[font=Arial, sans-serif]The internet has been awash with rumors about next generation hardware, with plausible reports flooding in from a variety of sources. Judging by the level of traction these stories have received, it's safe to assume that both Microsoft and Sony will indeed release new consoles in 2013.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]A successor to the Xbox 360 has been in the works since 2010, at least according to a [/font]genuine-looking specs sheet that leaked online last summer[font=Arial, sans-serif].[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Some reports claim the console is in the works under the codename of Durango, while other sources refer to it as Thebes. The PlayStation 4, meanwhile, is readily known as Orbis.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]With so many reports about both systems floating around, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the hype. With this in mind, we've rounded up all the rumors on what their biggest features will be, when you'll see them and the games and tech behind them.[/font]
When will they be announced and released?
[font=Arial, sans-serif]There has been no shortage of speculation about both consoles' pricing and release dates. While multiple sources have suggested E3 unveilings, more recent rumblings suggest [/font]the new Xbox and PS4 could see the light of day as early as March[font=Arial, sans-serif], with an Apple-style media event said to be planned for its big reveal. Either way, we're bound to know all by E3 in June.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]We'll then see and hear more leading up to release, with October and November being the most likely candidates.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]As for pricing, it's been suggested the hardware will [/font]retail for $350 to $400 in the US (Â£217 to Â£248)[font=Arial, sans-serif], a price point similar to the original Xbox 360's launch tag of $399 in 2005, but is lower than the PS3's $499 and $599 price in 2006.[/font]
How powerful will the consoles be?
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Developers who claim to have gotten their hands on both machines recently told [/font]VG247[font=Arial, sans-serif] that the new Xbox will have a run capacity of 1.23 teraflops backed up by 8GB of RAM, 3GB of which is dedicated to the operating system, apps and security, with the rest for games.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]A Radeon HD 8770 GPU will serve as the system's graphics chip, which should be good enough to run the upcoming Unreal Engine 4.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]By comparison, the PS4 is said to feature a quad-core AMD APU Solution processor, an AMD 8000 series GPU and between 2 and 4GB of GDDR5 under the hood, but the big news concerns its rumored run-capability of 1.84 teraflops, almost [/font]50% greater than what has been listed for the new Xbox[font=Arial, sans-serif]. [/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]However, the next-gen Microsoft machine may have the PS4 outgunned on the RAM front, with the Sony machine supposedly packing 4GB, 1GB of which is reserved for the operating system.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]How is this hardware different from previous consoles? The chips and graphics cards are high-end PC hardware, but ones that are readily available off the shelf.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]This is also great news for developers, since the architecture is already familiar to what they know. Traditionally consoles have had specially-designed chips, such as the PS3 and the Cell processor, which have been difficult to port to.[/font]
What kind of games can we expect during the next console generation?
[font=Arial, sans-serif]While we have no idea which launch titles to expect on the PS4 and new Xbox, there are a host of announced titles yet to be assigned platforms.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Although the return of long-running blockbuster series such as [/font]Call of Duty[font=Arial, sans-serif] and [/font]FIFA[font=Arial, sans-serif] is a certainty, confirmed sequels that could land in the new era include [/font]Battlefield 4, Mass Effect 4[font=Arial, sans-serif] and [/font]Dark Souls 2[font=Arial, sans-serif].[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Then there are mouthwatering original properties such as [/font]Watch Dogs[font=Arial, sans-serif], Bungie's [/font]Destiny[font=Arial, sans-serif] and [/font]Star Wars 1313[font=Arial, sans-serif] looking for homes, so we're in for quite a year regardless of what Sony and Microsoft have in store for us.[/font]
Star Wars 1313: One of E3 2012's most discussed titles, Star Wars 1313's demo - which sees a bounty hunter cause havoc on Coruscant's seedy underworld - was running on a high-end PC and hasn't had platforms specified yet. LucasArts also recently shot down a listing that it'll be out on PS3 this year.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Kinect 2.0, cutting-edge 3D technology and the long-rumored Xbox TV service were among the headline features listed for Xbox's new hardware, said to be six times more powerful than the Xbox 360. A Blu-ray optical drive, "always online" technology, and "Xbox experiences served up from the cloud" by 2015 were also mentioned.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]The 3D functionality will allegedly be added post-launch over WiFi and later 4G. A set of Kinect 3D Glasses, in development under the codename of Fortaleza, may be sold separately.[/font]
Â© Microsoft Games[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Rumors concerning the system's built-in software [/font]suggest that Skype will have a major role to play[font=Arial, sans-serif], where the communication software will be used in place of Xbox Live voice chat, a move that would make sense considering Microsoft is gradually making Skype its default comms service across all of its platforms.[/font]
New Xbox: Kinect 2.0 and IllumiRoom
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Kinect 2.0 will reportedly launch with the console, featuring improved tracking, dedicated processing and with better play space and high definition. The new next-gen motion system is highly likely to tie in with [/font]IllumiRoom technology Microsoft showcased at CES 2013[font=Arial, sans-serif].[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]IllumiRoom projects images onto the walls surrounding the user's television set and makes them an extension of the screen, an effect it achieves through the use of a Kinect sensor and a projector. The Fortaleza glasses will be used to add depth to objects and environments projected onto the walls, taking the gaming experience to immersive new heights.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Screen test images of Kinect 2.0 have already found their way onto Twitter, confirming that the new motion tech will be accurate enough to pick up individual finger detection. Previous speculation suggests it will be able to lip-read and gauge the player's mood too.[/font]
PlayStation 4: Will it support 4K resolution?
[font=Arial, sans-serif]One particularly juicy rumor surrounding the PS4 relates to the system's graphical capabilities. If the reports are to be believed, [/font]the PS4 will feature 'Ultra HD' visuals in 4K resolution[font=Arial, sans-serif], a feature which is being billed as a means to convince customers to upgrade to one of Sony's latest hi-tech television sets.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Will this happen? Right now there are few sets on the market, with [/font]LG selling a 84-inch television[font=Arial, sans-serif] for an eye-watering Â£22,000.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]It might see strong adoption in the next decade, and, with Sony producing their own sets, they have an investment in the technology. However, with a heavy processing payoff to support the extra resolution, 'Ultra HD' might be a back-of-the-box feature for the console, but what games will support it?[/font]
PlayStation 4: Pre-owned games to be blocked?
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Sony recently caused a stir when it [/font]patented a disc-tagging technology which could potentially eliminate the ability to play pre-owned games on the PS4[font=Arial, sans-serif]. Although the platform holder has distanced itself from pre-owned sales blocks in the past, the news saw retailer GameStop's shares take a tumble.[/font]
Â© PA Images[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]While the patent filing appears to have handed Sony the means to prevent second-hand titles being played on its future hardware, analysts have predicted that the company will merely license on the technology to select publishers rather than impose a ban across the board.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter said that Sony would stand to lose too much by imposing such a ban and suggested that a publisher would have to be "foolhardy" to adopt the technology.[/font]
PlayStation 4: Sony to drop DualShock controller design?
[font=Arial, sans-serif]In a move that could prove just as controversial as far as the purists are concerned, Sony could be [/font]ditching its tried and tested DualShock controller design[font=Arial, sans-serif] with the PS4. While previous-gen pads will work as secondary controllers, it will make way for an entirely new design.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]The source claims that Sony is planning to introduce biometric sensor and LCD touch-screen technology into its controllers in an attempt to emulate the philosophy behind the PlayStation Vita's interface.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]Further backing up these claims, in 2007 Sony settled with tech company Immersion over a patent infringement suit over its rumble technology, securing the rights to use it in its hardware until 2017.[/font]