What's Next with Gaming Consoles

Time to catch up with some of the latest next generation gaming console rumors.

This generation, particularly in North America, Microsoft has had the upper hand in the battle between Xbox and Playstation. But Sony dominated the last generation when the Playstation 2 was far more popular than the original Xbox. The tables turned when Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 before Sony could get the Playstation 3 out the door. Gamers hungry for new hardware jumped from the Playstation 2 to the Xbox 360.

For the next generation, according to a post (from April 2nd) on VG247, Sony is planning to be first to market. In fact the quote is that they are "confident" that they'll be on store shelves first.

But does it really matter? The Xbox 360 beat the PS3 by about a year. That's a lot of time to establish a lead. If the rumors are correct and both consoles ship for Holiday 2013, the PS4 will beat the Xbox 720 by a couple of months at most.

Additionally, Sony has managed to gather a lot of ill will in the gaming community and beyond. You can trace this back as far as the CD rootkit scandal of 2005. Or maybe it was Sony's Ken Kutaragi suggesting that gamers should work more hours in order to pay for the super-expensive launch PS3. Sony became famous for its arrogance and a lot of gamers aren't yet ready to forgive.

Sony is also reeling from a bad year, cutting 10,000 jobs and reporting a $6.4 billion loss. What will this mean for the PS4? It's hard to say, though games are one of the three main focuses for new Sony President Kaz Hirai's turn-around plan (the other two are mobile and digital imaging). With so much emphasis on Sony's gaming business, maybe the company can make amends with the gaming community.

But let's not forget the elephant in the room. The Nintendo Wii U is launching holiday 2012. Most reports suggest that it has about the same power (some say a little less, others say a little more) as the current Xbox 360 and PS3 so it's easy to discount Nintendo, but many discounted the original Wii and look how well it did. Can the Wii U make a serious dent in the "core gamer" market with a year-long head start?

Anyway, it seems to me that if the Xbox 720 and PS4 both launch in the 2013 holiday season, neither will have a 'head start.' People will wait a month or two to get the brand they want. There's a world of difference between an eight week head start and a year-long head start.

So let's move on to the Xbox 720. As reported by CVG, the latest edition of Xbox World magazine has details on the Xbox 720 "Durango" development kits that have been sent to developers. Mystery sources say the devkits are powered by "a state of the art 16-core IBM Power PC CPU." Xbox World says the system has "a ridiculous amount of power for a games machine -- too much power, even."

So there's a sound bite for you: "The Xbox 720: It has TOO MUCH POWER."

Ars Technica responded to this rumorin a nostalga-filled post that recalled Atari's "64 Bit" marketing campaign for the Atari Jaguar video game system. As Ars points out, without knowing how powerful each core is, 16 cores doesn't mean all that much.

More interesting to me is word from CVG that third party developers are intending to show off their in-progress next generation titles at E3. Both Sony and Microsoft have made a point of saying they won't be talking about new hardware at the show this June. Third party devs apparently have no qualms about going forward without the support of the hardware manufacturers.

Of all the rumors I've heard lately, this is the one I really hope is true. I want to see what kinds of games developers can produce using the next generation of gaming console hardware.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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