The next generation of gaming consoles is on its way, with Nintendo‘s Wii U leading the pack and Sony and Microsoft sure to be not far behind. Although the Wii U does seem a bit closer to a definite release date, it appears as though the competition may already be getting ready for the next stage of the console wars. Microsoft in particular looks to be gearing up for next-gen, as there is now a rumor circulating that the hardware for their next console is being manufactured now.

Despite the company saying they will not announce a new console at E3 this year, the company that manufactured the original Xbox console and assembles Xbox 360 hardware, Flextronics, is believed to be making the hardware for the next Microsoft console – codenamed Durango – in Austin, Texas. Prior to full manufacturing, the company apparently made a separate bactch for the purpose of marketing feedback, and testing both hardware and software for a new console.

A source close to IGN claims that testers were only given development kits, which are consoles designed solely so the testers wouldn’t know what they were using. Therefore, no tester present would be able to leak any information regarding the true console.

Flextronics has yet to comment on this rumor, so there’s still plenty of room for speculation. Nevertheless, it does seem likely that Microsoft would commission the company to begin making the hardware if they plan to release the console within the next year or so, if the stories about a release date are to be believed. That, and given just how powerful the Durango will supposedly be, it would be prudent to begin creating the hardware as soon as possible, just to be prepared.

Microsoft themselves have not confirmed or denied the rumor, though they did release the following statement:

“Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend its lifecycle like introducing the world to controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention. Beyond that we do not comment on rumors or speculation.”

Do you think the Durango is being developed right now? In what ways will it surpass the 360?

Source: VG247, IGN