Next Xbox Starts to Take Shape

Microsoft gives scant details on its next-generation console, but the alpha development kits hint at more.

While still hesitant to spill its guts on the next Xbox, Microsoft gave a few hints of whats to come on Wednesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Corporate vice president and chief XNA architect J. Allard said the new Xbox will not be just another game system, but an "entertainment gateway" that will work with other media, like digital music and online communication.

The console will also be designed to provide ultimate ease-of-use and customization for gamers and a very developer-friendly architecture.

Allard also said they expect the next-gen system to pave the way for the HD (high-definition) "era" of gaming.

"In the HD era, the platform is bigger than the professor," he said in a corporate statement. "New technology and emerging consumer forces will come together to enable the rock stars of game development to shake up the old establishment and redefine entertainment as we know it."

Why so few details? An official Microsoft spokesperson explained that "What really matters in the HD era isnt just the hardware specs; its the platform–the hardware, the software, and the services it takes for developers to create breakthrough experiences."

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about the release of Halo 2, the sequel to the most popular Xbox game ever.

While no mention of the consoles specific tech makeup was made, Microsoft gave some general info on how the high definition technology, personalization and connectivity will be executed:

  • Custom music. Developers will no longer have to support custom music for games, because consumers will be able to play their own music while playing any new Xbox game.
  • Marketplace. After searching via game, genre, etc, consumers will be able to go there to download new game levels, skins, maps, weapons, vehicles and content created by other gamers.
  • Micro-transactions. Developers and the gaming population will be able to log into the Marketplace, then buy content created by the gaming community. Buying a fully-loaded car, for instance, might cost a dollar, and then the transaction can go down within the Xbox context. Similar ideas have already been at play in PC games such as Second Life.
  • Gamer cards. Gamer cards boost the community aspect of Xbox Live!, allowing players to find others online who have the same interests, skills and lifestyles.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead the full story on Microsoft Watch: Next Xbox Starts to Take Shape