The Major Nelson blog, official publication of Microsoft's (News - Alert) Director of Programming for Xbox Live Lawrence Hryb, has recently added a new feature: a countdown clock running to this year's E3. But as is generally the case with developments like these, many are already wondering if there's an ulterior motive involved with this countdown clock. Are we really counting down to the 2013 E3? Or are we counting down to a major Microsoft release like the Xbox 720?
The countdown clock, which stands at just a little over 158 days, is counting down to the millisecond until E3 launches. But given that the entirety of the blog post is the countdown clock, a link to the E3 expo event itself, and the cryptic phrase "And it's on...", it's fueling speculation that Microsoft may have something particularly special to show off at this event. Not surprisingly, the direction most speculation is going is in the direction of the Xbox 720, a device that's been long-rumored and perhaps even longer-awaited.
The rumor mill has been going full tilt on this subject for some time now, with the current general consensus pointing to an E3 unveiling ahead of a holiday season 2013 launch. Some believe the device will use a download-only format for its games, while others believe it will incorporate a Blu-ray capability. An improved version of Kinect is expected with this, as well as a substantial eight-core processor, though even that's come under fire more recently with a tipster suggesting a 1.6 GHz processor. Some even go so far as to suggest there will be two versions, one less expensive and one fully featured.
Image via http://majornelson.com/
Exact information on this front, meanwhile, is still unclear, and likely will be until, at the very least, that countdown clock has ticked down a lot more days. While leaks are likely ahead of the big unveiling--they may well have already happened--it's going to take full official word to make them all crystallize. That's not going to happen until that clock finishes, and potentially, not even then.
Still, one thing is perfectly clear: the Xbox 360 is aging. While we value age in people as a sign of wisdom, maturity and experience, age in hardware is generally not so favorable. We have likely seen the limits of what the Xbox 360 platform can do, and with a slim number of new games set to arrive in the near future, it's a fair bet that everyone's holding back for the launch of the new system. Given that Nintendo has already brought out its next-gen console in the Wii U, and Sony is out waiting in the wings to snatch market share from Microsoft, it's a safe bet that Microsoft will want to release its system as soon as possible, and holiday shopping seasons are a great time for new releases.
Only at the bottom of that countdown clock will we get to the bottom of the story, but chances are there will be a new game system waiting on the other side of that clock.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman