When the Xbox 360 first launched back in November of 2005 (has it really been six years??), it came in two flavors – “Pro” came with a 20gb harddrive, while “Core” did not. There have since been many other retail configurations for the Xbox 360 – a strategy, it seems, Microsoft may be repeating for the launch of their next console.
According to a report on Gamesindustry.biz, Microsoft would be offering a “pared down system to be released as cheaply as possible, and positioned more along the lines of a set-top box (the use of 360 as a Netflix viewing platform in the US is colossal) and perhaps as a Kinect-themed gaming portal”. Of course, it would be launching alongside “a more fully-featured machine with optical drive, hard disk and backward compatibility aimed at the hardcore would be released at a higher price-point”.
Now, let’s take a look at that last statement for a moment here. It’s no secret that Microsoft has been working on cloud gaming/storage solutions (as is becoming the popular norm). If they’re really willing to launch an Xbox SKU without an optical disc drive, it lends some credence to that theory. Could it also mean that they intend to release retail and digital versions of every game at the same time, rather than having to wait for the digital copy as is the case currently?
More of a foregone conclusion is the report that Kinect will be receiving a significant upgrade, and that it will be bundled with both versions of the new console to ensure 100% adoption rates. There still has not been any official announcement of the console’s existence, and while it’s obvious enough that Microsoft is making another console, everything else is just speculation for now.