Friday Five: Five Things You (Probably) Won’t See on May 21st
Posted by Ken Barnes
Tons to see, but not these.
Microsoft have confirmed that the next generation Xbox will be revealed on May 21st, and everyone has gotten straight on the speculation bus regarding what we’ll see at the Redmond event. We’re pretty sure that a lot will be left on the table for E3 – which kicks off just 19 days later. Microsoft has timed this nicely, and will pretty much be guaranteed a full month of top-class hype from anyone with an interest – from developers, publishers, and retailers, right the way through to end users.
But, don’t expect to get the full battery of information on May 21st, oh no. In fact, you’d be a fool to yourself if you expected to see any of the following five things at the big show…
There’s a possibility that we’ll get a price confirmation at E3, but we feel that both Microsoft and Sony are playing it as safe as they can at the moment. Neither will want to make the first move, but with the release of the machines getting ever closer, one will eventually have to bite the bullet and make an announcement. There’s potential for Sony to host another event AFTER E3 – maybe several regional ones – where they’ll give us the final pricing and release details, since we don’t expect them to reveal anything along those lines in Los Angeles either. With that in mind, Microsoft announcing a price just yet would be a very bold move – and one that we don’t see happening.
As is the standard with this type of event, you’re looking to build hype and to get people talking. Microsoft will probably announce a US “release window” – as Sony did – but that’s about all you’re going to see here. The words “Holiday Twenty Thirteen” will probably be bandied about like a bandy thing. They may be a little more forthcoming than Sony, and confirm that the release will be co-ordinated worldwide, but that’s about as far as it will go.
There may be a passing nod to the subscription model that Xbox Live currently uses, but the price of entry for online in the next-generation is unlikely to be discussed. We don’t forsee the price being any higher than it is right now. The only way this is going to be mentioned, is if Microsoft takes the step of announcing that Xbox Live will be free to all on the new machine. The service makes them a great deal of money as it stands, but the cost has given Sony a unique selling point and proven to be a barrier to entry for some gamers. The smart move would be to pretty much copy Sony’s excellent PlayStation Plus offering, making online content free to all, and providing deep discounts and freebies to those who subscribe. We’ll be surprised if anything like that is announced on day one, though.
Yet another rumour surrounds the so-called Xbox Mini device. This is a system that connects to the next-generation Xbox in order to provide backward compatibility with the Xbox 360, and is rumoured to launch entirely separately from the main console – probably mid-2014. If it indeed exists, we would expect this to be announced either during the apparent wave of game titles during Microsoft’s E3 conference, or at a separate event later in the year – maybe as something to help propel sales during Holiday 2014. Plus, to show it on May 21st might well be stretching it. They’ve got to find time to fit in a lot of references to “syngery” and use the word “experience” a few hundred times, and they’ve only got a couple of hours, so we can see this one missing the cut.
We can’t believe that we have to say this, but the rumourmongers out there are suggesting that Rockstar will be releasing GTA 5 at launch for the new machine, and that it will be exclusive (in next-generation terms) – for at least a period of six months. Some are also running the rumour that Activision will do the same for the next Call of Duty title. This is highly, highly unlikely to happen and, even if by some crazy occurrence, it does happen, it won’t be announced on May 21st.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Microsoft will run in, all guns blazing, and give us every little detail regarding the console, the release date, the price, the launch lineup, Xbox Mini, backwards compatibility, online functionality, and everything else. That’s a very, very miniscule chance, though. Some would say that would be tantamount to commercial suicide, with the land laying as it does.
Whatever happens, we’ll be liveblogging all of the information for you on May 21st, and posting all the details just as soon as we get them.