A Possible Leak From Microsoft May Reveal the Future of Xbox

While the Wii U has been making its publicity tour, including an awkward appearance on “The Jimmy Fallon Show,” there has been a very shocking dearth of information from Sony and Microsoft concerning their next generation plans. That is, until now.

Well… possibly.

There is this absolutely massive 56-page report that is currently making its rounds on the front page of most major gaming websites.  Its contents are various, but the general summary of it is a detailed “game plan” of sorts for Microsoft’s next console launch, including features, a price point, and a broad ranged analysis of the console market both at the time of the documents origins and how it will look by 2013 (the next console’s supposed launch date) and beyond.

Now, this report is being classified as a “leak” as it apparently made its rounds internally around Microsoft back in 2010. However, while Microsoft is naturally remaining mum on the subject of its origins and accuracy, there are many who believe the report to be more or less a hoax, albeit a very detailed and professional one. Nevertheless, the most eye-grabbing bits of the report are the specific features of the alleged new console (which is named Xbox 720 in the report). Among them are:

– Blu-ray functionality (oh come on Microsoft, giving up on HD-DVD so easily?)

– Enhanced Kinect support, including the expansion of the system to allow up to four players and a new sensor all together

– A $299 price point

– Cloud support for taking your multimedia files anywhere

– Potential tablet integration

– Enhanced reality glasses, dubbed Fortaleza, that provide features such as heads-up displays and other virtual reality aspects

– Games that are “4x to 6x better looking than current titles”

Considering features such as Blu-ray support and new Kinect hardware have already been more or less confirmed by reliable sources, and other now official ideas such as Smartglass are mentioned in the report, its hard not to believe that at one point at least some of this document was genuine.

But that’s not the real story to come from this leak. More than any specific features, or numbers that were mentioned, the really intriguing part of the document is the notion it carries that after this next console there will be no need for more hardware upgrades. In fact, there is a general vibe throughout the report that the future of gaming is not reliant on further physical systems from Microsoft or anyone. This isn’t some outdated minority opinion either, as “God of War” developer David Jaffe has gone on record with a similar idea that  “the next generation of hardware will be the last consoles. And they should be.”

There are many conclusions that can be drawn from such a bold statement, but it is odd to think that gaming will function past the need of a physical system. Considering that the document mentions such projects as Apple TV within it, and cites some companies’ similar ideas as potential acquisitions, it would appear that the thought is that one day gaming will just be another instant streaming function of one large multimedia device a la the iPhone.

The website that first posted this story, scribd, has sense taken the document down at the behest of Covington & Burling LLP, a law firm representing Microsoft. While this doesn’t necessarily lend any more legitimacy to the story one way or the other, it is kind of a shame, because buried under the exceedingly dry reports and technicalities, and the vague nature of the document’s validity, there were some truly fascinating ideas regarding the future direction of not just Microsoft, but gaming as a whole that anyone with any level of interest in the industry needs to start considering.


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