We know gamers are clamoring for some news on the next Xbox. Today's crazy rumor comes from a nugget in Xbox World Magazine that claims Microsoft is prototyping a controller with a touchscreen flanked by traditional 360 analogs, buttons and triggers. If that sounds like the Wii U's controller, you're not alone.
The controller might never see the light of day, but this is what Xbox World Magazine is reporting (via NeoGAF):
The next Xbox will be a matt-black media hub with a mission to bring games to life in your living room with augmented reality, directional sound, and a four-player finger-tracking Kinect. We told you all that last month. This month, our sources tell us it will have a touchscreen, too.
Microsoft are experimenting with a tablet-like controller with a shape closer to Sony's sleek Vita handheld / Apple's iPad than Wii U's bulky unit - it's an HD screen surrounded by the traditional 360 buttons and sticks.
This is interesting because there has been a lot of talk on whether Nintendo's Wii U controller will be a hit or a miss. Developers seem to love it, saying it provides new windows of gameplay. Consumers aren't sure they really need it, especially if the caveat is that the Wii U might only support one of those fancy tablet controllers.
It definitely doesn't surprise us that Microsoft is experimenting with a similar controller in its labs. With the popularity of tablets and smartphones, it'd be naive to ignore the touchscreen as an important form of gaming input.
One thing Microsoft doesn't want to do is be late to the party again. Evaluating new trends is important to future-proofing a console. Sony used Blu-ray as its spring and Nintendo used motion controls. Microsoft staked its console on Xbox Live.
Funnily enough, a recent patent shows Sony also patented a Wii U-like controller for a gaming console back in 2010. Sony might be planning something similar for the PS4. Or, the patent could just be referring to the PS Vita's PS3 connectivity.
Like all rumors, take this tidbit with a grain of salt. We won't be lend any shoulders to cry on if it turns out to be false.
The Xbox 360's successor is expected to be unveiled at E3 in June in some capacity and launch in 2013. The rumors surrounding the console range from it being six times more powerful than the current gen to it having powerful DVR functions.
For Microsoft, the Xbox 360 continues its lead as the best selling console for the the thirteenth consecutive month. With those kinds of numbers, Microsoft might not be in any rush to release an Xbox 360 successor until its 10 year plan plays out.