Yet another XBOX?

So, according to the rumour mill, Microsoft is planning to release yet another flavour of their XBOX 360 gaming console. This time sporting a 60GB hard-drive and, possibly, a built-in Blu-Ray drive.

But why?

Now the format wars are done and dusted, I can see why now is the time to make the jump (I write this even though Microsoft was a player in the losing HD-DVD camp). But why do gamers even need Blu-Ray playback?) I would expect the machines successor to be announced before next summer, so with the 360 at this stage in its cycle, where is the value in adding a player?

With so many DVD9 based 360’s already in circulation, Microsoft can’t possibly be considering Blu-Ray as a gaming storage medium, so it would just be for movies. Also, if Microsoft are serious about downloadable movie rentals via. XBOX LIVE, why would they want their own – 720p – downloads competing with disc storage with an out put at 1080p?

If Microsoft is serious about their download service, users will need in excess of the standard 20GB storage (after game downloads and demos, this can leave as little as 7-8GB for other media). So the move to a 60GB HDD makes a lot of sense – as would HDMI output as standard.

Finally, this really should be the last 360 options. Already we’ve had the Core, Premium (with and without HDMI), Arcade, Halo edition, and the 120GB Elite versions. If Microsoft continues to produce differing SKUs, how are they going to convince gamers to invest in the first generation of the 360’s successor? I know I’ll be wary if I think in 6-months time they’ll be a better version.

It would be nice to think Microsoft will resolve the reliability issues with the 360, too. With a rumoured 16% failure rate, Microsoft is lucky the console has a future at all.

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