Third Xbox won’t be unveiled this E3 or released in 2012

Microsoft announced today that its next console will not be shown at this June’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, nor will it be launching in calendar year 2012. Bloomberg‘s Dina Bass relayed a message from Microsoft Corporate Public Relations Manager David Dennis over Twitter earlier in the day explaining that that the Xbox 360′s successor would not be displayed or discussed at this year’s E3 or “anytime soon.” Dennis stopped short of completely ruling out showing/announcing it later in 2012, but his words seemed to strongly imply as much. Additionally, such a move would draw attention away from the holiday 360 games and would therefore seem to make little sense.

It is a revelation that should finally silence the tsunami of rumors and stories that have originated from “insider sources” and claimed the exact opposite these past months. Speaking of insider sources — of which there never seems to be any shortage of when the topic of next generation is broached — Bloomberg has also learned from anonymous parties that the next Xbox’s first appearance is currently not planned until E3 of next year. Those same tipsters also believe the console will hit the market at an unknown point in 2013. Yet, as has been a common theme with Microsoft’s next home gaming platform, rumors and plans are constantly in flux.

No doubt aware of the media storm and public reaction that Dennis’ words would incite, the console-maker then released a more detailed explanation. The Washington-based firm showed its desire to keep consumer focus on its current console in the year ahead, rather than scare the market by prematurely discussing specifics of what the public has come to jokingly refer to as the “Xbox 720.”

While we appreciate all the interest in our long-range plans for the future, we can confirm that there will be no talk of new Xbox hardware at E3 or anytime soon. For us, 2012 is all about Xbox 360-and it’s the best year ever for Xbox 360. The console is coming off its biggest year ever-a year in which Xbox outsold all other consoles worldwide. Xbox 360 didn’t just outsell other consoles, it also outsold all other TV-connected devices like DVD players, as well as digital media receivers and home theatre systems. And in our seventh year, we sold more consoles than in any other year-defying convention.

This year, we will build on that Xbox 360 momentum. With ‘Halo 4,’ ‘Forza Horizon,’ ‘Fable: The Journey,’ and other great Kinect games on the way, our 2012 Xbox lineup is our strongest ever. This year, we will deliver more TV, music, and movie experiences for Xbox 360-as we’ll make it even easier to find and control your all entertainment. And this year, Xbox games, music, and video are coming to Windows 8 so people can enjoy their Xbox entertainment wherever they go.

Microsoft had previously been content to lean heavily on the standard PR line about not commenting on rumors or speculation, so this firm denial of a 2012 reveal and release came as a surprise to many who had just recently heard the rumblings about the console possibly not having a disc drive and being code-named Durango. MCV even pointed out that there was talk of a clandestine dinner meeting between Xbox management and prominent third-party developers during the Game Developers Conference to discuss next-gen plans.

Michael Pachter, an industry analyst with Wedbush Securities, Inc., echoed Microsoft’s vote of confidence in its current home console. “They’re still selling a lot of Xbox 360, and they’re making money,” Pachter told Bloomberg. “I don’t think the world needs them to put a new console out just because we’re bored.”

Clearly, he’s not the only one who feels that way. Still, plenty of gamers will likely be disappointed by today’s news given that it will be seven years this November since the Xbox 360 launched, and gamers have spent the last two-and-a-half decades getting used to the idea of new machines every four to six years.

Ultimately, however, the “when to launch” decision all comes down to two main factors, one of them being the numbers game. With the Xbox 360 snagging 42 percent of the domestic console market in February, the numbers make a compelling argument for Microsoft to wait this one out a bit yet. The 460,000 units that Microsoft was able to sell in the U.S. last month ensured that it continued its one-year streak as the top-selling home gaming platform on the market. Compounding that is the $115 USD profit that Pachter estimates they make off of each new 360 sold for $300 USD.

Consumer perception and desire are of course important to America’s only console manufacturer, but it is through the sales numbers that any company extrapolates most of its data on market desires. That being said, the competition can’t be ignored, either. With Sony flatly stating last month that the PlayStation 4 will also skirt a 2012 reveal and launch, its main console rival opened the door for Microsoft to play things close to the chest.

On the other hand, an argument could be made that Nintendo’s imminent Wii U launch this holiday season poses a threat, especially considering the Big N’s stated desire to recapture the core gamer market. Despite the Wii all but cementing its place as the best-selling console when this generation does ultimately come to an end, though, many questions remain as to whether or not Kyoto, Japan-based Nintendo is truly about to launch a system that will legitimately challenge the Xbox’s position as the home console of choice for hard core gamers.

Whether the oldest console-maker around will end up encroaching on Microsoft’s ground is all but irrelevant at this current juncture, however. The American third of the Big Three is apparently not worried enough about losing serious ground as a result of being beaten to the market by Nintendo to rush the launch of its next console. For now at least, Microsoft will wait; and so will the rest of the world.

Sources: Bloomberg, Kotaku and MCV

About Nick Santangelo

Nick has been a gamer since the 8-bit days and has been reporting on the games industry since 2011. He is not to be interrupted while questing his way through an RPG or desperately clinging to hope against all reason that his Philly sports teams will win any given game he may be watching. Find Nick Santangelo on Google+ and Twitter.