Nice catch by PC World this morning, digging up a series of job posts on LinkedIn that show Microsoft staffing up the Xbox team responsible for “next generation console architectures” — which translates into a successor to the Xbox 360, or an evolution of it.
What really caught my eye wasn’t the fact that Microsoft is hiring but instead the clear interest in 3D gaming technologies demonstrated by one of the postings. This is one area where Sony’s PlayStation 3 has been out ahead of Microsoft, and it’s notable that the Redmond company actively preparing, at least, to move in that direction.
“The ideal candidate should have a broad background in 3D graphics rendering architectures and algorithms (ideally with gaming applications in mind), 3D software pipelines, and physics,” reads the job listing, adding later, “The ideal candidate will have been the lead architect and/or implementation lead of a 3D graphics core.”
I’m still a skeptic on 3D content in the living room in general, until there’s an inexpensive, glasses-free technology that works really well. But I believe video games are the exception in the short term. Gamers are accustomed to wearing goofy equipment, like headsets, so glasses won’t be much of a stretch. I also had a brief experience with a 3D console game recently that convinced me of the value, particularly in shooters.
The combination of Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor and 3D would be pretty wicked. Or at least nauseatingly good.
PC World’s Matt Peckham interprets another job listing, focusing on the on-board console silicon, to suggest that is “not really persuaded by the whole cloud-streaming-games phenomenon.” But it’s more likely that the company will continue to apply its “software-plus-services” model here — leveraging both the cloud and local processing at the same time to try to improve the experience.
On Windows PCs, that approach is also evident with hardware-accelerated graphics in the upcoming Internet Explorer 9, which should do some interesting things for web-based games.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on the job postings, and we’ll update this post depending on the response.
Update: The official word from Microsoft: “We’re always looking for talented people to join the Xbox team and help us to innovate Xbox 360. We don’t have any further comment on this or any other job posting.”