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Microsoft Recruiting For Next-Gen Console Development

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the keeping-up-with-the-miyamotos dept.

Microsoft 134

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Eurogamer: "Microsoft is ramping up development of its next generation Xbox console according to job positions being advertised on business networking site LinkedIn, brought to light on the Beyond 3D Forum. The first position advertised is for a Graphics Hardware Architect, working with the team that is 'responsible for defining and delivering next-generation console architectures from conception through implementation.' 'The responsibilities include architecture analysis, key technology selection, architecture specification, communication and collaboration with extended Microsoft teams and partner companies,' according to the advert. ... the most intriguing element of the story is just how early on in production we appear to be — far earlier than many had suspected. Unless Microsoft is actually planning pre-production of the next next-gen console, the evidence seems to suggest that the system is so early in development that the graphics hardware at the very least hasn't been locked down."

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134 comments

We're about due for another generation anyway. (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416514)

The PS2 was released March 2000. The PS3 November 2006. If the XBOX team hasn't started yet, I'm surprised.

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (2)

Pottsynz (756353) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416554)

The PS2 was released March 2000. The PS3 November 2006. If the XBOX team hasn't started yet, I'm surprised.

Kinect is seen as a generation extension for the Xbox and given Sony have finally turned the finances around on the PS3 they're not going to start pumping out PS4s. Then again, they are releasing a PSP sucessor - so who knows!

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416794)

New handhelds are cheaper to create, make and market than a full home console (but its not without risk as Nintendo just found out - http://bit.ly/eW7nOC [bit.ly]) . I'll be surprised if Xbox3 doesn't turn up in late 2013 - or later - but am starting to think it'll be the last true home console because by the time Xbox4 is due, your TV set will have all the hardware (and more importantly - the connectivity) in it for whatever level of gaming we're at... of course Microsoft will be making its own TVs by then anyhow.

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35417246)

To be fair to the content of that link, the PSP has a *much* wider install base than the just-released 3DS. Getting that kind of sales on a 3DS title would have meant a full half of the then-current install base buying a single title in the same week - which is unheard of for any platform.

The sales numbers are actually pretty solid, especially given the backwards compatibility means that a good chunk of buyers may not even be buying new games yet.

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417510)

But, you have to ask, why did Nintendo launch without the one golden game that everyone would buy? My guess is, it launched early to avoid clashing with the next bunch of Androids, iPads and the NGP - even after all these decades of launching hardware, companies still find it impossible to get a launch "right".

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (1)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416594)

The Ps2 was early and the ps3 was late. We might as well compare to MS's own consoles, the XBox in Nov 2001 and the 360 in Nov 2005 which means we are about a year and a half behind. They have been releasing a lot of versions for the 360 console itself, the controller, the XBL service and of course the Kinect. Considering they are hiring now for this, it looks like its going to be a while before we see it.

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (2)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417664)

When you hear reports of developers receiving the first dev kits, you'll know you're 12 to 18 months from the consoles launch. Afaik, no dev kits in the wild so far...

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (4, Interesting)

PhrstBrn (751463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417684)

The Ps2 was early and the ps3 was late. We might as well compare to MS's own consoles, the XBox in Nov 2001 and the 360 in Nov 2005 which means we are about a year and a half behind. They have been releasing a lot of versions for the 360 console itself, the controller, the XBL service and of course the Kinect. Considering they are hiring now for this, it looks like its going to be a while before we see it.

Or you can compare Nintendo as a ruler, who has been making consoles longer than both of them. All of their major consoles (NA launch, starting at the NES)

  • NES - 1985
  • SNES - 1991 ( 6 years )
  • N64 - 1996 ( 5 years )
  • GC - 2001 ( 5 years )
  • Wii - 2006 ( 5 years )

If the trend were to continue, the next generation of consoles would be releasing this or next year. Since there hasn't been any buzz, the earliest I would expect to see anything new would be late 2012, which would put them on schedule for the trend, a bit on the later side.

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417214)

There's been quite an explicit aspiration, on the part of all 3 console developers, that the current console generation would run for 10 years, rather than the usual 5-6. With development costs going ever upwards and a big economic downturn right in the middle of the cycle, you can see why this is a desirable prospect.

The early part of a console cycle is a rough time for console developers. Even if you make a profit off each unit sold, the low volume of games available limits your income from the new generation, at a time when you've just finished pumping a load of cash into R&D to get the thing onto the market. Ideally, you want to prolong the latter part of the cycle, where you are creaming off the profits from your premium on each game sold (most of which you have to put almost no effort into beyond certification). This is where Sony made megabucks from their games division in the last cycle - sitting back and allowing the PS2's total dominance to work for them as almost the entire industry worked to deliver them profits. Nobody this cycle has achieved a similar position - only Nintendo have the installed base required, and they don't have the games. Sony and Microsoft have the games on their platforms, but neither has achieved a substantial advantage.

However, it's starting to look like the 10 year aspiration isn't going to pan out. TFA makes a reasonably convincing case for suspecting that MS will move earlier than expected. Nintendo have also been the subject of rumours for a month or two - and they have the strongest need to act, because the Wii is completely obsolete and is losing relevance with every day that passes. Only Sony have yet to give any signs of developing a new system - but they have a huge motivation now, in the form of a complete loss of the PS3's vaunted anti-piracy protections.

I'm not quite sure what's driving this, except in the case of Nintendo who would need to move just to keep up with the competition (as HDTVs become more widespread and people's expectations rise).

However, there is a part of me that - despite owning all 3 consoles and liking my 360 and PS3 - would like to believe that its due to the relative resurgence of PC gaming. Valve have done a lot of work to make the platform a sounder commercial proposition for development than it has been for quite some time - Steam's copy protection isn't perfect, but it's good enough that the inconvenience factor puts off some of the casual piracy associated with the platform (and minimises the inconvenience for users). Then there's the fact that PC technology is a long way beyond what the current consoles can offer - and while this shouldn't be a huge advantage from a commercial perspective, there are a lot of talented people in the industry who want to develop for the latest and greatest hardware. The PC version of Bulletstorm is, in technical terms, far superior to the console versions. Crysis 2 is apparently similar. Oh, and don't forget that it's never been cheaper (or, to be fair, easier) to get an off-the-shelf PC which will run the latest games just fine - at a time when consoles remain relatively expensive.

The last time the PC really had a dominant position in gaming (as opposed to a merely strong one) was in the dying days of the SNES/Genesis console generation, when the PC had far surpassed the old consoles and none of the successors looked even vaguely credible until the arrival of the original Playstation some time later. I'm just speculating here, but I do wonder whether the console developers are starting to worry about a repeat.

things wrong with PC games.... (0)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417468)

1) Some are still stupid and dont look right on Widescreen TVs. Noone uses 4:3 any more for games, period. Get a clue.

2) Most games are not gamepad friendly. ie, I have a ps2 controller -> usb adaptor. Work out of the box detection and works great? no chance. (my sample of games isnt large, correct me if they put more effort into this now or still think we like to use a kb in the lounge? )

Re:things wrong with PC games.... (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417570)

Of course this is party by design, Microsoft could easily have pushed for more standardization of UI/display/control ... but they kind of stopped caring about the consumer experience ojn windows after they launched the xbox, they only care about business users now really. Which has cost them untold amounts of money and made Apple very happy.

Valve is finally waking up to the power it has though ... so we are getting Steam Big Picture mode to handle exactly what you want, correct display on TVs and consistent controller operation. The PC is slowly getting there. Now all they need are boxes which come with lock downed windows and steam preinstalled, which it boots into when you press the start button on the controller and which can only run games, without being able to be fucked up by end users ... and then we will have a true next gen console.

Re:things wrong with PC games.... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418576)

Heh... Is that any different than X-Box at that point? Not really. And, more to the point, if you think that Microsoft's going to allow it to be licensed out that way or if they do, not find ways to cripple it down the line, you're kidding yourself.

If they're going to do something along those lines, you're going to get something that can at least mostly run the titles they want to run, or have them move the titles to an alternate OS if you're talking a locked down box with Steam as the console platform.

Re:things wrong with PC games.... (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418534)

1. You should definitely learn to configure your graphics card. You can force 4:3 for games that demand it. Yes you get black bars, but it's better than stretched screen. I haven't run into a computer game that required 4:3 though in years, widescreen monitors have been the norm for longer than widescreen HD screens.

2. You should buy an Xbox360 controller then. I have tons of games right now that all use it and play just like their console counterparts.

Computers now are converging to be their own consoles. Video cards support widescreen HDTV formats and simple connections through HDMI for audio and video. More games support both keyboard and controller. I consider what Microsoft has pushed onto this console and PC generation a great thing. It means that in the near future, there will be room for both the hardcore PC gamer and casual gamer to pick what level of hardware they want to deal with and play all games.

Re:We're about due for another generation anyway. (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417800)

the Wii is completely obsolete and is losing relevance with every day that passes

What are you talking about?

Will it run Linux? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416552)

Expiring mind wants to know

Re:Will it run Linux? (1)

Ross D Anderson (1020653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416608)

Short answer: No.

Re:Will it run Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416664)

Short answer: No.

OK then, will it run a cut down Windows 2000 kernel? :)

Re:Will it run Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416674)

Its going to run an OS made entirely in .NET :P

Re:Will it run Linux? (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417678)

Low level device communication aside (which can't be .NET for obvious reasons), that's not actually as bad an idea as it sounds ;)

Re:Will it run Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416944)

XBox 360 I believe runs a cut down version of the XP Kernel.

It also runs a modified version of DirectX.

Re:Will it run Linux? (1)

blarkon (1712194) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416746)

Sony taught all the console manufacturers a lesson - Never ship with the ability to run Linux - if you take it away at some point in future a small group of angry geeks will make it their life's mission to destroy your business.

Re:Will it run Linux? (2)

aiht (1017790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416842)

Sony taught all the console manufacturers a lesson - Never ship with the ability to run Linux - if you take it away at some point in future a small group of angry geeks will make it their life's mission to destroy your business.

Didn't something like that already happen to MS with the first Xbox back in 2003, even though they didn't have the ability built in to start with?
Why yes [zdnet.co.uk], I believe it did.
You can't escape the small group of angry geeks!

Re:Will it run Linux? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417184)

I was going to say that the "small group of angry geeks" on Microsoft's back weren't Linux users, but HDDVD fanatics. :-P

Re:Will it run Linux? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35417100)

Indeed. But on the other hand, up until Sony decided to take away OtherOS in an act of rampant, knee-jerk paranoia there was very little attempt to actually hack the console at all. The hackers so to speak were placated, and likely would have continued to be.

Re:Will it run Linux? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417486)

Ha, ha.. "funny". But not very. No, it will not. So what to do? Don't buy it if this bothers you? Or is someone holding a gun to your head?

profits? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416612)

and to think everyone who apologises for Microsoft's bungling on XBox will always say "but they're making a profit now"

Well, they were, now get your shareholders ready for another $10bn down the pan! Good job they can rely on the old monopoly to fund the new toy.

Re:profits? (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416776)

I am by no means an MS fanboy, but you're talking bullshit. Xbox division is one of the few areas MS is making money. The 360 made money not long after it was released. Revenue for the Xbox division has been a steady US$8bn for a few years and profits have been far from abysmal (approx US$500m).

I am always amazed at what fanboys come up with, and I'd suspect you are a Sony fanboy.

Re:profits? (1)

LordHaart (1364019) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417338)

Actually, I think you'll find that MOST divisions in MS make serious profits, it's just that there's a few big investments which are still in the early growth stage (where they consume more capital than they produce).

Re:profits? (3, Interesting)

citizenr (871508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417424)

I am by no means an MS fanboy, but you're talking bullshit. Xbox division is one of the few areas MS is making money. The 360 made money not long after it was released. Revenue for the Xbox division has been a steady US$8bn for a few years and profits have been far from abysmal (approx US$500m).

I am always amazed at what fanboys come up with, and I'd suspect you are a Sony fanboy.

500mil per year? on a >8B investment 11 years ago? and you think its great?
Not to mention Games division started making profit only in 2007, so BEST case scenario is 2B return for >8B investment.
Its not even a profit, They just started earning back the investment, 12 more years and they will be in the green.
  And its time to invest another 8-10B ....

Re:profits? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417556)

Yeah, I thought it took 2-3 years before MS finally had a year that "broke even" instead of having a loss. But after all the recalls/etc are added in, how much did this set them behind?

I know the 360 cost them a lot.

Re:profits? (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417688)

Lets not forget the opportunity cost of the lost focus on Windows. PC gaming keeps Windows in the home, maintaining the health of the bread and butter business.

There is clear political tension within Microsoft between the XBOX division on one side (allied with the business division, which just wants their schedules to be unaffected by the consumer side) and the consumer Windows division on the other ... they have literally said they will not bring out games on the PC because every sale is a lost XBOX sale, they browbeat quintessential PC developers to bring out games later on the PC (Mass Effect) or even not at all (Alan Wake). The Windows Home Server Vail failure can also be attributed to this "XBOX is all we need in people's home" mentality. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if personnel reassignment away from the windows division helped cause the original Vista disaster.

Microsoft is serving up the next generation of PC users to Apple on a silver platter, thanks to the XBOX.

Re:profits? (1)

dskzero (960168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417996)

>

Microsoft is serving up the next generation of PC users to Apple on a silver platter, thanks to the XBOX.

Apple? Are you sure? I'd think they would move out to Linux in any case.

Re:profits? (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418584)

I dunno, when I look at the Xbox360 controller in my hands on a Windows 7 PC playing Borderlands on my bigscreen HDTV in my living room, I kind of think Microsoft might have actually pulled off the one thing we never imagined, convergence.

Re:profits? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418700)

they browbeat quintessential PC developers to bring out games later on the PC (Mass Effect)

I wish they'd managed to convince them not to bring out Mass Effect on the PC. Worst 'RPG' I've played in years, I'm glad I only paid $5 for it..

Re:profits? (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418632)

Problem with your post is this: The entire point of the Xbox was NOT to make money which if you'll watch the early talks about the system they made quite clear what the main focus was: To get MSFT out of the Office Den and into the living room. And I'd argue on that front they succeeded beautifully.

Now with the X360 not only do they have a front row seat in millions of living rooms, they also get money from every game sold thanks to licensing and have a way to sell entertainment and other devices, such as how Windows 7 which is bog simple to hook to an X360 or WinPhone 7 which if rumors turn out to be true will come out with a way to have your games tie into your phone, so that for instance you play a minigame building armor that armor would be available on the console.

So if you look at the console based on its stated purpose, to get MSFT into the living room just like iPod got Apple into millions of pockets then it is a smashing success. One thing MSFT has shown is they don't mind spending money if it gets them into a long term steady growth market and the sheer simplicity of consoles means that for the foreseeable future they aren't going anywhere.

As I said in a previous post the smart thing to do now that PCs are so far ahead tech wise is to do another COTS like the original Xbox, Like say the 12 core Bulldozer CPU/GPU combo into an AMD 6xxx GPU. This would allow developers to get better physics and AI thanks to being able to use the power of the Radeon 4xxx built into BD, while leaving the 6xxx free for graphics. As the console matured the developers could use the BD GPU in connection with the 6xxx in hybrid crossfire for certain games or even when they just need to crank the purty, and the low R&D and quick time to market would have the console making money almost from day 1 while catching the competitors blindsided. This would also make games going from PC to console and vice versa trivial, and if they wise up and kill GFWL and partner with Steam could make matchmaking between the two systems easy.

Re:profits? (1)

Plasmoid2000ad (1004859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417676)

But... MS doesn't have an "Xbox" division... you are thinking of the Entertainment and Devices Division. And one of the few areas making money in MS... oh i guess Windows, Office, Exchange and all the serve tools don't count.

Re:profits? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418810)

The thing still remains that they hemorraged money into the Entertainment and Devices Division because of the X-Box and X-Box 360 and only started showing a profit some 3-ish years ago. After how long? Same story with Windows Mobile/Phone. They've been really burning money on that product line since it's beginnings because it didn't sell remotely as well as they'd hoped it would and it keeps morphing to the next market attempt and they've poured a Billion to try to kick-start it...again.

More to the point, Windows sales are flat as are Office. Exchange 2007 was an unmitigated disaster release that almost cost them that market. The server tools? Heh... Most of the server space isn't Windows.

Re:profits? (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417788)

me, a fanboy? no, I'm a Microsoft developer, have been for donkeys' years. However, I like to consider myself wise and sensible enough to look beyond the petty politics and tribalism of the members of the IT industry and see a slightly wider picture.

I don't have a console at all, and Sony are in my bad books after that rootkit stuff, but their little mp3 players are the dog's danglies, and their new internet-connected TVs are very good indeed.

I do take issue with Microsoft using their cash generative business to subsidise other areas, especially as they cannot compete effectively without doing that. I disagree with Microsoft's position of having to have a finger in *every* pie. I also have issue with Ballmer still being in his position, especially after he kicked Bob Muglia out (someone said that server&tools division was a money-maker, well it is now after Muglia built it up from the cost-centre it used to be. Guess that's why Ballmer did him in).

So, anyway, Microsoft invested $10bn into XBox development, and is now making a relatively small profit. They have never made a return on their investment. Any other company would have gone bust by now.

Re:profits? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418080)

So, anyway, Microsoft invested $10bn into XBox development, and is now making a relatively small profit. They have never made a return on their investment. Any other company would have gone bust by now.

In all the honesty, that just shows how much it takes to get a modern gaming console out and it's ecosystem running nowadays. Remember how sega went out of business after having a very strong presence in the market for a long time? Now you know why. Even one flop for a company only making gaming consoles is enough to put it under.

Re:profits? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418732)

If MS is using the game consoles (XBOX, 360, and what's next) as a beach head strategy then taking losses or very small profits might be acceptable. The next wave IMHO of technology/home entertainment is seamless integration. If the 360 is already in millions of homes and people need to buy new tech (TVs, computers, phones, etc) they might buy things that can integrate into the 360 (or next console) over things that can't.

Has worked for apple in the PC world very well.

It's the economy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416630)

Perhaps consumer research indicates that the demand for ever-improving graphics has plateaued? Or is it the effects of a long recession on conbudget, including the businesses themselves?

Re:It's the economy. (2)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416658)

Im not at all impressed by graphics on PS3, a good PC or an Xbox. All the games look roughly the same regardless of game engine or developer. The problem seems not to lie in the amounts of rectangles, fps or resolution. I suspect the only way to go forward is by using raytracing or similar instead of textures on triangles. Hardware is not anywhere near that kind of power so any improvements in graphics will for the foreseeable future seem very superficial and modest.

Re:It's the economy. (2)

Skywolfblue (1944674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416802)

Physics is one area I'd love to see vastly improved on consoles. Real-time fluids++
Though they're probably already adding that.
Real-time ray-tracing would be amazing, but yeah, unlikely in the near future.

Re:It's the economy. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417048)

Oh please oh please, can we have decent AI if we ask really nicely? All the kick ass graphics in the world doesn't help if the bad guys are as thick as a box full of hammers.

All we seem to get now is variations on the EA "rubber band" AI where the enemy will literally line up to stand in the SAME place where piles of their buddies lay dead or if you crank the difficulty you get PFCs that can snipe you from half a mile away while you are behind cover while being able to take more rounds than the Terminator. Kinda ruins the suspension of disbelief when all the enemies are Gomer Pyle or T-800s. Kinda sad really as for a short time there with games like Far Cry 1 you started to see bad guys that actually fought halfway decent, but then it is like the designers said "nahh...just pile on the bling bling!:.

Personally I'd be happy if the graphics stayed the way they are now on current PCs if they just had decent AI and good physics. Maybe an ATI 59xx for the GPU, with a multicore CPU? Hell maybe they should team with AMD and use COTS like they did with the original Xbox. A dozen Bulldozer CPU/GPU combos feeding into a 58xx or 59xx or even a 6 series GPU would be a pretty badass console and make conversion between console and PC trivial.

Add in a 1Tb or 2Tb HDD (depending on model) and you'd have a kick ass console/media center that you could tie into Win 7/8 for a total multimedia powerhouse. I haven't bought a console since the PS2/Xbox 1 but for something like that I'd buy it for my family in a heartbeat. All the ease of a console with the power of a good HTPC. Give it the Windows Media Center 10 foot UI and it would be a slam dunk.

Re:It's the economy. (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417430)

1 dont play EA games
2 PVP against humans, not the best AI around, but better than computer one :)

Re:It's the economy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35417790)

I don't compete against other humans. It feels counterproductive. Give me a nice coop where we have to work together and I'll buy it. Force me to compete with other human players and I quickly lose interest.

Re:It's the economy. (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417728)

Maybe an ATI 59xx for the GPU, with a multicore CPU? Hell maybe they should team with AMD and use COTS like they did with the original Xbox. A dozen Bulldozer CPU/GPU combos feeding into a 58xx or 59xx or even a 6 series GPU would be a pretty badass console and make conversion between console and PC trivial.

Multi-core CPU and a series 6 GPU in a games console you say? Hmmmmm..... that sounds like a winning combination! I can't believe no one has thought of this before!

Re:It's the economy. (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418074)

They aren't going to put $1500 worth of CPU's in the next Xbox. Microsoft is willing to sell at a loss, but not that much of a loss.

Re:It's the economy. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418390)

Actually from the data I've seen the new Bulldozer saves serious wafer space which turns into real savings for AMD which I'm sure they'd be happy to share the love with a nice console contract. IIRC they were looking at a retail price of the 12 core at about midrange Thuban territory, which is around $220-$270 retail price so it is definitely doable.

Add in economies of scale at that size and the fact that by going COTS they are gonna seriously cut down the R&D and time to market? I could easily see them putting this out as a $500 unit to start with the 1Tb drive and having it be a break even unit. Give it 6 months worth of product and/or a die shrink and they'll be making money on the units or can start lowering the price. While I doubt they'd be able to get it down to the sub $200 X360 price I could see it easily end up being a $300 unit that with that kind of power would be easy to keep selling for quite a long time.

If they learn from Sony's mistake and embrace the hacker community by letting them have access to the CPU and GPU and simply have the DRM on a separate chip tied to the game OS (which would be easily doable since like their previous consoles it would probably be based on Windows embedded, which supports TPM) so that geeks have no reason to tear into it? I could see this thing selling like hotcakes.

Re:It's the economy. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418744)

Im not at all impressed by graphics on PS3, a good PC or an Xbox. All the games look roughly the same regardless of game engine or developer.

That's because they're all being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator (i.e. the least powerful of the consoles). When my $1000 laptop can play just about any modern game on high settings, you know that those games aren't even beginning to stress a high-end PC.

What are Nintendo up to? (2)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416640)

Whatever Microsoft does, my mind wanders off to Nintendo and what they might have up their sleeves. Unless Microsoft pulls out something groundbreaking beyond better graphics this will be just another iteration of Xbox. I haven't seen any interesting acquisitions of gaming technology companies of late so i hardly anticipate anything new.

The trouble for Microsoft is that as soon as they develop a way of commanding FPS games that is on par with a mouse and a keyboard, their PC-Gaming business is soon cannibalized. If Nintendo succeeds in that feat, they have the possibility to take away a serious chunk of Microsofts gaming audience.

So, this time the war is still about the controller. Kinect is far from perfect, Wii also sucks for serious FPS gaming and PS3 arent any better. The one bringing the best controller to the market is whom i suspect will win. Better graphics or raw CPU punch just wont help a darn thing.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416676)

It'll have better hardware meaning game developers have more resources to work with.... although if we were all using PCs we could do this ourselves without waiting for some company to do it for us. *rabble rabble rabble*

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416696)

I predict MS will become Sheen. They're winning over here with the controller (Kinect). They'll be winning over there with the graphics (xbox3.) Hello, BI-WINNING!

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

Skywolfblue (1944674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416750)

I imagine Nintendo is just going to roll with what they have for a few more years yet. I can't see them pulling off "Kinect 2.0" or "Move 2.0" and being able to make it cheep. Maybe 4-5 years down the road when hardware actually gets powerful enough to power a true "Kinect" style device that doesn't have nearly as much lag and can precisely detect small stuff in adverse conditions. That would be the kind of stuff that would be console-defining. But I don't imagine it would be exactly cheep enough to fit the casual/family Nintendo mindset. I wonder how that will work for Nintendo in the long run. They're kind of patterned after apple in the way that they brand stuff as stylish, innovative and "Just Works", but apple favors towards the premium market and so doesn't hesitate to pick up new tech simply because it's expensive.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

WATist (902972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416818)

I'm unsure that any one has tapped into the full potential the Kinect. This is probably the first time Ms has been serious about developing a Xbox. As opposed to the original hack job or the farmed out 360. Hopefully their corporate culture won't kill the projects honest effort.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417004)

Kinect wont ever work for more serious gaming since its frankly pretty crude at detecting motion and also updates far to slow for an FPS game. It would need a very large breakthrough in motion detection and become better than anything on the market right now, at a hundredth of the price. The potential for Kinect arent much better than it was for eye-toy, its just hyped better.

What im talking about is something that can suppleant the mouse and keyboard combo in accuracy and speed. The toad arent on the same ballpark and Kinect not even on the same planet.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417730)

I'm unsure that any one has tapped into the full potential the Kinect. This is probably the first time Ms has been serious about developing a Xbox. As opposed to the original hack job or the farmed out 360. Hopefully their corporate culture won't kill the projects honest effort.

I'm unsure anyone ever will. History is rife with examples of optional extras that console manufacturers released only to find no decent games were ever made for them.

Probably because - well, let's say 10% of the userbase buys the optional controller. (Note I have no idea how realistic that number is - I suspect that if anything, it's hopelessly optimistic).

Okay, so that means a developer who writes a game which requires - or, for that matter, doesn't require but works a hell of a lot better with that optional controller - is eliminating 90% of their potential customer base before they've even written a line of code. And it's remarkably hard to secure funding when you have to tell the person signing the cheques that you're intentionally excluding 90% of your potential target market.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416966)

The PC-Gaming business is a lost cause anyway. If Microsoft doesn't steal customers away from it themselves, someone else will.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (2)

jareth-0205 (525594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417350)

The PC-Gaming business is a lost cause anyway. If Microsoft doesn't steal customers away from it themselves, someone else will.

When have I heard that before... oh yes, every year for the last decade...

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35417608)

Then clearly you only hear what you want to hear.

The same last decade, especially the current console generation, on Slashdot was littered with PC gamers whining about how PC gamers are being treated as second-class citizens and PC games are being "dumbed down" due to "consolitis".

And maybe you also missed the huge outcry every time is targeting consoles as the lead platform.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418530)

Is this suppose to be a counter argument?

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (2)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417300)

"Whatever Microsoft does, my mind wanders off to Nintendo and what they might have up their sleeves."

Why? They rarely innovate.

Look at the gameboy, the original was a great innovation, followed by over a decade of lacklustre new iterations, they finally got to the DS, and now seem to be repeating what they did with the gameboy- lacklustre new versions.

I'm not sure the Wii is even any different- just another of Nintendo's infrequent innovations, with a lacklustre followup in recent years hence their plummeting sales.

"The trouble for Microsoft is that as soon as they develop a way of commanding FPS games that is on par with a mouse and a keyboard, their PC-Gaming business is soon cannibalized"

Judging by sales and player stats it would seem for most gamers that control pads are just fine. I know that's not a popular view on Slashdot but, it wont change the numbers. For most people the control pad doesn't seem to be the stumbling block PC gamers make out. I'm sure it'll be rationalised by the idea that console gamers are all misled and that kind of thing but those arguments are really pointless and irrelevant. The fact is console FPS games are the most popular choice and are continuing to grow in popularity at a rate that vastly outpaces PC FPS sales growth.

Regarding Kinect one point is that it could originally track per finger movements, but the final release had it's resolution halved so that it couldn't to bring down it's price. I imagine the next XBox will have this higher resolution version as cost of the technology drops, or perhaps higher resolution again from that. There's no reason such a system couldn't be coupled with a control pad to allow players to gesture friendly AI to go to certain points, perhaps even coupled with voice orders (something that was briefly dabbled with already in Endwar). There's no reason games like Guitar Hero (or whatever replaces it) can't be mixed with games like Dance Central and Lips to give the full music experience of singing, dancing, and instrument playing combined. I suspect it's this increased level of immersion that we'll see a movement towards where we don't simply use a single control interface like control pad, keyboard, mouse, but we use the things we would use to interact with in the real world- our limbs, our voice, our facial gestures and Kinect seems very well placed for that kind of technology.

Personally I'm platform agnostic, I'll go whereever I can have the most fun without care for platform fanboyism. I'm sure I'll be hated here for it, but for me right now that's the 360. Starcraft 2 pulled me away for a while, and I'll admit I had a go at some classic Command and Conquer, and also Generals this weekend but for the most part it's still the 360.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

Mopatop (690958) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417746)

What's wrong with another iteration? I like consoles just the way they are. More power means more capabilities, bigger worlds, more detail... better.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417838)

Wii also sucks for serious FPS gaming

Have you actually tried any Wii games with FPS controls? Metroid Prime 3 shows how it's done.

Re:What are Nintendo up to? (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418528)

There's plenty of room for improvement with the Xbox given today's standard cpu/gpu capabilities. It's still extremely rare to find a console game that runs in native 1080p. The cpu and gpu are woefully underpowered when compared to anything gaming-wise for the PC, and the system itself only has 512mb of ram.

As for innovating, I could see them trying to tie the hardware for Kinect directly into the system opposed to trying to supply it as a $150 add-on. My brief experience with Kinect is that it does need some work, but is it being limited by the hardware of the Xbox itself? One other thing that came to mind was a video from MS [joystiq.com] I saw last week that seems like they're working on some things. One of the points in the video is split screen gaming without a split screen. Pretty interesting.

higher-res pics? (0)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416692)

Will the pictures of your half-dressed kids and nude SO uploaded to Microsoft be higher resolution than the current XBox360/Kinect uploads?

http://chriselbert.com/2011/01/04/microsoft-kinect-are-ps3-move-are-watching-you/ [chriselbert.com]

http://www.thecortex.info/2010/11/via-newsfactor-microsoft-vice-president.html [thecortex.info]

etc.

Re:higher-res pics? (2)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416738)

If you dance in front of a camera naked, check the "please upload pictures of me to the web" button, don't be surprised when the camera takes naked pictures of you and uploads them to the web.

Durp.

Re:higher-res pics? (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417010)

The question is: Are you allowed to get naked in your living room. If so, how can you prevent a silly XBox virus to upload pics of your naked self on your internet?

My answer: A piece of fabric on top the kinect. I'll trademark the KinHat and off I go to the USPTO.

Re:higher-res pics? (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35416748)

Yup. That's what the new XBox will be like.
Slightly better graphics, slightly better Kinect and 4x more processor power.
Sadly, 75% of that processor power will be spent analyzing the Kinect footage and deciding which advertising to push.

why does anyone think this means anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35416850)

Notice how it says "consoles", not "console". That means they want developers to work on next-gen stuff in general. They could be almost ready to pump out their next-gen system, and researching stuff for the next one *after that* for all we know. Intel hires people all the time, it might just be that they want to hire talented people. Likewise if Microsoft hires a software developer does this mean "oh my god! they're going to release a new version of windows next week!" not really.

When Apple started hiring RF engineers with mobile phone development experience, that was significant, since it lent credence to the rumors about the iPhone, but this is a bit different.

ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (1)

johnjones (14274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417018)

I'm game

which is it going to be ?

I would guess powerpc again
if IBM give Microsoft a powerpc license (they wont use it... it just makes lawyers feel good)

your guess and why ?

regards

John Jones

Re:ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417122)

PowerPC or x86_64. Probably PowerPC to prevent an Xbox 720 PC emulator.

Re:ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418602)

I don't think Xbox 3 emulation will be a problem. There isn't even an Xbox1 emulator and that thing ran off of an x86 CPU

Re:ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418608)

You do realize that cpu architecture doesn't stop emulators.

There are PowerPC emulators out there. More than that, how do you think all of those old school game system emulators run on x86?

Re:ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417604)

Are there chances of a Cell 2 or only Sony can get that?!

Re:ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35417740)

Given how unpopular the Cell 1 was with developers, the question is whether MS would want it even if they had the option.

(not saying anything about Cell's peak computational power, which is very good according to the few developers that were able to harness it)

Re:ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417778)

if IBM give Microsoft a powerpc license (they wont use it... it just makes lawyers feel good)

You do know that IBM designed and manufacture the processors for all the game consoles? If MS went PPC again, they'd continue the relationship with IBM.

I could see ARM or PPC. ARM to ease 'synergy' between their gaming consoles and their phone endeavors.

PPC to have backwards compatibility and least new development costs required. That and I think IBM has some patents they employ in their PPC designs that could make things very hard to jailbreak.

Re:ok MIPS / ARM / PowerPC ? (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418108)

I'd bet x64. IBM doesn't have any good high-end embedded core right now - there's the 440/460, which has decent floating-point and is very low-power but won't cut it as a general-purpose CPU, and then there's the Power7, which is the fastest general-purpose processor in the world, but is thirsty and obscenely expensive.

People keep talking about ARM in the next-gen consoles, but I think the chances of that are slim to none. As far as I know, no currently-existing or roadmapped ARM core is even fast enough to replace a triple-core 970 or a 970 with SIMD units bolted on, much less to emulate one.

Wine is about to get rolled (1)

DMJC (682799) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417046)

So basically what this means for Linux, is we're about to lose our nice run of game compatibility. Smart money says .NET support on Linux will become crucial to support next gen games in wine. Also DirectX 11, 12 or 13 support in wine will be needed to support the graphics. The free ride of the Xbox 360 locking all the PC games into DirectX 9 support is about to end.

Re:Wine is about to get rolled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418588)

I guess that's what you get for using Linux. I'm not trying to troll or anything, but some platforms aren't compatible with each other, and you're lucky someone took the time to make an effort towards compatibility before.

You're using cassette-level technology and Microsoft's trying to add CD features.

Geohot is looking for well paid job, possibly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35417268)

I guess this guy needs some money, for lawyers. He also said that he would like to try being on the other side for a while. Why not?

What's after 360? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417308)

Given the assumed 3D capabilities (everything is better in 3d, right?), will the new console be called XBox 4PI or just XSphere?

Re:What's after 360? (4, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417336)

Well, seeing as it's going to be a major INCREMENT of the X-Box family, I'd suggest the name Xcrement

Re:What's after 360? (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35417760)

They only chose 360 because 'Xbox 2' didn't sound as new as 'PlayStation 3'. Whatever the name is, it will be at least 1 more than sony....

Re:What's after 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418274)

So.. Next Xbox goes up to 11 ?

Geo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35417634)

Hire Hotz. That is all.

M$ knows that Sony has to release early (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418580)

With the PS3 cracked wide open I believe that Microsoft knows that Sony is going to have to pull the plug on the PS3 earlier than they had hoped.

If Microsoft doesn't at least have something to market sometime in the few months after the PS4 or whatever hits market they will be playing catch up. So this may be in prep for something like that and if that doesn't happen then they get more dev time to get it right.

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