Microsoft expected to reveal next-generation Xbox

REMOND, Wash. – Will Xbox mark the spot once again for Microsoft?

The company is set to reveal the next generation of its Xbox entertainment console during a presentation Tuesday at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

It’s been eight years since the launch of the Xbox 360. The original Xbox debuted in 2001, and its high-definition successor premiered in 2005.

For the past two years, Microsoft has led the gaming industry in console sales with the Xbox 360. In April alone, consumers spent $208 million on Xbox hardware, software and accessories, more than rival consoles from Nintendo and Sony, according to market research firm NPD Group.

Nintendo kicked off the next generation of gaming last November with the launch of the Wii U, the successor to the popular Wii system featuring an innovative tablet-like controller yet graphics on par with the Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3. Yet Nintendo said the console sold just 3.45 million units by the end of March, well below expectations.

Sony was next, teasing plans for its upcoming PlayStation 4 at an event last February in New York. The reaction to that console, which featured richer graphics and more social features, was mixed.

Microsoft hasn’t said what games will be on display Tuesday, but Activison-Blizzard Inc. previously announced that “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” the next chapter in its popular military shooter franchise, would make an appearance at the event.

Xbox has been the exclusive home to such popular gaming franchises as sci-fi first-person shooter “Halo,” racing simulator “Forza” and alien shoot-’em-up “Gears of War.” In recent years, Microsoft expanded the scope of the Xbox 360 beyond just games, adding streaming media apps and the family-friendly Kinect system.

“They need to show good games,” said Stephen Totilo, editor of gaming site “There’s been anxiety among Xbox fans that Microsoft has forgotten or doesn’t value the core gamer as much. We saw this when Microsoft introduced the Kinect and went after families and kids.”

Tuesday’s event will give Microsoft the opportunity to address several questions about the rumoured hardware, including what it will cost, whether it can play used games or Blu-ray discs and if it will require a constant connection to the Internet.

Microsoft likely won’t showcase all aspects of the new Xbox. The company has another presentation scheduled three weeks later during E3, the gaming industry’s annual convention in Los Angeles.

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