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Microsoft: Xbox 360 May Not Even Be At Mid-Cycle Yet
Microsoft: Xbox 360 May Not Even Be At Mid-Cycle Yet
January 11, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

January 11, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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    18 comments
More: Console/PC



It's clear that the current console cycle is shaping up to be longer than any previous, as major platform holders Sony and Microsoft get ready to roll out motion control tech they hope will extend the lifecycle.

Sony's known for having always expressed its commitment to the long-haul, shooting for the same ten-year lifecycle for the PlayStation 3 that it saw with the PlayStation 2. Now Microsoft is now more boldly asserting its commitment to the Xbox 360 for as far as the eye can presently see, in new comments from CES reported by the UK Guardian.

"I think it's important to say that the Xbox 360 is the console of the long future for us," senior director of Xbox product management David Hufford said. "There is no need to launch a new console, because we're able to give this console new life either with software upgrades or hardware upgrades like Project Natal."

"The Xbox 360 was designed for a long life, and I don't even know if we're at the midpoint yet," Hufford added -- noting that the company had no plans to enhance or update the Xbox 360 with the kind of hardware streamline that benefited Sony with its less-expensive PS3 Slim.

"We love our prices right now," said Hufford. "I don't want to say that technology stops, but...we think we're in a good place now heading into the Natal era."

During Microsoft's CES address, exec Robbie Bach confirmed that the motion-sensing Natal interface will release later this year.


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Comments


Konstantin Yavichev
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360 needs to be updated. GPU and CPU might be ok for now, but could use an upgrade, since PCs are far superior now.



But some of other things need to change soon; for example: wireless, power supply block, Bluray, noise reduction.



They could make 540 or 360s that will run all of the 360 games and maybe open room for exclusive content. iPhone does this with 2G,3G vs 3Gs, so why can't xbox do that?

Joshua Sterns
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The 360 could use some upgrades, but I don't think they are necessary at this point. If anything is changed, then I hope it is like Konstantin's suggestion. Can we had a 1tb hdd to the 540 list?



I don't think a new console would sell in the current market. The HD consoles just keep getting more affordable, and people like that in a recession. In my humble opinoin there won't be a major push for new consoles until 3D and Motion tech have developed a demand/market for more powerful technology.

A W
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If Natal comes bundled in new Xbox360 at a 100 dollar mark up, I can't see the future of Xbox continuing to compete in the gaming space, and we could see sales decline, until a price drop. This is an assumption, but Microsoft does need to find a way to streamline their system specs to get a price drop in the event of Natal hitting the market. Truth be told Natal is not going to magically replace their current gaming space with some new way to play. It's probably not even going to eat the market share of the Wii either. So It may be a little presumptuous of any one from MS to come out and say we are NOT going to do "X", until "Y" has been plugged in to the equation.

Matt Watkins
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The Xbox 360 does have it's flaws though. I been a 360 owner for over 4 years and every console i have had has lasted about 12 months before it get the RROD or E74 message. They should update the console but have it play the same games.



Matt



www.bidzkrieg.com

Konstantin Yavichev
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Also, how much of a processing power does Natal require? Games like Borderlands are barely running on 360 (i have stuttering when lots of stuff is going on), add Natal overhead and what will happen then?

Alistair Langfield
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Theoretically I can't see any issue with an Xbox 360 Mk II which has a better GFX card so perhaps even older games look better on it. Perhaps any techies here could confirm?



I am playing my PC much more in the last year simply because even on my mid range rig I can play the same games at over twice the resolution with full AA and additional FX. My 360 games look very grainy by comparison, for example I have GTA4 on 360 and PC, and the PC version is so much more immersive because of the added detail. I can say the same also for Mass Effect and Dragon Age.



So whilst I agree the 360 has a lot of life in it yet, there is surely an argument that a graphical update should be on the cards, since many of the games don't run natively at full 1080p on console.

Adam Flutie
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I have a feeling this Natal business isn't going to give them the boost they expect it will have. A repackaging and case remodeling doesn't require and entire console release, but would at least give the brand a 'freshness' boost it needs. But if we aren't mid-life in the console and they aren't planning some pack-in bonuses for new purchasers I think they are being too optimistic about the life expectancy...

Andrew Schiffbauer
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Natal is a MEH, a stupid publicity stunt. I do agree that the consoles aren't going anywhere for a while though, there's still so much more we can do with the current technoligy and no large scale innovations or technoligy jumps to kepe up with,

Andrew Grapsas
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GHA!!! I just want more memory on the 360 and PS3, that's it! Simple. I'm cool with the processing power (even though we've maxed that out) and the GPU's (even though we've maxed those out); but, man, having more memory would be AWESOME!

David Delanty
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From a development standpoint, I don't think now is the time to start introducing new consoles. Considering the economy, the amount of money to produce a game, how much a gamer is willing to spend on a title, and how much money a title can make, it just doesn't make sense. There's no point to open the door for even more powerful consoles, when development studios are already breaking the bank to make games that go only halfway to utilizing the power of the current-gen consoles.



There are only 24 hours in a day, only so much content a studio can make, only so much a gamer is willing to pay, and only so long a gamer will wait for their title. As we see with the success of games on the iPhone, PSN, and Xbox360 Arcade, it's clear that the direction of console gaming isn't 'more power' but 'more accessibility.'

Doug Poston
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"They could make 540 or 360s that will run all of the 360 games and maybe open room for exclusive content. iPhone does this with 2G,3G vs 3Gs, so why can't xbox do that?"



Because it would split their market, which rarely helps (see DSiWare and Playstation Mini for examples).



Better for Microsoft to reduce product cost, and get the 360 into more homes.

Konstantin Yavichev
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I was thinking more of a iPhone model actually than DSiWare or Minis. Because new version would sit one step above Elites and would offer more, but still be essentially a 360. All 360 games would work on it, and newer games would have extra features that would enable once they detect that they are running on newer hardware, similar to some iPhone games and apps. I know it adds complexity to the whole thing, but I have 360 now and I would buy a new one if it came with wireless, bluray, quieter drive, optical audio... More power would be nice too...



I wonder what is the requirement for the iPhone developers regarding support for older models. I wonder that is regulated. But, I think it is proven that iPhone/Apple model with yearly upgrades works.

Andrew Schiffbauer
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They just need to focus on making smaller 360's with more memory and less -HEAT- to match the new sleeker slim.



@Konstantin Yavichev

Blue Ray on the 360 is exceedingly unlikly as that's Sony's pet tech, that would be tantamount to stepping on a PR landmine. Compatability with wireless routers would be neat but hardly worth a new console... Totally agree about the drive though.

Randall Theil
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As a twenty year old with a part-time job, nothing would make me happier than not having to look at new consoles for five more years, but there's no way the 360 and PS3 are less than halfway through their lifespans. The tech gap between the PC and consoles is widening as it is. I expect new consoles in 2012.

Andrew Grapsas
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Blockbuster releases barely care about PC. In fact, most publishers have a view that PC is a dying beast.



That being said, I'm hoping the long console cycle will reinvigorate PC game development on a tripe-A scale.

James Hofmann
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The long cycle is a good thing, overall, because it indicates that we've finally reached the point where we're bottlenecked by the scale of development, rather than the market size.



That means we can't justify throwing more people at a project to make it better - a practice which is both inefficient and also acts to disproportionately favor the largest companies with the biggest budgets. Productivity improvements will take precedence, instead, as those things will allow smaller projects to do more with less. In the long term that benefits everyone - a reduction of project costs makes games less risky to make, in general, and allows more creativity.

Marco Devarez
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Next console cycle more PC like (in architecture) thus scalable/upgradeable mid-cycle???

and to Konstantin's point, versions of games that carry either extra or improved content. The high density media has the room for extra data if any...

maybe 1080p and DD/DTS sound the standard but higher resolutions (oh yeah the TV limit) or 3D and other sound options (7.1 lossless) available to those who wish to upgrade.

Luis Guimaraes
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The current development costs are just too high, it would be insanity to push it further. It's really time to keep with some technology and improve development and game design. In the Natal case, I more want a plugin to use it in ZBrush than exactly see it in games. It has huge potential, but I'm skeptic until I see somebody doing a good job putting it in games.



Another push I would just love was seeing more casual / focused mechanics and shorter-cheaper titles with current gen engines. And last, if the current GPUs can re-draw/paint/rotoscope/style-filter a game scene in 60fps, making my game look as a rotoscopy movie or actual painting, I won't ask for more graphical realism in games. Concept artwork looks far better than their resulting games. I know "A Scanner Darkly" a LOT of work, but when will we have games doing so, the current cell-shaders look aweful enough to make realistic graphics seem to be better.


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