Xbox 720 / PS4 Could Be Released This Year
This is all rumor, you should be aware that this is speculation. Though it wouldn't be all that shocking if it did happen, we've been kind of past due for another hardware advance. While the rumors Game Informer received don't really add up when you think about it. Xbox has a countdown to E3, most people believed that count down to be an official reveal of Microsoft's next console. If a reveal is made in March, like the rumors suggest, then the release could be during E3. While a summer launch wouldn't be that unlikely, it still doesn't seem like the kind of move Microsoft would make with something that important. Consoles really sell around October - January, so jumping the gun that soon and wearing out the "new thing" appeal before selling season could be a problem.
Sony's part of the rumor doesn't really make that much sense either. A quote from Hiroshi Sakamoto (vice president of Sony) suggests a reveal of the PS4 would probably come out around May, not March. This really doesn't make any sense. Why would Sony suddenly change their mind? A summer release isn't impossible, but it isn't as profitable as a autumn/winter release.
This still doesn't make any sense... but let me throw some of my own wild speculations at you. Nintendo has been seeing a few problems, what with being behind a whole console generation and being forced to drop Wii U prices before the normal amount of waiting time. Meanwhile, Xbox 360s and PS3s have dropped in prices. Sony has recently expanded the age range of their line-up by really plundering Little Big Planet for what it's worth, and attempting their own brawler (similar to Smash Bros.), and the Xbox Kinect is a hit among little kids. Parents really like that they can get their kids to wear themselves out (something the parents want) while the kids get to play games (what the kids want), the Kinect is kind of a win-win thing for families.
Nintendo could lose it's family friendly throne, and Microsoft and Sony are poised to take their place. If Microsoft and Sony do release their consoles early, it could be to further knock Nintendo off their throne. The Wii U does have certain functionality that would make it a perfect fit for large families, but since a few key launch titles have been delayed Nintendo might have some struggling to do instead of just dominating the family market.
It seems a little odd that Microsoft and Sony would work together for anything, let alone to get an edge on their mutual major competitor, but they are likely independently smelling blood in the water. Though the certain and soon rise of the Steam Box from Valve could mean some troubles for both Microsoft and Sony. Pro gamer types usually stay away from Nintendo and could soon be staying away from Xbox and PlayStation. Everything is going to be happening this year. The console market is going to go from a few choices to many, many choices. Each company will need whatever advantage they could get.
image from cnet.com.au