It’s almost time for a new Xbox.
Eight years have passed since Microsoft unveiled the Xbox 360, double the amount of time between the original Xbox debut in 2001 and its high-definition successor’s launch in 2005. With the next-generation Xbox expected to be revealed Tuesday, anticipation for the entertainment console’s latest evolution is higher than Master Chief’s spaceship.
“People get excited about new consoles because consoles represent the future,” said Stephen Totilo, editor of gaming site Kotaku.com. “When you buy a new console, you’re essentially investing in five years of your future in the hopes that this box won’t just be cool the day you buy it, but in five years from now, it will be even cooler.”
The platform has been the exclusive home to such popular gaming franchises as sci-fi shoot-’em-up “Gears of War,” racing simulator “Forza” and first-person shooter “Halo,” starring super-soldier Master Chief. In recent years, Microsoft expanded the console’s scope beyond just games, adding streaming media apps and the family-friendly Kinect system.
The next generation of gaming already got off to a rocky start last November when Nintendo launched the Wii U, the successor to the popular Wii system featuring an innovative tablet-like controller yet graphics on par with the Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3. Nintendo said it sold just 3.45 million units by the end of March, well below expectations.
Microsoft likely will take aim at Sony during Tuesday’s next-generation Xbox unveiling at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash. Sony was first to showcase plans for its upcoming PlayStation 4 — but not the actual box — at an event in New York last February. The reaction to that console, which featured richer graphics and more social features, was mixed.
Totilo said to wow gamers with the next Xbox, Microsoft must show off great games for it that players will crave, as well as technology that feels futuristic. He said there’s concern from Xbox fans that Microsoft has lost interest in hardcore gamers with its recent efforts to attract casual gamers with the Kinect, its camera-based system that detects motion.