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Apro questo topic, nel quale inserirò tutti i rumor relativi alle nuove home console in arrivo nei prossimi anni.
Questo è un primo articolo:
Questo è un primo articolo:
In a quiet news week, several months before the massive E3 event, rumours are starting to circulate about the next generation of Wii and Xbox consoles. While the manufacturers themselves are keeping quiet, everyone knows that hardware research and development is an ongoing concern that doesn't stop for a few years when a new machine launches.
We also know that the console industry usually works to a five-year cycles. Sure, the last generation was so hideously expensive for Microsoft and Sony, the duo have sought to hold off a generational leap by releasing new, slimmer versions of their machines, and by introducing motion control hardware. But progress is inevitable – and that looks to be all the evidence that game sites need to start speculating.
So we're overdue a refresh. But is one actually on the way? Let's take a look at the facts.
The rumour: That Nintendo will announce a follow-up to the Wii at E3 in Los Angeles this summer. The device will feature a Blu-ray drive, a quad-core processor and a built-in LED projector, presumably so you can project games onto a wall rather than relying on a large TV display. There are also murmours of 3D support.
The evidence: A lot of the information feeding this gossip comes from an IGN article posted last December, which gathers a range of vague and cryptic quotes from Nintendo personel and third-party developers about the possibility of a Wii sequel. The article includes a chart that shows how each Nintendo hardware iteration since the launch of the NES in 1985 has had roughly a five-year lifespan. And as the Wii was launched in November 2006, we're due a change-up.
Elsewhere, some sources have observed that a previous title in Nintendo's massively popular Zelda series – Twilight Princess – was released for both the GameCube and the Wii in a sort of cross-generational baton pass. And Nintendo has a new Zelda title, Skyward Sword, due for release this year. Could Big N be looking to try the same promotional trick twice? Charlotte Martyn, editor of unofficial Nintendo magazine Ngamer, reckons not, according to a quote on Tech Radar, but suggests that, "this year's E3 would seem the logical time for Wii's successor to be confirmed, given the dwindling release list for the current console".
The doubts: The Blu-ray, processor and projector details seem to come from an anime and manga news site named 3anime, which opens its new story by claiming that Nintendo has 'confirmed' a successor to the Wii. It hasn't – not even a bit – and that rather puts the rest of the information into question. Also, Nintendo has never filled its hardware with expensive cutting edge components, so Blu-ray players, quad-core processors and bespoke projectors would seem to be red herrings. As Time Magazine's Techland blog points out, "projected video doesn't seem to line up to the company's commitment to motion gaming. Standing in front of a projector would just make a big shadow."
The verdict: Forget the tech specs, that's utter conjecture. But it would make sense for Nintendo to announce Wii 2 this year, with a 2012 launch. The company can capitalise and build on the hype surrounding its 3DS launch, and with Wii sales falling, it can reconnect with its huge mainstream audience. "I'd be very surprised if Nintendo didn't make a hardware announcement at E3," says Tim Ingham, editor of game news site, CVG.
"Microsoft and Sony have aggressively moved into the space that Nintendo created, and it can't compete with hardware that's becoming outdated. And, of course, people just like to buy new shiny things, it gets as shallow as that. Wii is no longer new and shiny, it's not something that your broadsheet or lifestyle journalists want to write about."
But there's another factor that should be prompting Nintendo to go with an E3 announcement. Yesterday, CVG ran an interview with Christofer Sundberg, the co-founder of Just Cause developer, Avalanche. He argued very strongly that the next generation of consoles would not feature optical disc drives. It's a point Philip Oliver, co-founder of Blitz Games Studios, has made before: physical media is dead.
Sony is heading in this direction, both through the PSP Go and the recently announced NGP console, which will use flash memory cards, rather than discs. But Nintendo could well be in the best position to bring about the digital distribution revolution. As Ingham points out: "Nintendo is best positioned to go digital-only. It has a client base that's used to playing games on devices like the iPhone; its core uses are comfortable with downloading smaller games digitally and using these as their main source of play."
So, with a reasonably powerful Wii 2, boasting a strong digital download service and HD visuals (a must considering the huge rise in LCD TV sales since the Wii), Nintendo can shape the next-gen conversation without resorting to cutting edge hardware components.
The rumour: Microsoft is gearing up to announce a sequel to Xbox 360, widely nicknamed the Xbox 720 - you know, because that's two full revolutions. Or something.
The evidence: This one has come about due to a series of job listings on the Microsoft website (see Engadget), looking for hardware engineers, specifically Xbox-capable hardware engineers, to join a team that's currently, "defining and delivering next generation console architectures". That would very much appear to be the smoking gun of console rumour confirmation.
Also, developers seem to be openly discussing the prospect of new hardware – always a good sign that something is imminent. In that CVG interview with Christofer Sundberg, he said this on the subject of new Xbox hardware:
"It's actually quite an interesting subject for us – because when we worked on Just Cause 1, the Xbox 360 came out [at around the same time]. We had to do the 360 version in six months. It's an interesting place again right now, where the projects we're working on today might be coming out on [Microsoft's] next technology."
This reflects a comment made last year by Bungie community director Brian Jarrard who said the studio was planning its next title, "to potentially span multiple hardware generations."
The doubts: Okay, so Microsoft is clearly recruiting for its console R&D division; but we've already established that console manufacturers – by their very definition – continue to work on furture hardware throughout the lifespan of the previous product. Indeed, the fact that the team size is only just ramping up would suggest that we might have to wait a little while for the results. Also, Microsoft has stated very publicly, that it's supporting the Xbox 360 until 2015. Now, that doesn't mean we won't see a follow-up until 2015 (Sony is still selling the PS2 five years into the PS3 lifecycle), but it probably means Microsoft has until at least 2013 to start getting serious about a new machine.
The verdict: There's nothing really here to suggest that an announcement is imminent, and there was a major hardware launch last year: Kinect. "The rhetoric coming out Microsoft is largely, well, Kinect is your new console, it is the next generation," says Ingham. "That's fine and a good defensive position, but it's more about Microsoft's market growth than it is about technology."
However, there are some compelling arguments as to why Microsoft should be considering an upgrade. "There are developers out there who are keen to get their teeth into new hardware," says Ingham. "There was an interesting quote from Cevat Yerli, the boss of Crytek, who said that the console market has remained static for so long that the high-end PCs are effectively a generation ahead in terms of hardware. So it's little wonder that some teams are getting slightly restless. The in-house studios, especially, are probably thinking, 'we're sick of the same old hardware, we want something new'."
Developer pester power should not be overlooked here. It's crucial to the console manufacturers to have the best studios onside, and the best studios tend to be the ones with incredibly bright, ambitious coders who want to try themselves against bleeding edge hardware. Sony famously toured the world's most talented development houses in 1994 taking its PlayStation demos with it – the company knew it had to get the dev community interested before even thinking about consumers.
Of course, Xbox 360 is still selling, and Kinect is performing well with over 8m units sold. But then, there's no reason why Kinect shouldn't be compatible with the Xbox 720. Or whatever it will be called, whenever it is announced...
A bit more quiet at the moment. In an interview with Japanese site PC watch last month, Sony Computer Entertainment President Kazuo Hirai stated this about the PS3: "Every year, we reveal and release new features. That's why, we're not deliberating on a PS4 or a next generation machine, whatever you call it." (Kotaku has a translation here). R&D is certainly continuing on PS4, but the company is adamant that it's concentrating on PS3 and NGP this year.