Microsoft is mooting big things for Xbox at E3 – the Xbox 360 that is. Almost eight long years into its evergreen life cycle, the current-gen console is set for an almighty swansong when the event rolls around on June 11th. Company VP Phil Spencer spoke to the gaming press earlier this week, outlining his vision for the future of the current market leader, as well as its continued potential to surprise.
Spencer states “I think the [Xbox 360] is going to be very vibrant for many years, in fact, we have a huge announcement for E3 that I keep wanting to talk about, but I can’t.” So what might this “huge announcement” entail? Microsoft’s in-house honcho remains tight-lipped, but does go on to detail the stellar success achieved by Minecraft’s belated 360 release, perhaps hinting at another mega-bucks port in the offing.
Whilst an appearance from World of Warcraft remains as unlikely as ever, another MMORPG might just suit Microsoft’s needs to a tee. Offering great longevity and an additional source of income to boot, the only downside to the endeavour would appear to be Microsoft’s less-than-frequent approach to patching. User-interface issues aside (Dragon Age: Origins, Halo Wars, and the upcoming Diablo 3 all successfully sidestepped the mouse and keyboard conundrum) all that remains is the perennial question over cross-play integration, something Microsoft would more than likely solve through segregated servers.
Speaking of servers, the original Xbox featured Live support for 5 years following its successor’s release, eventually pulling the plug on the system in early 2010. That unceremonious shutdown effectively gutted the multiplayer elements from every pre-360 release, an outcome that, if repeated, could prove twice as controversial come 2019.
Sadly, for all of Phil Spencer’s enthusiasm, history isn’t exactly on the side of the Xbox 360. Obsolete consoles, such as the PlayStation 2, tend to stay afloat by tapping into new, ‘high-tech hand-me-down’ markets: the type opened up by a sudden jump to the next-generation. By offering broader, more iterated experiences, from yearly sports titles to party games, many publishers hope to capitalize on these ailing systems’ wide user-bases, though the results are seldom “vibrant” or pretty. Omni-publisher EA has already thrown in their lot with this ‘twilight years‘ Xbox.
With the likes of Batman: Arkham Origins and Destiny still to grace the system’s aging architecture, the 360 certainly appears to be in rude enough health for the moment, though whether the same can be said a year from now is an entirely different matter. We’ll find out what Microsoft still has planned for the Xbox 360 at E3 2013 in just a few weeks.
Sources : GameSpot, Microsoft Game Studios