Exclusive: Next Xbox to have Backwards Compatibility, 10 Year Lifespan
Yesterday we gave you some early details on Microsoft’s follow up to Kinect. Today we’ll focus more on their follow-up to the Xbox 360, codenamed “Yukon”.
First, lets talk backwards compatibility. Companies have tried backwards compatibility going all the way back to the Atari 7800, but it didn’t really become a big selling point until the PS2. All three consoles from this cycle implemented it in some fashion, with varying degrees of success.
According to documents seen by Nukezilla, the next Microsoft console will have hardware based backwards compatibility (here after referred to as “BC” in an effort to ward off carpel tunnel syndrom) as opposed to the spotty software based BC from the Xbox 360. In the documents, Microsoft acknowledges that BC is a big concern among consumers, especially early in the console cycle. What’s interesting is the number they have from market research done leading up to the launch of the Xbox 360. While BC was a major factor for US and German gamers, it was much less so for gamers in the UK and Japan. It was a noticeable factor in all regions, but the numbers varied by as much as 20 percent.
The troubling thing about Microsoft’s focus on hardware based BC is their reasoning for it: this way they can take it out easier. Although these are early planning documents, and sales/manufacturing costs/world ending catastrophes can easily change their minds, the documents make it clear that there is a plan to remove BC from the follow-up to the Xbox 360 as early as its third year on the market. They are aware that pulling BC support too early is an issue though, citing cases of BC Playstation 3s selling for highly inflated prices in ebay.
In other words, if you want your next Microsoft console to be able to play all your 360 favorites, you might not want to wait around for a price drop or redesign.
Although they may be planning on cheaping out on BC hardware post launch, at least it looks like you’ll be able to use whatever console you end up with for quite some time. Console lifespans in general have been gradually inching longer, and Microsoft hopes this next one will be the longest yet. Again, these are early planning documents, but they show a plan to keep the next Microsoft console competitive for a full decade. And that’s not really much of a stretch if you think about it. The 360 is just now really showing its age, and it’s going on its seventh year, most likely headed into an eighth before “Yukon” can establish itself.
One of they ways they hope to extend its lifespan is through extending their services to TVs and other electronics by integrating either bits and pieces of Xbox technology into them, or just embedding all the guts of the system in those devices. This is interesting, because the documents suggest that Microsoft is more worried about competing with Apple and Google in this market than Sony and Nintendo.
The battle is for the TV and while we have advantages with Xbox, exclusive content and LIVE service, the competition especially from Apple will be intense as they push less functional but considerably lower priced approaches.
After all, many newer TVs already come with apps for Netflix, Hulu, and other content services built in, and for those consumers who don’t have a set like this, there are dedicated boxes built for this type of streaming content. Microsoft know they want to compete for a market that could be the biggest change to TV since cable, and it damn sure won’t be Nintendo cornering the market on broader online services.
The Xbox Leak:
- Kinect 2: four players, two cameras
- Hardware back-compatibility dropped after 3 years, 10 year life-cycle
- Blue-ray drive built in, support for augmented reality glasses in the pipeline
- Announced Jan 2013, released holiday 2013 costing $200-$300
Disclaimer: The documents Nukezilla have seen come from a trusted source, and while we believe them to be accurate, and have done our best to verify them, we can not be absolutely certain. As such, consider this information more strong rumor than fact.