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Xbox to release their next console in 2010?

My, my how time flies. Take a look at your calendar; it’s coming up on the 5 year mark for the Wii/Xbox 360. Long time gamers know what that means; it’s generally the point in a console’s life cycle where we need to start looking at the potential of new hardware. It’s starting to look like Microsoft and Nintendo are headed that route.

Nintendo has talked briefly about releasing a new console that is HD capable before 2011. But it looks like Microsoft might be jumping in a little bit sooner than that. According to rumors floating right now, Microsoft is poised to launch a new console at the end of 2010.

This console launch will be a little bit different though. Instead of us moving directly to another generation normally doubling up on the current hardware capabilities, it sounds like Microsoft wants to pull a Nintendo. The rumor is that Microsoft will be releasing a new console along with Natal (or shortly thereafter) that’s only slightly upgraded. The package would of course include the Natal camera. Kind of an Xbox 360 1.5, not unlike what Nintendo did with transforming the Gamecube into the Wii.

This push leads me to believe that Microsoft is moving away from their core audience, which is honestly a shock. We all knew that Microsoft and Sony were looking to get in on some of that sweet casual market dough.  But I never thought Microsoft would ditch the core. Of course none of this has happened quite yet. But if they pull a move like this and start marking Xbox/Natal as an all ages platform next year like Nintendo did with the Wii, then core users may get left in the dust again.

Honestly I don’t like where this is going Xbox has always been a platform for the core gamer. The original console was often related to having a “frat boy” mentality, and honestly I’ve grown to appreciate that. It’s been rig mainly for shooters, action games, and a booming online community of hardcore gamers. Of course none of this is 100% confirmed, but the timing is right. Traditionally the console life cycle has been 5 years, and 2010 hits that mark.

By the sounds of things, we can look forward to hearing more information about this coup at the 2010 Game Developers Conference. It’s also worth noting that there’s been attempted communication with Microsoft, and so far no luck. Microsoft has not returned any phone calls about this potential leak yet.