Is Project Natal a New Xbox 360 Console? Nope.
What do you get when you combine the Xbox 360, a motion sensor, and a debatably catchy new moniker like Project Natal? Not much we don't already know, it turns out. Still, that's not stopped at least one game site from speculating about a "second coming" in sternly declarative syntax.
"Natal is going to be a new console... Yes, there will be a new Xbox console next fall" professes a 1UP piece published last Friday. The next few paragraphs don't invoke background sources or moles to prop that up, they're just some leaps about games that "look or perform better" (whatever that means these days) and comparisons with the Wii, e.g. "similar hardware but upgraded, repackaged, and rebranded."
I noticed the story last week--it flew, perhaps as planned, straight to the top of the usual noise aggregation engines--and ignored it, mostly because it rested part of its case on speculation about the Xbox 360 being "maxed out."
For the record, the Xbox 360 is only "maxed out" if you're the sort of developer I don't want making games, because you, by definition, would also be the sort of developer who believes it's all about the verticals. This, despite the fact that 99.9% of the industry's lateral topography (aka that nebulous concept some keep referring to as "art") remains sadly untapped and uncharted. I can't see a lick of difference between the best looking PS3 and Xbox 360 games, and I dare anyone to convince the majority of healthy, sane, mentally sound gamers otherwise.
Will Microsoft "rebrand" and "repackage" the Xbox 360 when Natal finally surfaces? Did anyone honestly think they wouldn't? Doesn't equal a new console.
In any case, Microsoft exec Aaron Greenberg already hit the circuit, debunking the story by suggesting in this Eurogamer piece that what 1UP wrote was "nonsense," and confirming unambiguously that "Natal will run on Xbox 360 so no new console investment will be necessary."
Here's an idea: How about we avoid wild speculation about obscure years-in-the-future products and focus instead on the here and now, for a change.
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