In just over three weeks, Microsoft (NASDAQ:
) will unveil its third game console. Tentatively referred to as
"Xbox 720" by the gaming press, the new machine is expected to
contain a new version of Kinect, the ability to run multiple
games simultaneously, and a new feature called IllumiRoom that
uses a projector to project images all over the user's television
Xbox 720 is also rumored to lock out used games by forcing
players to stay connected to the Internet at all times. The
console may also require users to install games in full before
they can be played. While this may be another measure to curb
used game sales, it would also be a way for the console to run
multiple games at the same time.
Microsoft has indicated that its May 21 event will be mostly
used to introduce the new console and all of its features. While
some games are likely to be shown, the majority will be saved for
the company's second presentation (either at a press conference
or on the show floor) at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in
Since the console and its features appear to be Microsoft's
initial focus, millions of consumers and investors have been left
to wonder: what will the company unveil on May 21?
"Big and Premium" TV Services
Yusuf Mehdi, the man in charge of Microsoft's interactive
entertainment business, hinted at a new kind of TV when he
at the D: Dive Into Media conference.
"All I'll say about our current and future investment is [that
it is] about doing things that are big and premium," he told
reporters. "Other people will try some lower-end things; what we
will do is things that are big and beautiful."
His promise of "big and premium" content will be tested on May
A Different Kind of Game Controller
) has been making game consoles for 18 years. While a lot has
changed since the first PlayStation was released in 1995, Sony's
Dual-Shock controller has remained intact since it debuted in
There have been a few tweaks (and minor distractions in the
form of SIXAXIS and PS Move), but at the end of the day, the
Dual-Shock reigns supreme in Sony's world.
Microsoft, on the other hand, made the transition from a big
and bulky Xbox controller (which some compared to holding a large
hamburger) to a sleeker and more comfortable gamepad.
With so many changes in technology (such as touch screens and
motion-based controllers), it is almost unfathomable to think
that Microsoft will not bring something entirely new to the next
Xbox that goes beyond a Kinect upgrade.
Brand-New Netflix and HBO Go Apps
Xbox 360's online capabilities are more frequently used for
than for gaming.
Despite this transition, Sony's PlayStation 3 still leads the
pack as the
) device in the living room. Consequently, some people were
surprised when Sony chose to use its PlayStation 4 event to focus
exclusively on games.
Microsoft is likely to use this opportunity to show that it is
building an entertainment device for the whole family. Expect
Netflix and HBO Go to be a major part of that push with new apps
and a brief presentation.
The First Glimpse of VR
Virtual reality is frequently thought of as the future of
gaming. Though it could take a long time before the technology is
good enough to produce a reliable and affordable interactive
gaming experience, Sony (NYSE:
) and other game developers have been slowly making progress.
When Xbox 720 info first began to leak, virtual reality
elements -- including a version of Kinect that would greatly
enhance a user's experience based on his or her real-world
surrounding -- quickly made their rounds across the rumor mill.
These rumors were somewhat confirmed when Microsoft unveiled
IllumiRoom is not technically VR, however, and may not be the
only thing Microsoft has planned for Xbox 720.
Game Debuts Sony Didn't Get
When Sony unveiled its next console, PlayStation 4, the
company brought representatives from several of its key partners,
including Activision (NASDAQ:
), Capcom, Ubisoft and the company that helped sell the original
PlayStation in Japan, Square Enix.
While other big publishers -- Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:
), Konami (NYSE:
) and Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:
) -- were announced as PS4 developers, they did not have a stage
presence at Sony's event.
Given how close Microsoft and Electronic Arts have become, EA
is all but guaranteed to make an appearance on May 21. The two
companies used Madden to heavily promote Xbox 360 during a
pre-taped teaser event that aired on MTV in 2005. This time
around, Spike TV -- which is owned by MTV Networks -- will air a
live Xbox event.
Microsoft has also gotten closer with Konami. While the
Windows maker has been unable to acquire any memorable
exclusives, Microsoft did secure the worldwide debut of the
teaser trailer for Metal Gear Rising. With Metal Gear Solid 4
already unveiled, expect Konami to provide a new (perhaps
exclusive) teaser at Microsoft's event.
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer
of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or
louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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