Less than a month ago, Microsoft confirmed that it will continue to support the Xbox 360 through 2016. It may seem a little early to start thinking about the projected lifespan of the 360’s successor, but Microsoft already has a length of time in mind for the Xbox One’s journey.
During the Eurogamer Expo keynote address, Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison explained that the Xbox One’s launch on November 22 will kick off the platform’s “more than 10-year journey.”
Using a range of new features and services, including the ‘cloud,’ Microsoft plans to support the Xbox One for more than a decade. Harrison went on to reiterate that Microsoft has 300,000 dedicated servers (a number Braid developer Jonathan Blow calls a “lie,” claiming them to be virtual servers and not dedicated) ready for the launch of the new console. The army of servers will be used to support multiplayer features, cloud processing, and various networking services.
Consumers who shell out around $500 for the Xbox One come November will hopefully be able to rely on the console for the duration of its life cycle. During the current console generation, far too many 360 owners ended up going through two or more systems after falling victim to the infamous “red ring of death.” Microsoft plans to save consumers from similar hardware malfunctions by equipping the Xbox One with new features that attempt to prevent the console from frying beyond repair if it overheats.
According to Harrison, Microsoft will continue improving and updating the Xbox One throughout the next decade. The ‘cloud’ features will play a big role in the evolution of the console. The ‘cloud’ may be limited to things like Forza 5’s Drivatar feature at the console’s launch, but Harrison anticipates it becoming a key factor in AI and other processes in coming years.
If the evolution of digital game distribution is as much of an “unstoppable force” as the Microsoft corporate VP believes it will be, then the potential for a console to remain cutting-edge for a decade does seem possible. The idea of getting ten years of use out of the Xbox One could help hesitant consumers justify the $500 price tag.
The goal of a decade-long life cycle for the Xbox One is an indicator of the continued trend of longer breaks between console generations. The gap between the original Xbox’s release and the release of the Xbox 360 was only four years. When the Xbox One comes out in a few months, it will have been exactly eight years since consumers first got their hands on the Xbox 360.
Time will soon tell whether or not today’s hardware will be able to keep up with the kind of games that developers will be ready to produce eight or nine years down the line. If the consoles aren’t able to offer the most cutting-edge gameplay experience, it’s likely that more and more fans will turn to PC alternatives. Thanks to Valve’s recent announcements, the transition into PC gaming is about to be easier than ever.
Do you intend to get ten years out of your next-gen console?
Xbox One releases on November 22, 2013.
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