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Analyst eyes Q3 2013 for Xbox 720 release

Seller of pre-owned games spins against disc-less console

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Microsoft's next Xbox console will launch in Q3 2013 and, contrary to widespread rumours, will not be a download-only platform, one analyst reckons.

"Although not yet confirmed by Microsoft, we believe the next generation Xbox console could launch in the fall of 2013," said Doug Creutz, a soothsayer at Cowan & Company, a stockbroker, in a research note circulated this morning.

The analyst reckons a digital-only Xbox would pose far too many risks to Microsoft's market share, and any attempt to kill off the used games market would be damaging to the industry's ecosystem.

"We do believe that Microsoft may be targeting a cheaper physical solution in an effort to get the initial price of the box down and speed up new console adoption, which would be bullish for software publishers," he claimed.

US retail giant GameStop seconded the notion at an earnings call today, after head honcho Paul Raines said it was improbable that the Redmond firm would block the use of secondhand games.

"We think it's unlikely that there would be that [used-game blocking] next-gen console because the model simply hasn't been proven," he said, talking up the value of used games to the industry.

"Remember that GameStop generates $1.2bn of trade credits around the world with our used-game model. So, consider taking used games out of that, you'd have to find new ways to sell the games."

But to say otherwise would be like a Turkey voting for Christmas.

Indeed, earlier this week, David Braben stuck the knife into the second-hand games market, asserting it damages innovative single-player development.

And there is a model for a vibrant games business that doesn't involve secondhand sales: the iTunes App Store and Google Play. That's surely more likely to influence Microsoft's thinking than the pleading of retailers of pre-owned product. ®

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