blurry enough to make us wonder if we need glasses). Today, Microsoft has officially unveiled the Xbox One – the voice-powered, Kinect-enhanced, Blu-ray- and Skype-equipped successor to the Xbox 360.
"With Xbox One, games push the boundaries of realism, and TV obeys your commands," Microsoft reps wrote in a press release today. "Say 'Xbox On' to launch your personalized Xbox One Home screen, discover what is popular on TV or see friends’ latest gaming achievements all using the most natural interface – your voice. The more you interact with Xbox One, the more it gets to know you and learns what you like."
A console that is also your best friend! Sounds a little frightening. Here's some other points we know about the Xbox One: It will get a 500GB hard drive, 8GB of RAM, a whopping eight-core processor, a pair of HDMI ports, and a "deep and rich liquid black" finish with a "distinctive beveled edge." And it will ship with a range of titles, including Call of Duty: Ghosts and FIFA 14.
No word yet on exact release date, but you should probably expect a fall launch, which would allow Microsoft to take full advantage of the holiday shopping rush.
The launch event today out in Redmond – it was broadcast live around the world – was certainly pretty star-studded. JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Bill Gates all made cameos, and Mr. Spielberg confirmed that he would work on a TV series, based on the Halo franchise, for the Xbox One.
"For me, the Halo universe is an amazing opportunity to be at that intersection where technology and myth-making meet to create something really groundbreaking," Spielberg said.
But back for a second to the Sony PlayStation 4, the Xbox One's primary competitor.
As Chris Kohler of Wired points out today, the two machines do have something very important in common: Neither will be backward compatible with games from the current generation of consoles. So not only will your Xbox 360 or PS3 discs grow obsolete (unless you keep multiple boxes hooked up to the TV), "your seven years’ worth of digital game purchases made over the Xbox Live Marketplace won’t function on the new machine," Kohler writes.
That stings a little.
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