[Update] Rumor: Next Xbox Leaves DRM Up To Publishers, Costs $499


If you thought the rumor mill surrounding Microsoft’s next Xbox (Xbox 720/Durango) would slow down its output now that the console’s debut event has been scheduled, better think again. Fresh rumors from anonymous sources have provided unconfirmed information on everything from the next-gen console’s always-on digital rights (DRM) plans to its anticipated launch price point.

The bulk of the new information comes from Polygon, which claims that Microsoft will have “some form of an always-on requirement” for the next Xbox. According to their sources, the always-on connection will not only be used for non-gaming entertainment applications but also as a way to support anti-piracy tools and DRM. The report states that Microsoft has not yet finalized details, but is currently leaning towards a model where individual publishers can decide if their game will require an always-on internet connection or some type of “one-time authentication” method.

I think we can all safely guess which method Electronic Arts is going to use for their next-gen Xbox games. After all, every game is now some new type of MMO that requires a content internet connection…

Polygon is also reporting that Microsoft will revamp their achievement system for the next Xbox. The new next-gen achievements are said to allow publishers to do things like; introduce new achievements post launch without adding DLC, tie achievements to special events (such as weekend challenges or community goals), and create achievements that span multiple titles.

The report also mentions that Microsoft is planning to give the Xbox DVR like capabilities to record gameplay footage, which can then be uploaded to social sites or Youtube. Given Sony’s already announced “Share” features with the PlayStation 4, this is the one rumor out of the bunch that seems like a certainty.

On the issue of price point, tech blogger Paul Thurrott revealed this week that his sources are claiming Microsoft will launch the next Xbox with two SKUs. The first will be a traditional “standalone” version that will run a hefty $499. The second SKU will be in line with the company’s recent subsidized Xbox 360 options, and will cost consumers an initial $299 charge followed by a two-year, $10 per month Xbox Live Gold commitment.

[Update] Paul Thurrott has since clarified that he meant the subsidized next-gen Xbox will come with a $15 per month 2-year Xbox Live Gold commitment, not $10 per month as originally indicated.

Microsoft officially debuts the next generation Xbox on May 21, 2013, so we don’t have long to wait to get answers to at least some of these questions. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on this latest round of next Xbox rumors in the comments below.