An almost comical number of next generation stories spurred by naught but rumors and speculation have been flooding the internet the past month or so. Things really heated up last week when the word was that the 360’s successor had been code-named Loop, the Wii U could be getting support for a second tablet controller, and that the Xbox Loop was coming next year.
That last one came almost immediately after we had heard that 2013 was a more likely launch date for Microsoft’s next gaming platform. The rumor mill is showing no signs of downgrading its output forecasts, as another one of those trusted anonymous sources sprung into action and tipped off Edge that Microsoft is indeed targeting a 2012 launch for the Loop. That’s correct: their inside man – or woman, for all we know – let slip that the console is being prepped for arrival on store shelves late next year.
If the last two and a half decades of gaming have taught us anything about transitional years, it’s that whenever console rumors start piling up, software development kit (SDK) scuttlebutt can’t be far behind. In that spirit, Edge’s rumormonger also suggested that major development partners of Microsoft’s are expecting first edition SDKs to show up on their doorsteps before the year is out.
A few studios are apparently just too damn impatient to wait that long, however. Ubisoft Montreal (Assassin’s Creed) is said to have “target boxes” in their hands right this very moment. No, those are not boxes that Ezio uses for throwing-knife target practice. The crew up north is supposedly cracking away at PCs that Microsoft assembled for them using store bought components based upon the general specs that the manufacturer hopes to achieve with the Loop. Edge couldn’t get any details on those specs, but their source was willing to cough up that the GPU is a product of AMD.
Some of the teams under the EA umbrella are also believed to have gotten their paws on said boxes. Astute gamers will recall that this is not the first time that someone alleged that Electronic Arts had ownership of such hardware. Similar rumors broke out months ago before EA quickly labeled them as completely bogus.
But enough about the Washington tech giant already. What the heck does Sony have up its sleeve to counter a definite Wii U and possible Loop launch next calendar year? Funny you should ask, because Edge also reports that a certain Sony in-house studio has turned its full attention to the PlayStation 4. They weren’t willing to name the studio in question (Naughty Dog? Polyphony? Sony Santa Monica?), but they did mention that whoever it is played a hand in developing the graphical tech behind the unannounced PS4.
Of course, the simple fact that a singular studio is working on the platform is about as far as you can get from a hard confirmation that the next PlayStation will arrive next year; so don’t get too excited. Remember that the PS3 didn’t launch until a full year after the Xbox 360 had hit the market. Also keep in mind that, despite closing the gap in recent years, Sony has been unable to keep pace with Microsoft on the sales war this gen; and they were both buried under an avalanche of Wii sales receipts. Furthermore, early software development in no way guarantees that a launch is imminent. These things tend to take time.
That being said, all three have learned that being first to the market is almost always a fantastic idea. Microsoft figured that out when the original Xbox got pounded by PS2 in the sales department. Not willing to let that happen again, they unleashed the wildly faulty Xbox 360 in 2005. Despite it’s absurdly high failure rate – our own Jess Weimar just had her third one crap out last night while playing Skyrim and I’m on my fourth unit since launch – the MS console is second only to the Wii in current generation sales.
Nintendo, always the slow learner, didn’t catch on after a little pet project it backed out of in the early ’90s (the Nintendo PlayStation) came back under the Sony flag with a chip on its shoulder in 1995 and KO’ed the the N64 quicker than Mike Tyson would have punched out Glass Joe despite the 64 having the graphical edge. Sony again got to the market first with the PS2 in 2000 and sealed the GameCube’s fate by doing so.
The Big N thought it finally had caught onto how this whole modern day console biz works by jumping the gun and showing off the Wii U last E3 with a launch planned for the second half of 2012. With the system said to only be incrementally more powerful than the 360 and PS3, Nintendo could be in some serious hot water if the 360 and/or PS4, which will almost assuredly be significantly more powerful than their respective predecessors, crash the party next holiday.
No one outside of the Big Three can say with 100 percent certainty what they will ultimately do. I almost cannot fathom all three systems appearing on store shelves next November, though. It would be the perfect electronic retail storm. With consumers still holding on to as much of their income as they can, it’s hard to imagine there being enough dollars to go around. Then again, Sony and Microsoft could see it as their chance to wallop Nintendo – who surprised both of them by grabbing the retail crown these past five years – before the Kyoto, Japan publisher has a chance to start “printing money” again.
What say you, gamers? Are you chomping at the bit for the next batch of systems to get here? Do you want to see a console triple header next fall, or would you prefer to just have the Wii U on your holiday 2012 wishlist? Leave us one.
[Images via Inquisitr and 4 Player.]