Despite being smack in the middle of the biggest holiday games season ever, some players can't help but look to the horizon in an effort to see what's coming next. Those very players have had quite a bit to ponder recently, thanks to a near constant stream of rumors and speculation about Microsoft's next game console, widely referred to as Xbox 720.
Many in the industry expect Xbox 720 to launch in the Fall of 2013. Recent suggestions that the hardware could be revealed at CES 2012 (less than two months from now) have analysts and players focused on what tech the next Xbox will be packing rather than the system's release date.
Reports have surfaced that the system will run Windows 9 and will be both smaller and cheaper at launch than the Xbox 360. But what kind of media will the games ship on, if any? Is it possible that Microsoft intends to make Xbox 720 a cloud-based console?
Speaking with Industry Gamers, analyst Jesse Divnich of EEDAR makes the case for Microsoft's next system equally supporting both physical media and digital distribution.
"The digital transition will be just that, a transition, and neither Microsoft nor Sony will force consumers to go 100% digital. The digital transition will ultimately be at the choice of the consumer and Microsoft and Sony will continue to support physical media until the mass market has reached the tipping point of acceptance on digital."
"I’d expect the Xbox 720, or whatever they choose to call it, will act as a true hybrid console, supporting both physical and digital media with the long-term hopes that they can provide enough incentive and value to accelerate that transition."
If the Xbox 720 is to be a "hybrid console," what does that suggest about its ability to stream games from the cloud, much like OnLive? After all, if Microsoft's next system is to be smaller and cheaper than the 360, it may move away from today's ever escalating hard drive sizes in favor of a cloud storage solution. Microsoft already has a powerful and successful infrastructure in Xbox Live, and OnLive VP of Engineering Joe Bentley has said on record that the service "would absolutely work" on Microsoft's current console.
In any case, it's tough to argue with the continued importance of physical retail stores, and physical copies of games -- just look at Modern Warfare 3's massive, record breaking launch, and the million and a half players who showed up at midnight events for proof. That said, if the Xbox 720 actually does manage to equally support physical and digitally distributed media, well... that could be something! Imagine being able to stream, say, Skyrim at 12:01 AM on launch day, no crowds, no patches, no waiting. Just playing. Sounds pretty good, don't you think?
Ranters, what do you think about Divnich's prediction that Xbox 720 will be a "hybrid console"? Do you still prefer physical copies of games, or are you ready to play from the cloud?
Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken
Source: Industry Gamers