It’s now being reported that Microsoft’s entry into the next-gen console war, following up on Sony’s PlayStation 4 announcement, won’t happen until May 21st — and with that announcement come new rumors about features for the new console, set to make some gamers happy while simultaneously angering others.
The biggest controversy stemming from the latest round of leaks and rumors surrounds Microsoft’s apparent plans to require an always-online internet connection whenever the console is in use. Owners of an Xbox 360 will know that Microsoft only requires an internet connection if you’re trying to play multiplayer or use any of its online functionality apps. If true, requiring always-on internet will mark a big shift from how consoles have worked to date, and given the recent backlash with games like SimCity (which require always-online internet in order to play), this won’t go over well.
We’re also hearing that the new console will hit stores in November of this year, carrying two different price tags: the generic sale price of $500, which buys you the console, and an option to purchase the console in addition to a subscription (amount undisclosed) for $300. The latter isn’t a huge surprise, as Microsoft has been testing a low-price and subscription bundle with some of its 360 models over the past year. The bad news here is that it would appear that Microsoft has no plans to scrap its Xbox Live Gold pay-to-use plans, which severely restrict access to all of its media apps and online gaming for those unwilling to fork out the extra $60 a year to play. (Sony and Nintendo both offer their web-based console services for free.)
As always, these leaks have not been confirmed by Microsoft. But unlike past leaks, this new batch of information comes hot on the heels of their recent PR nightmare, with a lead Microsoft employee mocking gamers who dislike the idea of always-on internet being required to play games and use consoles.
We’ll continue reporting on the latest leaks and rumors, and we’ll be live blogging the Xbox reveal event this May!