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Microsoft Confirms Work Begun on Next Xbox 192

Via 1up, an interview with Chris Lewis, head of Xbox Development in Europe. Along with some interesting discussion of X06 and aiming games at European markets, Lewis confirms what most people could reasonably expect: Microsoft is already hard at work on the next Xbox system. From the 1up article: "'You can't sit back on your laurels in this business - the consumer won't let you, the developers certainly won't let us. So that's happening right now,' ... In order to remain competitive, hardware manufacturers have to start thinking about the next cycle the moment work finishes on the current one. Ideas for the following generation were likely generated during the development of Xbox 360, and you can surely bet the same situations cropped up in the R&D rooms of Sony and Nintendo while working on PlayStation 3 and Wii."
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Microsoft Confirms Work Begun on Next Xbox

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  • by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <tzzagem>> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:41PM (#16472661) Homepage

    The XBox 360 is ALREADY outdated? :P

    I mean really, I don't want to buy a console that I know is just going to be replaced so soon.

    • Just because they're working on the new system, doesn't mean that it's coming out soon. They could be working on something they're planning on launching in 2010 (although 2009 is more likely, given previous cycles). And, like the article states, don't think for a second that Sony and Nintendo aren't already doing some development of the PS4 and Wii2 or whatever. (WiiII?)
      • by Kuukai ( 865890 )
        (although 2009 is more likely, given previous cycles)
        Which is sad, since by Sony and Nintendo's cycles the PS4 and Wiii are expected 2012. By Microsoft's record, the Xbox 450 will come out the year HD-TVs actually become the standard in the U.S... What was the point of the 360?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bandman ( 86149 )
          What was the point of the 360?

          To take consumer money. Any way you look at it.
          • No, to "lay platform foundation." You have to see this from the Microsoft marketing department's perspective, because they control the company (Ballmer himself is a marketing guy). In other words, XBox 360 exists to extend the Windows platform and technologies into the living room (both XBoxes ran a variant of Windows and DirectX). Just like the Zune, which exists to extend the Windows platform and technologies into the digital media market.

            If you examine everything Microsoft does using this perspective,
            • by Bandman ( 86149 )
              It all boils down to taking consumer money. Not that it's to be unexpected. That should be the goal of every profit-seeking company.
      • You are right, however, I don't really trust Microsoft, and neither do a lot of other people, especially since they were last to market the first time around, and first to market the second time around. It's kind of worrisome, that they may disrupt the market further by releasing a new console before the end of hte decade.

        Microsoft has a habit of engaging in, and winning, development warfare. They cut life cycles down over repeated offerings to drive development costs up and reduce the profitability of th
        • You know, until PC video card manufacturers can start releasing no more than one new $500 video card each every year, I think gamers should consider releasing a $400-500 game console every 4-6 years quite reasonable.
    • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:47PM (#16472761)
      You're new to this whole "buying technology" thing... aren't you?

      If it's not obsoleted within 5 years by new technology it's not technology, it's an small appliance.
      • > If it's not obsoleted within 5 years by new technology it's not technology, it's a small appliance.

        That's brilliant.
        It should be a MOTD on /.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by also-rr ( 980579 )
      While the plural of anecdote is not data I have seen some evidence here that Microsoft may have released the 360 too soon. It's viewed (particuarly after the fact that the original Xbox was almost a non-entity in the UK market) as a generation 2.5 console no matter how innacurate that label may be.

      In fact the only real 'generation 3' console as far as the UK market is concerned seems to be the PS3, the Wii being a popular choice but more viewed as a toy than a games machine (which may not be a bad thing)
      • While the plural of anecdote is not data...
        In fact [emphasis added] the only real 'generation 3' console as far as the UK market is concerned seems to be the PS3...

        Data, facts...What's the difference?
      • the Wii being a popular choice but more viewed as a toy than a games machine

        Now come on, that's the oldest flame in the book. Whether or not you prefer to call consoles a toy or not, the Wii really isn't much of a different product than the PS3, especially since Sony have adopted motion-sensing technology.

        Therefore the PS3 is, as a function of purchasing parity, 1.6 times less expensive than in the US.

        Yeah, right. Nice logic you have there.

        Certainly $500 for a games console isn't a big deal for most affluan

        • by cascino ( 454769 )
          Now come on, that's the oldest flame in the book. Whether or not you prefer to call consoles a toy or not, the Wii really isn't much of a different product than the PS3, especially since Sony have adopted motion-sensing technology.

          The PS3 and Wii are substantially different. And not just in minor tech specs, but in the entire gaming experience. The PS3 is clearly a continuation of existing gaming paradigms with bigger, better, and faster hardware, plus some minor tilt inputs (which, in my understandi
      • by VJ42 ( 860241 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @04:32PM (#16476467)
        Certainly $500 for a games console isn't a big deal for most affluant UK households who will have two incomes of approx $40,000 each.

        Where abouts do you live? I don't think I know anyone that earns that much, and I consider my family middle class; we live in a nice area in a City in the South of England. I certainly couldn't afford to waste £500 ($800) on a console, and IIRC that's what the PS3 is being released for over here. If we had paraty of price i.e it was being released at around £300; I still couldn't could justify it at launch (March 2007 here for us). £200 (well £170+ 2 games)for a Wii at launch (Yes, I've been sucked in by the hype, and even have a Wii pre-order*), is the top price I'm willing to pay for any toy (all consoles are just expensive toys), be it from Nintendo, Sony or MS.

        *My brother even says I've become a Nintendo Fanboi; I dispute this. :)
        • Certainly $500 for a games console isn't a big deal for most affluant UK households who will have two incomes of approx $40,000 each.

          Where abouts do you live? I don't think I know anyone that earns that much,


          Whereabouts do you live? In a box on the street? $40,000 is only £21,000 at the current exchange rate. Most families should have an income of more than that.
          • by VJ42 ( 860241 )
            Yeah; I've only noticed that now you pointed it out; my mistake, I read that as £40,000, as opposed to $40,000.

            However, my broader point remains even at an income of a minimum of £21,000 you have to take away income tax, NI, Council tax and a million other various taxes; compared to the low tax rate of the USA add that to low prices in the US and our Net spending power isn't all that much greater than that of the average US family. £500($800) is still alot of money for a console, probabl
    • by aiken_d ( 127097 )
      How about if they promised to only start work on the next version six months before its release? Would that fill you with confidence?

      These things take many, many years to develop. Getting on them for early R&D work is really very clueless.

      -b
  • Standard practice (Score:4, Informative)

    by HarvardFrankenstein ( 635329 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:47PM (#16472763) Homepage
    This is nothing unusual. Both in games and in other areas of consumer electronics, even outside of electronics, once you've got a new product rolled out and selling, most companies will get to work on the next big thing. They have to. That new product that they just released isn't going to keeping selling forever. Eventually, customers are going to need something new to buy. The sooner you get started on it, the sooner you can give it to them.

    Not to mention, it's going to take Microsoft a good long time to finish designing their next XBox. Look at how down-to-the-wire things got with the 360, and look at how much Sony are struggling to get the PS3 out in a timely manner. They certainly wouldn't want to end up in that mess twice.

    • Thing is, no matter how far in advance you plan, you'll always be down to the wire if you plan to put the latest and greatest in. One reason why Nintendo's having no problems is they're mostly using off the shelf components.

      Those diodes have been a major stumbling block with the PS3, and before that, the Cell. Dunno what the XBox's problem was, but it had some shortage...
      • One reason why Nintendo's having no problems is they're mostly using off the shelf components.

        Off the shelf components? Nintendo is one of the THE most well known electronics companies for using the most MODIFIED components. Everything from processor, to motherboard, to the media is specially made. The only company that abused off the shelf components was the original Xbox and Microsoft admitted that was a rush job.

    • Now I know this is true, that it is standard practice for MS/Sony/Nintendo to be working on the next console generation as soon as they're done with the design of the last, but I don't quite get it.

      The basic recipe for a console is simple - take a CPU, a GPU, some memory, some storage systems, and add glue logic. Microsoft showed us that it was possible to put together a half decent console within a reasonably short space of time when they put out the XBox. The development time for the XBox360 was also fa
  • that'll show you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:47PM (#16472771)
    That'll show the people who said MS was only getting into the console business to milk people on the hardware treadmill!
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @12:52PM (#16472885) Homepage
    I think one thing is obvious about the next XBox: it won't have an optical drive. I would expect it to just have permenant storage (hard drive, possibly based on future technology) and use an internet conneciton to get games. We are getting close to there right now, so by the time the next XBox comes out in 4-6 years it should be well into prime-time for that. If MS can do as good a job with that as they have done with Live they will have a very nice package (assuming things continue as status quo).
    • by castlec ( 546341 ) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (celtsac)> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:08PM (#16473215)
      The problem is that it isn't so obvious. I saw a blurb earlier today (not sure if it was dig or dot) that said some PS3 devs have already hit the current 25GB limit of bluray discs. 25GB is a lot to be downloading today, and tomorrow's games will be even heavier. In smaller countries, roll-out of newer networking technologies can happen quickly, but that's not so in the US, the major target market. 25GB will still be a painful download for most of the target market in 4-6 years and you can safely assume that the size of games will not be 25GB by then. Optical will still be here unless they can come up with another removable storage that can compete with it in terms of price.
      • What's lame is games wouldn't have to be that big if development technology was as quickly outdated as the hardware we use.

        If the time and money were spent, you could have reliable, useable procedural techniques to deliver the next 'next gen' games and have them be what, a few hundred megabytes?

        Unfortunately developers focus on shoveling rehashed shit out the door to capitalize ASAP. That's what's wrong with the games industry. They spend more money on marketing than R&D. How many times has a game with
      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        tomorrow's games will be even heavier.

        I wouldn't be so sure about that, the reason is that in the future games will use more and more proceduraly generated data, so that instead of a few megabytes for a huge textures you simply use a few hundred bytes for parameter to generate that same data. Beside saving space this also has the huge advantage that it leads to better graphics, instead of textures getting all blury when watched up close, a procedural approach could generate finer and finer detail the clos

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
          But you can't generate cutscenes and CD quality audio with procedural techniques. This is why they are filling up the 25 GB. Although some of that 25 GB is due to larger textures, I would say that the majority of the space is being taken up by hi-res cutscenes and music. Look at Zelda, Ocarina of time. That game fit in 25 MB. The world was huge, and the game was great, but there were no cutscenes, and you had to read the text, not have it read to you. I'm not sure a lot of publishers are interested in
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by grumbel ( 592662 )

            But you can't generate cutscenes

            Cutscenes are for most part already realtime generated, they still take up some space, but much less then 1080p HD-TV. Filling 25GB with realtime generated cutscenes will take quite a while and probally not happen in any game ever, it simply is to expensive to produce.

            and CD quality audio with procedural techniques.

            You can fit like 70 hours of speech on a single DVD, most games hardly reach 10 hours of speech, so even with a DVD you should have plenty of space for your

      • by MBCook ( 132727 )
        Don't forget that not only will internet connections speed up, but there are other ways around this. Some content is duplicated on the disk to reduce the massive seek time. Plus there is the fact that you don't NEED the full content to play the game. Just download enough for the first level. Once you've got that you let them play. While they are playing level 1 you download the content for levels 2-x. Then you just continue this. Plus many games have a ton of audio on the discs. You can compress it (and mov
        • This is the wrong direction to be going, IMO. Not that episodic content by itself is bad, but that it seems to me that we'll end up with time-sensitive downloaded levels.

          So to play say GT6, you'd buy a car and a track, but because of the way the downloads are made, after a day or two, you'll need to swipe your credit card again if you want to play with the same card on the same track. I've already seen that on a few downloaded cheapy games, sure you can try them, but after a set time, the game locks and

          • by MBCook ( 132727 )
            It's a good point that that model wouldn't work for GT or other racing games, but it would work well for BioShock, Fear, Quake 4, Doom 3, Pyschonauts, Katamari Damaci, Loco Roco, Sly Cooper, and many other big games.
        • Take a look at how Guild Wars works for a working example of 'streaming' content as needed. The installer fits on a floppy with room to spare.
      • In 4-6 years I don't see why flash memory couldn't compete with optical for software distribution.

        Back to cartridges!

        Other than cost, of course. Would be nice to go back to the days when consoles didn't have "Loading....." displayed all the time.
      • Why would you download all levels, surely it obvious you would only download each level as you complete one.
        Duhh!!!

        • by castlec ( 546341 )
          And you think load screens are irritating now? I can see it now, "Please wait while the next level is loaded from the slow external storage system." You cannot guarentee quality of experience that way.
    • While MS would probably love this, as a consumer, I would not like it. It would basically remove the ability to rent/trade/borrow/resell games. I'm also not confident that the sort of bandwidth that would be necessary will be common place everywhere. Especially if the amount of content in an average game continues to increase like it has been doing.

      I like going to the store, browsing the games, and reading the instruction manual on the ride home. Modern games tend to be too large for the "immediate gratific
    • I would expect it to just have permenant storage (hard drive, possibly based on future technology) and use an internet conneciton to get games.
      Unless by games you mean Solitaire and Minesweeper most consumers are not going to tolerate waiting several days to download massive next-gen games. Optical is not going no where not when--as reported earlier--devs have already claimed to have stuffed a 25GB Blu-Ray disc full of content and game data.
    • by GweeDo ( 127172 )
      Great idea, but it just won't happen. Lets assume that next-next-gen games are 25GB in size. With a modern internet connection in the US (say 6mbit down) that will take you around 12 hours. Now, we could see a Steam like pre-loading system and that would work well, but what about people that have the barebones intenet connection? I know a lot of people that only get 512Kbps down. So lets assume that. It would only take them around one week to get that great new game.

      This just doesn't seem practical ye
      • why does everyone assume games will get biggger. I bet that for all the games that are "maxing out" the 25gb BRs not one of them's game data is using any more than 8gb. The rest is just uncompressed or less compressed AV. On top of that Once Procedural synthesis of game environments starts to gain some foothold in the industry the game data sizes will be even less significant probably in the order of tens or hundreds of megabytes. On top of that, who says we need to download the entire game to start? All we
    • by rabbot ( 740825 )
      I would obviously have nothing to do with a console that I couldn't buy the physical copies of the game for.
    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
      So... Microsoft is buying out Phantom?
  • This just in, the new XBOX will undercut profits by so much, they will literally pay YOU to take one. of course, games will cost $10 per minute, so you'll pay them back many times over in the first hour of play.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by n0d3 ( 708403 )
      Makes one wonder how a departmen can rectify loosing 1.2B on a console and still try again a 3rd time.

      I don't remember the numbers on the original XBox, but the 360 seems to be in the minus 1.2billion.

      Sure Sony has a lot of money backing itself up too, but what company would stay competing loss after loss after loss. I guess someone REALLY wants to be a big player in the console market. I wonder how many chairs need to go flying about before they just give up...
  • Before the GameCube came out (before it was even called the GameCube) there were already plans underway for the underlying technology under the Wii's (Revolution's) hood. The power of the Playstation 3 was already demonstrated about the time that the PS2 hit the market. The major names in the console market never sit idly and just watch their sales; they're always working on the next major step. Even in Windows, we see this... The successor to Vista is already under development, and has been for quite some
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:11PM (#16473281) Homepage

    Hardware HDR. Just give us a really broad palette to work with, and handle the HDR on-chip.

    Profile login on a Sim card in the controller. The Xbox 1 had the right idea, but they milked the memory card price too much. Register your controller on the network by popping in a tiny / cheap sim card.

    Network Storage. My web host offers 400 GB of storage and a ridiculous amount of bandwidth for not much more than a Live Gold account. Drop the hassle of memory cards, jump to Sim cards, and store the basic game info remotely.

    Pad-based controller recharging.

    Game Modding and user-created content. I don't know how this would happen, but it needs to happen.

    Physics co-processor. There is enough particles bouncing these days that we should have some special purpose iron to help with the load.

    • HDR in hardware is easy, we could do that right now. It's getting everyone to upgrade from their HDTV to an HDR display that's gonna be tricky - look how much people are complaining about going up to HDTV!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cgenman ( 325138 )
        Sorry, I should have been more clear. Not an HDR display, but HDR rendering tricks for traditional displays.

        More details on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by @madeus ( 24818 )
      Hardware HDR. Just give us a really broad palette to work with, and handle the HDR on-chip.

      I think that's a reasonable request.

      Profile login on a Sim card in the controller. The Xbox 1 had the right idea, but they milked the memory card price too much. Register your controller on the network by popping in a tiny / cheap sim card.

      Network Storage. My web host offers 400 GB of storage and a ridiculous amount of bandwidth for not much more than a Live Gold account. Drop the hassle of memory cards, jump to Sim c
  • It's common practice in the IT industry to work on version n+1 of a product before version n is released - e.g. Firefox versions 2 & 3, MS Office, etc. Consoles are no different - I'm pretty sure that development work for the PS3 had started when the PS2 was in it's "shortage panic" stage.
  • I'm actually not surprised that they are rushing (again), if this article is true...

    Raise your hands, everyone who remembers Windows 1.0? Windows 2.0?

    IE1? IE2?

    (Hm, on second thought, this is maybe not such a good idea to poll this particular group with this particular question... save your responses if you have seen these beasts, I'm illustrating a point.)

    Its always v3 MS products that get real attention. Win3.1, IE3, etc.

    Or perhaps its just 'hurry up and get the Xbox3 team assembled before out sh

  • by pluke ( 801200 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:27PM (#16473581) Homepage
    Sega must have done the same when they were finishing the Dreamcast. I wonder at what stage the abandoned the plan and what they were planning to release?
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @01:29PM (#16473623) Homepage Journal
    Badly-done photoshop mockups of the "really real new leaked Xbox design" in 3..2..1..
  • Trojan Horse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Deluxe_247 ( 743837 )
    The strategy of the original XBOX was based on what Sony tried to do with their PlayStation 2 console - instead of being just a game console they wanted to be an entire family entertainment Hub.. No console yet has satisfied that goal, or even come close in my mind. 360 is getting better with their live content, but it is still HIGHLY lacking.

    The normal lifecycle of these consoles is ~5years. It doesn't surprise me in the least that they would start the planning stages already - it will give them a legup
  • I heard that its going to have a Wiimote... I mean Xmote controller whos position and direction can be accurately detected. And it will have a killer game called The Lengend of X-elda.
  • The widening gyre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LogicHoleFlaw ( 557223 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @02:42PM (#16474847) Homepage
    Of course they're working on a new system. Inevitably during any project you have to draw a line and say "This is as far as we go." Anything beyond that goes into the next iteration. Video game systems are part of a cycle. If you want to stay in the game you always have to be looking at least 5 years down the road.
  • Believe it or not, designing a game console requires *slightly* more planning than a typical PC upgrade. Of course they're getting started early.

    --Jeremy
  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @08:22PM (#16479355) Journal
    For the love of god, don't fucking start shortening the god damned fucking release cycles again you bastards!

    I've said it a thousand times.

    The Xbox 1 is a 4.5 year old unit, it's by far the most powerful and some still quite attractive games are released for it - yet it was the FIRST to get a replacement?! - Value for money? Hello
    JUST as it was taking off properly, Microsoft shot it - way too early and now they are wondering why people hesitate to purchase the X360./

    The PS2 on the other hand is damn near 6 years old now and substantially less powerful than the Xbox yet it's replacement is STILL not out - value for money is GOOD, sure it's time for a PS3 but I feel anyone who bought a PS2 at launch (if it lasted, that's a seperate matter) got value for money.

    Now I can understand researching the Xbox 360 replacement but if those motherfuckers release it Nov 2009, only 4 years after the X360 I'll be pissed, especially considering how little support the Xbox 1 has received in the past 12 months.

    The X360 should be thoroughly "milked" as long as possible - gives US value for money and THEM money cause we buy it, plus we'll consider the Xbox 3 or whatever if the X360 is properly supported.
    Considering the track record so far though,........
    • The reason the PS3 isn't out yet is because it was delayed, not some grandiouse design. They screwed up the ps3 launch and it seems based on recent news stories that they keep screwing it up. Based on your comment I'd guess the Dreamcast is the best value because its ten years old and still being "milked" without a hardware upgrade.

    • I feel anyone who bought a PS2 at launch (if it lasted, that's a seperate matter) got value for money

      Except they were stuck playing with a PS2. I think they got ripped off. :)

      Go on do an analogy for us, on how your 1982 Honda Civic is still running fine and was the best "Money Value" of all cars ever made. Sure this may have some merit, but I enjoy my sports car and it has better "Money Value" for me.

      Now considering my PS2 has been in the closet for a couple of years and all of my original XBoxes are still
  • Who's surprised? Consoles take time... what do you expect the team to do after the product has launched? Sit around for a couple years? Of course they're going to start planning the next console now!

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