Xbox 720 Release Date: Will Microsoft Launch A Smaller Console First? Xbox Lite For 2013 Holiday, Cloud Storage [SPECS]
With the recent launch of Windows 8, Microsoft may have another new venture in the works. The software company could be releasing a pre-successor to its widespread gaming console, the Xbox 360. The new gaming system, which may be known as the Xbox Lite, will be launched before the next-generation Xbox console, according to rumors. Sony/IBTimes UK

The long-running Halo franchise is more than just a widely-successful first person shooter; it has been a flagship title of Microsoft's Xbox system for over a decade. And just as the gaming console has evolved since its inception, so has the action-shooter game formerly owned by Bungie Studios. The Official Xbox 360 Magazine UK (OXM) notes that Xbox Live developed alongside Halo 2, and the case may be the same for Halo 4 and the next-generation console.

If we lose our way with 'Halo,' we lose our way with Xbox, Microsoft Games Studios vice-president Phil Spencer said to OXM last August.

With Spencer identifying Halo so closely to the Xbox's success, taking a look at the development of the next console can tell us a bit about Microsoft's Xbox 720. Here are a few key points worth examining outlined by the Official Xbox Magazine UK:

1.The first person shooter is shaping up to be Microsoft's favorite genre. In the past year, first-person shooters have reigned over third-person shooters in the market thanks to titles such as Call of Duty. However, this came as a surprise to some who felt that there were certain advantages to having a playable character visible on screen. I was more or less expecting third person to be the more popular set of genres and indeed it was looking like, with Gears' success, that even in the serious action [genre], it might end up trending that way, id Software co-founder John Carmack said to Industry Gamers in July. But Microsoft has already announced new first-person shooters for future release that are likely to debut on its next generation console, the magazine reported. 'Halo' and the importance of games like CoD and other shooters, that state of the art needs to continue to move forward, Spencer also said to OXM.

2.Emphasis on first-party titles. Although platform exclusive titles aren't as common anymore, there is a place for console-unique games. These types of games can help shape the identity of a gaming system, just as Super Mario did many years ago for Nintendo. Edge Magazine reported in November that Ubisoft Montreal has been working on 'target boxes' based on the specifications of the Xbox 360 successor. It's important that our AAA first party titles help craft and shape how the platform evolves, Spencer added to OXM. It's both a challenge and a luxury to be able to develop the two systems in parallel. 'Halo' just by its sheer nature of size, of user base, as well as how important FPS is in today's gaming world has to play that role. Some fans have been making their own predictions about which first-party titles will launch, and one user in a NeoGaf forum speculated in January that these would include Forza 5, Perfect Dark 2, Viva Pinata Kinect, and Kinect Sports Season 3.

3. Much more horsepower than its predecessor. We're out of space, we're out of horsepower, we're out of everything, founder of 343 Industries, the studio behind the Halo franchise, Frank O'Connor said to OXM. If you're doing your best work that machine should be exhausted when you're done, and we're getting there. The Durango-codenamed next Xbox is expected to run on a 16-core UBM Power PC with a graphics processor comparative to AMD's Radeon HD 7000-series graphics card, according to CVG.

4. Next generation games will be more like online services than actual games. Microsoft and 343's plans indicate a massive Xbox Live expansion, OXM writes. Multiplayer will become more than just online gameplay; gamers will be participating in an interactive universe. OXM reported that 343 plans to release five Spartan Ops missions each week, possibly for an indefinite period. This theory lines up with Sony's rumored plans for its next-generation console, the PlayStation 4 codenamed Orbis. Players may be forced to stay connected to the Internet to play any game at any time, according to Game Informer, which would enforce constant online gameplay.

5.Sequels may arrive more frequently. Successful games such as Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty have proved that follow-up titles can be released every year and still result in success. Quality is extremely important, and that's where we'll focus, but there's an expectation that the worlds from today's gamer will evolve at a more rapid pace than a shiny new disc coming once every three years, Spencer said to the Xbox-based magazine.

Details about the upcoming Halo title have been sneaking their way out to the public lately, as OXM also revealed some new guns and interesting additions. The alleged new weapon is called the Rail Gun, and is said to fire rounds at an incredible speed. The story behind Halo 4 will also take a darker turn that preceding titles.