NEWS - Saturday, November 22, 2003

(RUMOR) - Xbox 2 at Next GDC?

XBOX 2 SET FOR SHOCK GDC UNVEILING! Console war gearing up for Easter 2004 explosion, with Microsoft set to land first blow Microsoft is secretly planning to make the first demonstration of next-generation Xbox hardware at next year’s GDC, according to industry sources operating at the highest levels. The Game Developers Conference takes place in California from March 22-26 of next year, and if the unveiling goes ahead, it will replicate almost exactly the way Microsoft revealed Xbox itself at the show in 2000. With Sony looking increasingly likely to start making waves with PS3 at E3 next May, it’s believed Microsoft, having repeatedly asserted it will be first to the market in the next generation, wants to set its stall out early and, most crucially, first. One senior source, operating under strict conditions of anonymity, told us: "The plan is to talk specs and show early tech demos [of Xbox 2] at a US event next Easter. This will provide a platform leading towards something more substantial at E3." The proposed showing at GDC is expecting to match that of the 2000 event, and will be behind closed doors on an invitation only basis at Microsoft’s stand. In terms of timing, this makes perfect sense: the current widespread belief amongst industry watchers is that PS3 is likely to release in Japan around Christmas 2005, with the sequel to Xbox coming in preceding months, with September/October the current whisper. With this in mind, Microsoft will need to be able to go to investors and related parties with hard evidence soon. Further credence is added by a recent report by analysts US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, published yesterday, claiming sales of the current generation of console hardware have peaked, forecasting slowing sales for the remainder of this generation; if Microsoft and its competitors are to continue to build upon the installed userbase, the revelation and promise of new hardware is essential. We contacted Microsoft for clarification, but a spokesperson would only issue the stock response: "This is a rumour and we do not comment on rumours." However, one highly placed insider, while refusing to be drawn on the potential GDC showing, did concede: "We do have quite a lot to talk about now..."


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