Console gaming enthusiasts are starting to get restless. With the Xbox 360 launching six and a half years ago, and the PS3 just one year later, gamers are starting to dream more and more about their current devices' successors. But Microsoft says to hold on, because even though the console is getting old, this could be its biggest and most exciting year yet.
Of course, that's partially because the installed base is bigger than it's ever been, but Microsoft is also shrugging off the idea that it's hitting the saturation point. Microsoft director of global marketing first party games Steve Beinner was recently quoted as saying, "2011 was our biggest year -- the biggest year in Xbox history. So we're feeling fantastic. We want to continue to build on that momentum. Without a doubt, I can tell you that 2012 can be a bigger year, and will be a bigger year, than 2011."
The Xbox 360 and PS3 exemplify how console gaming is unequivically different in this generation. Because of widespread Internet connectivity, systems can be updated as often as Sony and Microsoft want with significantly less overhead than would have been required before. But software updates can only go so far. Just take a look at the Xbox 360 and you'll see a system that's gone from a box with no hard drive, no wireless connectivity, and no HDMI ports, to a full 1080p system with WiFi and massive hard drives built-in.
Hardware is, of course, important, and 6.5 years without a fundamental change to the Xbox 360 infrastructure is a long time. It needs a refresh, but because of the aesthetic and functional hardware changes, and constant software updates, it's still fresh. Much more so than any previous console has been after six years. So while the rumors are still floating around that the Xbox 720 will be revealed at E3 in June, don't expect that to be the only thing that Microsoft talks about.