Microsoft is already looking ahead to the 2013 holiday season, and will reportedly launch its next-generation Xbox console by the end of next year.
According to Bloomberg, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the company’s plans, the new version — codenamed Durango — is expected in time for the Black Friday and Christmas shopping crunch.
When asked about a possible next-gen Xbox, a Microsoft spokeswoman skirted the question. “Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships,” she said. “We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention.”
The current Xbox 360 is still faring well, according to Redmond’s calculations, which point to sales of more than 750,000 machines during Thanksgiving week, Bloomberg pointed out.
Still, overall U.S. retail sales of video game software, hardware, and accessories continues its decline, falling 25 percent from $1 billion in October 2011 to $755.5 million last month. NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan said early this month, though, that the Xbox 360 has actually realized higher sales based on average sales per week.
Redmond has not settled yet on whether it will unveil the Xbox at an industry event, like the E3 show in June, or save the fanfare for a separate event focused on the new console, Bloomberg said. No official details have been released about Microsoft’s new machine, but soon-to-be-defunct Xbox World magazine reported last week that the device may simply be called the “Xbox,” without any identifying numbers.
The magazine also claimed the new console will finally support Blu-ray playback, as well as a new version of Microsoft’s Kinect motion-tracking accessory. With rumored TV output and input, as well as directional audio, an “innovative controller,” and support for augmented-reality glasses, the “Durango” is expected to feature a 16-core processor and 8GB of RAM.
Last week, there were also reports that Microsoft plans to spin off the entertainment component of the Xbox console and introduce a set-top box that is basically an Xbox 360 without the more serious gaming option.
Sony is also rumored to be planning a revamed PlayStation console for 2013. The device, codenamed Orbis, is rumored to be incompatible with PS3 games, and may be programmed to reject used games, or limit their playability unless buyers of pre-owned titles pay to unlock the full game.
Nintendo just released its new console, the Wii U, the first major upgrade since the original Wii was introduced in 2006. For more, see PCMag’s full review. Also check out our review of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2 p.m. Eastern with comment from Microsoft.
By Stephanie Mlot, PCMag