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New console is expected to feature an octacore CPU, support for 50 GB Blu-Ray disc

Gaming magazine Edge is the latest to leak details on the hardware and software plans for Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) upcoming home-gaming console, code-named "next generation Xbox" or "Xbox 720".  

I. Xbox 720 -- Death of the Used Game?

Perhaps most interesting, the Edge report claims that Microsoft is preparing to come down hard on the used game market (a market customers love, but developers/console-makers hate because they don't get a cut).  

Games will be sold (optionally) on physical media -- 50 GB Blu-Ray discs (surely Blu-Ray kingpin Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) is pleased with that).  But to play the game you will have to have your console connected to the internet.  And each game will be uniquely associated to your Xbox Live account.  While the hacker crowd may be able to come up with elaborate workarounds, for most users that spells essentially a death sentence to second-hand or used games.

Used Xbox 360 games
The Xbox 720 will no longer allowed used games, reportedly. [Image Source: Multiplayer]

The Edge report echoes previous rumors on the hardware front, suggesting the console will carry a 1.6 GHz octa-core x64 CPU.  

However, it puts a face on the chip, suggesting that the CPU will be manufactured by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) and is code-named Liverpool.  The console is also expected to pack a D3D11.x 800MHz graphics solution and 8GB of DDR3 RAM.

II. Developers Say PS4 is Easier to Develop For

While Nintendo Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7974) continues to be the market's quirky character with its hot-selling Wii U -- which launched last holiday season, featuring a more minimalist hardware spec and novel mini-tablet-based gaming -- Sony and Microsoft's next generation consoles are on the surface very similar.

Most reports indicate that both consoles will launch this holiday season, although a handful of reports have suggested an early launch sometime this spring/summer.  And both consoles carry a PC-like architecture.  This is a major shift for Sony, which reportedly admitted internally that it "messed up" with the PS3's more custom console architecture (versus a more PC-like hardware design).

Sony's PlayStation 4 is expected to carry 8 GB of DDR3, like Microsoft's Xbox 720.  Sony's "Durango" development kits.  AMD is expected to use the same Liverpool CPU, as well.  But where as Microsoft's GPU source has not been clarified, rumors indicate the PS4 will pack an AMD "R10XX" architecture GPU chip.

The upcoming PS4 is allegedly more powerful and easier to develop for than the Xbox 720.
[Image Source: Gamasutra]

According to Edge's industry sources, the PS4 is "slightly more powerful" and "very simple to work with."  The Xbox 720 is reportedly slightly harder to develop for with the current kits, a reversal of last generation's trends.

That could spell trouble for Microsoft.  However, Microsoft has some tricks up its sleeve, such as a next generation version of its Kinect motion controller and an improved version of its already thriving Xbox Live online gaming network.

Sources: Edge [1], [2]

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Good news for Ouya and the Steam Box?
By Hakuryu on 2/6/2013 12:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
While MS and Sony continue to tighten console restrictions, could this be a good thing for Ouya and the Steam Box?

If they stop used sales, and link a game to an account, then renting (like Gamefly) is also gone in addition to lending games to friends. Console users will be left with $49-$69 dollar games, and the occasional $19-29 million seller versions that come out years after release.

Now imagine a Steam Box with regular sales... I doubt MS or Sony would apply a Steam-like sale mechanic.

By Motoman on 2/6/2013 12:06:48 PM , Rating: 5
The tighter the clench their fist, the more (console) systems will slip through their fingers.

RE: Good news for Ouya and the Steam Box?
By Flunk on 2/6/2013 12:19:50 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you think that? This is basically Steam's working model right there. Can't buy used or share just like Steam.

I suspect prices on consoles will come down to be competitive.

By NellyFromMA on 2/6/2013 12:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
Bonus points for awareness and insight

By geddarkstorm on 2/6/2013 12:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
You know, it'd be interesting if they could do a leasing model like e-books have: where you could "rent" out your game to your friend for a period of time; locking it in your library but opening it in their account's.

I'm sure people would put that to a lot of use (many times I wish I could have done that to share with friends in the past). Hopefully Steam has been thinking about that already, as it shouldn't be hard for them to implement, but would greatly increase the quality of their service.

RE: Good news for Ouya and the Steam Box?
By Mr Perfect on 2/6/2013 12:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
True, this sounds like a page from Steam's book. However, I'm guessing that a large part of the reason why people put up with Steam's no-resale policy is because the games are cheap to begin with. I grabbed Portal 2 for less then $10 on sale, so what's the point in reselling it? Everyone else can buy it for that price too if they're patient, so it doesn't really have a resale value to begin with.

If Xbox games continue to be $60+ and have no resale, things will be different.

RE: Good news for Ouya and the Steam Box?
By x10Unit1 on 2/6/2013 1:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
Steam converted me to being a full time PC gamer because of just that. Unless it is an absolutely must have game, all of my steam games purchased are holiday sales or from the various bundles that have been release over the past year.

By Hairyfeet on 2/6/2013 11:10:01 PM , Rating: 2
You aren't the only one, i used to buy only a few titles a year until I got Steam 2 years ago (ironically they got me as a customer by giving Portal 1 for free) and the Steam sales plus the truly insane ease of backup (just drag your Steam folder to a USB drive and if your OS ever needs re-install you can have your entire collection back in minutes) had me completely hooked.

But if I were buying at $60 or even $40 a pop you can bet I would care about the right of resale, but when I get something like the Deus Ex series WITH all the DLC for $15? Or the Crysis series for $17 with the expansions? Meh I honestly don't care.

By TakinYourPoints on 2/6/2013 8:58:08 PM , Rating: 2
Steam sales are the main reason lots of people put up with it.

I always valued the convenience it gave me (no keeping track of media, no CD keys, cloud backups, fast unlimited downloads), same with the iOS App Store or the even more restrictive Amazon Kindle ecosystem (trading flexibility for awesome e-reader hardware).

Not being able to sell things back is a tradeoff for the level of service and convenience you get in return, so there's definitely advantages for the customer there. Price was secondary to me but its a great bonus when they started doing it a few years ago.

And you're right, lower prices with periodic sales or rapid discounting (which also happens with XBox games) will also help make more restrictive policies on the XBox easier to swallow.

By TakinYourPoints on 2/7/2013 4:18:07 AM , Rating: 2

Steam is an excellent service, it along with Blizzard kept the PC viable as a gaming platform, but let's be honest about how restrictive it is as DRM.

It can only run on one computer at a time and you cannot sell or trade your game once it has been purchased and tied to an account. Steam accounts that have been sold to other people have actually been banned.

Microsoft is merely playing catch-up with what we've had on PC for years in terms of license restrictions.

Being outraged at MS for doing this is understandable, but someone saying that they'll run back to the PC to be free of their proposed restrictions when we've had much worse ones on the PC for years is beyond ignorant.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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