Xbox 2 to be announced at X04?
Annual industry conference the likely platform for Microsoft's next move in the console market, with first look at GDC 2005?
The Xbox 2 looks likely to be formally announced in September, with Sony's PlayStation 3 announcement this morning helping to heap pressure on Microsoft to finally take the wraps off the successor to its Xbox console.
To date, Microsoft has consistently refused to comment on any talk of Xbox 2, despite issuing numerous game developers with development kits, but with both Nintendo and Sony having made up their minds to use E3 2005 as an initial launch platform, Microsoft will be mindful that it needs an event of its own which can generate as much attention without getting lost in the next gen crowd.
The most logical assumption to make, is that Microsoft will use X04, its annual industry event for Europe, as the means to reveal its intentions in the next generation console market, although at the time of going to press, Microsoft has not yet confirmed that the event will be taking place this year. A mid September date is expected, however.
Microsoft's Peter Moore repeatedly stated back in May that Microsoft would "not be beaten to market", and therefore the firm needs to begin beating the drum to the industry shortly - and X04 would appear to be the ideal platform for the firm to begin the process of launching Xbox 2 to the wider world.
As for when the console will be shown off for the first time, that role is likely to be fulfilled by either the CES show in January, or the Game Developer's Conference in March - thought to be Microsoft's original intentions this year, but chose to launch its XNA development tools initiative while it waited for Sony to play its hand.
The first 'hands-on' public unveiling will therefore be at E3 in May 2005, with a US launch following in October. As before, it would appear likely that a staggered launch strategy will be implemented, with Europe's next logical launch window pushed back to March 2006 - still a full six to eight months ahead of the PS3, with Japan following shortly afterwards.
Microsoft's current company line is to not discuss Xbox 2, but expect a huge blaze of publicity soon.