Microsoft: Xbox event planned for May 21

The gaming world is about to get more interesting. Microsoft said Tuesday that it will be revealing the next generation of its Xbox console in an afternoon event on May 21.

In a company blog post, Microsoft director of programming Larry Hryb — better known to the gaming community as “Major Nelson” — displayed countdown to the event and said that it will be streamed live over, Xbox Live and broadcast live on Spike TV.

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Hryb said that the announcement at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus will “mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment.” But he also indicated that Microsoft won’t be giving out all the details about the console but just wants to whet gamers’ appetites.

Fuller details, Hryb said, will come in June at the game industry's Electronic Entertainment Expo.

This year’s show could be an exciting one, with both Microsoft and Sony telling consumers more about their next-generation consoles. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are both several years old, and gamers have been waiting to see how console makers update their devices to accommodate shifting game trends.

Sony shared its initial plans for the PlayStation 4 in February, promising a socially focused console that allows players to easily communicate with one another both in and outside of games, and that also provides a wider variety of non-gaming entertainment options.

Little is known about Microsoft’s new offering, though the company has been clear that it’s looking for ways to expand the Xbox’s role in the living room.

Microsoft executives had said that they want the console to become the “center of every household’s entertainment.”

It’s becoming more crucial for game consoles to have multiple uses, particularly as mobile gaming expands its share of the market.

On Wednesday, analysis firm IDC released a report saying that smartphone and tablet gamers willing to pay for games will outnumber those who use dedicated handheld gaming devices, such as Sony’s PlayStation Vita and Nintendo’s 3DS.

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