The Xbox 360 hardware upgrades and the 360 Elite
Ye gods, this one is immense. The epic saga of Microsoft’s upgrades to the Xbox 360 actually started in 2006, but given that it took in all of 2007 and still continues to this day, we feel that its obscenely dragged-out nature makes it a spectacular debacle well worthy of inclusion on this list.
Back in July 2006, photos appeared online allegedly showing an HDMI port grafted onto a 360 motherboard. Interesting, but easily likely to be a fanboy hoax. After all, gamers had wanted the full 1080p HD capabilities of the connection since the 360’s launch, and Sony’s upcoming PS3 was already proudly flaunting its HDMI capability in Microsoft’s face. But then in January 2007 the big ball of stealth-failure really started rolling when Endadget got hold of a leaked photo of a finished 360 with the port clearly shown on the back. They also heard a rumour of a bigger 120 Gb hard drive and the inclusion of a smaller, cooler, 65nm processor to combat the good old red ring o’ death.
At this point, the rumour mill started throwing things up faster than a drunk on a rollercoaster. We heard claims that MS had leaked information on the new Xbox to a retailer in Australia. A supposed scan of a page from Game Informer’s April issue appeared online seeming to confirm the machine’s existence. We got more alleged leaks from MS, this time seeming to come from an XNA developer. The official announcement of the Xbox 360 Elite came very soon after, and not a single person was surprised.
But it doesn’t stop there. No, the HDMInsanity continued with rumours of the port being scheduled to appear on the Premium machine too. Inside sources and retail informants went to work over summer and the whole process started again. But when the story turned out to be true, the confirmation came completely at random. On the 8th of August, a gamer in Atlanta picked up a 360 and found the port installed. Just sitting there. No big announcement, no song and dance. When contacted, Microsoft simply made a low-key admission and left it at that.
Oh, and in August and September we got confusing hints of an HDMI-enabled Core unit as well. Duck and cover people, duck and cover right now...