With Nintendo’s Wii U now on store shelves (assuming you can actually find one), a lot of talk is moving towards the next generation of consoles from Microsoft and Sony. The latest rumour suggests we’ll be seeing two versions of Microsoft’s next console (reportedly to be known simply as Xbox) revealed some time in 2013.
We’re not talking Deluxe and Basic or Premium and Core, we’re actually talking about two completely different consoles. The first console is reported to be the console we’ve been waiting for: next-generation graphics coupled with Kinect 2.0 and improved audio, alongside Halo 5, if all goes well. The other console, however, is said to aim squarely at the causal gaming market and be designed as a set-top box that also happens to play games.
The latter console would fit right in alongside products like the Boxee Box, allowing users to stream content from services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, and of course, the Xbox Video Store. Bing Search would also be built-in if we had to guess, as well as access to Xbox LIVE Arcade titles from the 360 and next Xbox.
We’ll assume this lower-end Xbox Next will actually come without a disc drive and be totally download-only, but with somewhere around 32GB of memory built-in for downloading games and movies. You can hook up a standard 360 or Xbox Next controller to it, but it’ll only come with a remote in the box to keep the price below $200.
This approach makes a lot of sense in terms of Microsoft slowly going after the casual market as well as the set-top box market. They are directly competing with Nintendo and Sony in the non-gaming space, as well as going head-to-head with other competitors in the market.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out as we’ve never had two consoles launch at the same time (from the same manufacturer). However, with Microsoft clearly going after the casual gaming market (assuming everything turns out to be true), it may see a threat from Ouya and the casual games of Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U.
Games will almost certainly have to be designed for Xbox, however, if the folks in Redmond follow in Ouya’s footsteps, it would actually make more sense that games would be available for Windows 8 and the next Xbox alike. This would not only boost the app numbers in the store, but provide more value for people buying a game on one device or another.
It is also worth noting that there have been rumours popping up about a Wii mini console that might hit shelves before the year is up. While we think it is unlikely, the rumoured console is said to be a square shape, cutting about a third off the length of the console and trimming the price down to about a hundred dollars. It will come with a Wii Remote, nunchuk, and sensor bar, but will not support GameCube titles. For two hundred bucks more, you could just buy a Wii U, but if this happens, Wii might have a bit more life left. At a penny under a Franklin, Wii mini could become the stocking stuffer of 2012.