Why it's a great time to be a gamer
12th Apr 2013 | 11:00
Consoles, controllers, handhelds and TV takeovers
It's a great time to be a gamer: as if BioShock Infinite, the rebooted Tomb Raider and, er, another Army of Two game weren't enough to get your joysticks jiggling, 2013 is bringing some brand new hardware to get excited about. Whether you prefer hefty handhelds or cutting-edge consoles, there's no shortage of competition for what's in your purse or wallet.
We're hearing a launch date in May, a price tag starting at around $500 (£326/AUS480) and a November ship date, and it seems that the console won't be backwards compatible: its AMD processor means it'll have more in common with the PS4 than the Xbox 360.
Still want to play old games? Well, you could always keep your existing Xbox - or you could splash out on the new Xbox Mini, which is apparently designed to take on Apple's Apple TV and will support downloadable Games On Demand - but not your existing Xbox collection, as there won't be a disc drive. The device, dubbed Stingray, is expected to appear alongside its bigger sibling in May. And the Surface 2 may yet be the Xbox Surface.
One of the big worries over the new Xbox is its always-connected requirement: if you can't get an internet connection, you won't be able to play. Not only does that rule out playing a quick game because your net connection is down, but it might well mean the new Xbox won't play pre-owned games either. We don't like the sound of that.
One thing we do like the sound of is Microsoft's rumoured TV takeover. It seems that the next Xbox is doing a Google TV and putting its own goodies on top of your existing content, so for example you might connect your Sky+HD box or Virgin Media TiVo to it and then control them via the medium of dance using the Xbox's Kinect sensor. Microsoft is taking TV seriously - so seriously that it's offloaded its IPTV platform, Mediaroom, to Ericsson.
Microsoft's giving Mediaroom the boot so it can devote "100% of its focus" to Xbox TV. That's good news for the likes of Now TV, Sky's pay-per-view service: as head Simon Creasey told us, consoles "are definitely the ones that people are currently streaming on... as Smart TVs proliferate, then the market will change but right now the big players are the connected consoles."
The Xbox tablet rumour seems to have gone quiet for now, but that doesn't mean gamers can't get a dedicated tablet: the Razer Edge is here, and it's a "blast". That's what Alex Roth says, and while the tablet isn't the cheapest it's built like a tank and delivers serious gaming fun. "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Batman: Arkham City and Far Cry 3 are now tablet territory," Roth says, and although it's really "something of a rich man's toy" you should "go out of your way to give it a try."
While the incoming consoles are exciting, don't throw away your existing kit just yet: you might need your Xbox 360 to play your current collection, and you might end up using your DualShock 3 controllers with your phone. That's what Sony would like you to do, anyway: it's created a new bit of software that enables you to use a DualShock 3 with the Xperia SP smartphone. Could the feature be coming to other Xperias, such as the Z and T? "One would hope so, mate," says Sony's Tom Randall.