While the Wii U is out in the wild and Sony's PS4 is pretty well detailed, we still don't know much about Microsoft's next Xbox. Other than it'll be called just that. We've heard hints that it won't be able to play second hand games, we've heard that it might be always on – and even had an employee rant and rave about this not being a problem – that the Kinect camera will be mandatory and that really, it may not even be as powerful as the PS4.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have Sony, which appears to be doing everything right. Like the Xbox rumours, we know the PS4 will come packing PC grade hardware, which will please developers, there's going to be sharing features through the roof with control sharing, streaming and the ability to upload to Youtube and other platforms within the games themselves. We've also heard from Sony higher ups that second hand games will be supported, which is a major plus point in the mind of most gamers.
We also know that Sony is putting a lot of thought into its launch titles – apparently – with plans to have a wide genre of games on day one. It won't just be shooters and racers, there'll be puzzle games, indie offerings, AAA experiences and more. Of course Microsoft could do the same, but for now we just don't know.
Now I'm not here to just brown my nose in Sony's direction, neither am I here to smash Microsoft because I don't like it, what I'm here to do is to take stock of the situation and consider what Microsoft would need to do to turn around the current situation – because until we hear otherwise, Sony is clearly the console of choice for the discerning next-gen gamer.
Ironically, one of the big things Microsoft looks likely to do, is get its hardware in-front of the cameras before Sony. While we've seen and heard a lot about PS4 capabilities, we have yet to see the console itself. This doesn't really make much of a difference theoretically, but in practice, we're all monkeys that like real-life shiny things, so if Microsoft shows us a cool looking console before Sony does, it could start to turn heads a little bit.
We know Microsoft is holding an event on May 21st, where it's expected we'll get our first look at the Xbox. This is a couple of weeks before the E3 expo, so we know that Microsoft has an opportunity to get itself front and center before it goes head to head with Nintendo and Sony. Chances are whoever has the best console showing on the day will ride on a wave of publicity while the others languish. At the moment, Sony will step into the arena as the top dog, but Microsoft has a chance to seize the initiative.
The other way Microsoft could recapture our imaginations, is with the reveal of something a bit different in May, beyond just the box itself and its own version of Watchdogs. One such tech could be IllumiRoom, which we've seen promotional renders of what it could look like, with the living room walls being taken over by in-game footage, expanding the game world beyond the TV screen.
There's also the potential for Kinect glasses, which could perform in a similar fashion to the Occulus Rift. If Microsoft nailed virtual reality (or at least he closest thing we have to it) with the Xbox, it could conceivably become the must-buy console of the next-gen.
Pricing is also the big IF with Xbox. Should Microsoft find a way, through subscription or otherwise, to undercut the PS4 – like it did with the Xbox 360 – then it could also drum up some much needed brownie points. It wouldn't be enough to turn the tide, but it would certainly help. However everything so far points to a pretty costly new system, around the $500 mark, with a secondary entertainment system built around the Xbox 360, coming in at just $99.
Partly it's thought that the secondary, far cheaper system, is to provide that much wanted backwards compatibility that the Xbox console, is not looking likely to have.
So guys, where do you stand on Microsoft's next-gen? Is it something you're looking forward to? Or like a lot of the gaming press, is it all really about Sony?
Of course PC trumps all of it. Who am I kidding? Nobody plays consoles right?