Saturday, June 13, 2009

natal to be cornerstone of next xbox?

lidless, wreathed in flame

Whenever a story like this one comes out, every game blogger should sit on his or her hands and take several very long, deep breaths. The gist: 1up is reporting that based on “what they’ve been hearing” there will be a “new Xbox console next fall” centered around Natal, the motion-sensing camera which Microsoft brought to E3 this year. 1up has also “heard” that the console will have a new name, and that “some have suggested” hardware upgrades will be involved.

Ignoring the fact that '”some guys you know” are not the best source for news, here’s why your story is bad, why it’s poorly thought out and irresponsible.

Suggesting that “Xbox Natal” will ever be a name for anything: Microsoft made clear from the start that Natal was a code name, and I’m hoping that means that the name changes before launch. It doesn’t even have the one-syllable appeal of a name like Wii – at least I can say that and have the word over and done with as soon as possible. The thought of asking people if they’d like to come over and play my Natal makes me throw up in my mouth.

Suggesting that a hardware upgrade will accompany the new console: So you think that Microsoft is just going to toss those 30 million Xbox 360 owners they were just bragging on to the wolves? Yes, I can see them putting identical hardware into a smaller, more reliable box, and selling the camera as a separate upgrade for owners of the original 360. No, I cannot see them wanting to start over from scratch for the sake of a modest hardware upgrade and killing all the momentum and goodwill they’ve generated in the last five years (in spite of persistent hardware failures). If you release hardware that’s even only a little better, developers are going to target that, leaving the current user base in the dust.

You, sir, are only trying to get your site hits by starting as many rumors in one 400-word article as is humanly possible, and that is why your story is bad.