The mere utterances of the new Xbox and Playstation consoles, unofficially codenamed “Durango” and “Orbis” respectively, possibly being in development came to light earlier this year, and the rumor mill has been running at full speed ever since. Will the console lock out used games? Will it be digital download only? Will one system be more powerful than the other? All legitimate questions, to which there is one universal answer: we don’t know. It’s all rumor and speculation, however there may be some semi-concrete information that points to a possible release date for the consoles.

The specific details stem from a lawsuit involving Activision and former developers for the Call of Duty franchise. The details of the lawsuit itself are not half as interesting as the details of a contract between publisher Activision and game developer Bungie Inc, the minds behind the blockbuster Halo series. In this contract, the details of which have been released as they are germane to the lawsuit, reveal that Activision has contracted Bungie to produce four Sci-Fi themed shooters, to be released bi-yearly beginning in 2013.

According to the contract, the first game, codenamed “Destiny”, is earmarked for Fall 2013 for both the Xbox 360 and the potential successor, the Xbox 720. The Playstation 3 successor and the PC platform would see a release the following year. While details on the new consoles are scarce and limited to hearsay, their reference in a legal contract does give it a sheen of credibility. Can this be the news that the next-gen console fans have been waiting for? I wouldn’t get over-excited just yet.

The fact that the contract specifically makes reference to the Xbox 720 and the future Sony console is more concrete than information that has come before, however this should not be taken as proof that the consoles are on the way. This information could very well be based on inside information, however it could also just be contract clauses that are forward-thinking. The Xbox 360 is almost seven years old, the Playstation 3 is almost six, and if console life-cycles are anything to go by, it’s not a far leap to assume that a successor will come along during the contract period.

Like all of the previous news surrounding the next moves by Microsoft and Sony, this one sits in the “wait and see” pile. As exciting as it is to imagine the next wave of consoles and Bungie being active in the development of top-shelf games for it, there is little in the way of actual proof that these dates will be met. Microsoft has stated that there will be no console reveal at this year’s E3 expo, and Sony has been tight-lipped about anything relating to their future plans. All we can do now is sit, wait and speculate.

via[CNET]