Predicting the Xbox One launch date

So we've got another leaked next gen console release date story to talk about. I originally wrote this post when the leaked date of November 8th was all we knew, but things move fast this close to a launch date and before I'd published the post, the rumor was unofficially debunked! So where does that leave us? Probably still in the dark, but let's see what we can shake out of this mess.

The original leak was printed Monday night at Kotaku. Last night Kotaku followed up with a second post that more or less retracted the first. So let's catch up.

The original story was that someone who works for a marketing company that in turn works with Walmart passed along an email that contained a list of midnight openings for the retailer. One of these is for Friday, November 8th and it's supposed to be for Xbox One.

The follow up was from an unnamed source "close to Microsoft" who told Kotaku the release date was later than November 8th but still in November. In theory, the original rumor could be correct and the debunking could be the red herring, but that's not likely.

Last week at Gamescom Microsoft was showing off the Xbox One dashboard behind closed doors, but they wouldn't allow anyone to film it because they say the dashboard is still a work-in-progress. There have also been (unsubstantiated) rumors that performance took a temporary hit due to some of the recent policy changes. Clearly work is still being done on the system, making an early launch less likely (though we do know that every Xbox One will have to connect to the Internet for a Day 1 patch and I'm sure they can push out a lot of fixes then).

In terms of supporting the original rumor, Microsoft let Sony announce the PS4 release date first, and what better reason to do that than to make sure the Xbox One is on store shelves ahead of the PS4? November 8th is exactly one week before the Playstation 4 launches and from that point of view the November 8th launch seems completely logical.

But let's assume that this rumor is off the table. So when will it ship? Black Friday this year is November 29th and I'm sure Microsoft doesn't want its customers fighting the door-buster mob trying to get their new Xbox One. The day before that, of course, is Thanksgiving in the US and the few days before Thanksgiving are big travel days. I don't think they'd launch any time that week.

November 15th is when the Playstation 4 launches. I don't think Microsoft wants to share the limelight with Sony, so I think that day is off the table.

So what's left? It could be earlier in the week of the 15th but I still think Microsoft needs as much time as it can get. I'm pretty confident we're looking at the week of November 18th-22nd. Tuesday (which would be the 20th) is the traditional 'game release day' but I think all bets are off for hardware. My guess is that they'll release on Friday, the 22nd. That gives them a week of distance from the PS4 launch and lets everyone get their shiny new Xbox Ones set up and purring like a kitten in time to show it off to family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday.

So that's my prediction: Friday, November 22nd. Think I'm wrong? Tell us why in the comments!

Oh! Before I close, one more bit of good news I heard, at least for those of us who prefer digital editions of our game. Xbox Wire announced 'Day One' content for three games coming to Xbox One: Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3. These 'Day One editions' each come with some kind of digital freebie, and are available from retailers via pre-orders while supplies last. But for us digital buyers? We can get the Day One editions as long as we purchase the games within two weeks of them launching. So thanks, Microsoft, for letting us in on the early adopter freebies!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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