First Xbox 2 software to be unveiled tomorrow

Is Microsoft planning a very unconventional coming out party for Xbox 2?

With just over 24 hours to go before Microsoft’s Xbox press conference at GDC, word has reached us that the company may be planning to unveil the first demonstrations of Xbox 2 software in San Jose tomorrow.

It’s been known for some time that Microsoft plans to use the GDC press conference, which happens tomorrow morning at 11am Pacific Time, to talk about the Xbox 2 for the first time in public – but what exactly the company will be showing off is not known.

Development sources today indicated that Microsoft is not prepared to discuss details of the specification of the console in its announcement tomorrow, and will not be unveiling the actual hardware design either. It’s thought that the company is holding back on commenting on exact specification details until it has more concrete information about Sony’s plans for PlayStation 3.

Instead of hardware, then, Microsoft is expected to talk about software – and today sources indicated to us that when Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach takes to the stage in San Jose tomorrow morning, he will be accompanied by demonstrations of the first confirmed titles for Xbox 2.

A number of key Microsoft developers are thought to have prepared demonstrations for the event in video form, and fingers are pointing to companies including British developers Rare and Climax to have created content for the announcement. MechAssault creators Day 1 Studios are also known to be working on Xbox 2 software, so they’re another obvious contender – but Bungie and Lionhead (or Big Blue Box rather), both slaving away in the latter stages of key Xbox titles, are thought to be unlikely to have anything to show off.

If these rumours – which are absolutely in the realms of speculation for now – turn out to be true, then Microsoft would indeed have chosen an unconventional but telling manner in which to reveal its next generation plans. New platform announcements generally focus strongly on hardware rather than on software support; by revealing its software line-up before it has even finalised details of the hardware, Microsoft would be delivering a strong statement of intent regarding its commitment to remain focused on game software for its next platform.

Last week Microsoft Europe denied that the company was planning to show off the Xbox 2 at GDC – but earlier statements from the company’s Japanese office confirmed that Bach does indeed plan to discuss the next generation platform tomorrow.