January 18, 2013, 8:30 AM —
I don't know what got into the Internet yesterday, but someone seemed to decide it was videogame rumor day. And the best part is, it doesn't matter if you're a fan of Microsoft or Sony, there's a rumor that'll please you.
The Xbox contingent can head over to NowGamer to read about how the Xbox 720 will kick the Playstation 4's behind, calling out in particular a better image quality thanks to having three SoCs inside the box, while Sony will be focused on upscaling the PS4 images for 4K TVs.
You Sony fanboys, on the other hand, will want to go and read VG247 where you'll be happy to learn the PS4 will be 50% more powerful than the Xbox 720, though they don't really detail why. These guys say the PS4 will be called Orbis the the Xbox-favoring sources say it'll be called Omni. I'm fairly confident it'll be called the Playstation 4, aren't you?
So what does this all mean? I think for the most part it means that console enthusiasts are getting tired of their old systems and are hungry for details on the next gen.
The sources (none of whom are named, of course) claim to have gotten their info at CES, and maybe one of them did (clearly someone has the story completely wrong). With the Game Developers Conference still a couple of months off (it's at the end of March) and lot of column inches being devoted to Steam boxes and Android-based gaming systems during and after CES, I guess the traditional console guys needed something to draw attention to themselves. So maybe these are real leaks; we'll probably never know.
In fact if you're thinking maybe the era of the $400-$500 gaming console is behind us, you might enjoy VentureBeat's post A modern gaming ecosystem emerges, with Microsoft gone and Sony silent or Gamasutra's take on the situation, Console makers may have a case of innovator's dilemma. Both are interesting reads.
I don't have any inside information, but if I was forced to speculate I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that Microsoft will have a new console for holiday 2013, and it'll be a true successor to the Xbox 360: an expensive but powerful system that dazzles us with new graphic capabilities. Kinect will be tightly integrated, as will the various media services that make the Xbox something more than a game machine for many people. And I think plenty of Xbox owners will be happy to upgrade, particularly if the system ships with this "Go Big" functionality that's been making the rounds:
OK so maybe "Go Big" in the Xbox 720 is just wishful thinking on my part.
I'm much less sure of what's going on with Sony. Given their financial troubles and how much the Vita is struggling (and how much the PS3 initially struggled) I wouldn't be surprised to see them launch a more modest system, or just delay to holiday 2014. (Though a Sony VP recently implied there would be some kind of announcement for this spring.) If it's true that they're aiming for a 4K experience then there's really no need for them to launch in 2013 when only a small percentage of users will have 4K televisions. It would mean a huge change for them, but I think this time out Sony may try to compete on price. The new system will have tight ties to the Vita in an attempt to try to sell more of that system (using the Vita as a second screen). If they delay to holiday 2014 they can gives us more for less and that might help them compare favorably to the Xbox 720 and most definitely with the Wii U. But honestly I'm just guessing when it comes to Sony. They just announced a new white PS3 model that comes with a year of Playstation Plus. Is that significant in terms of a 2013 PS4 launch?
So while all of this was going on, Wii U owners got the bad news that four of the promised "launch window" titles (Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Game and Wario and Wii Fit U) now just have release dates of first half of 2013 (the launch window, as defined by Nintendo, ends on March 31st). On the other hand, Wii U owners have Rayman Legends to look forward to in February, and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Lego City: Undercover, Need for Speed: Most Wanted (along with a few other titles) in March. Hopefully there'll be something to tide gamers over until the next wave of Wii U titles arrives.
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.