UPDATE: EA denies the report, but then again, of course it would. What, you think it'd admit to having the next Xbox in its possession? Not hardly. So, in the end, you're free to either believe it has it or believe that it doesn't. It's Schrödinger's Xbox.
With Nintendo poised to reveal its next home console at E3 in a few weeks, we shouldn't expect other hardware developers to rest on their laurels. Word has it via Develop that Electronic Arts has its collective hands on a very early version of Microsoft's next Xbox and is hard at work on first-generation titles for the new system. A 2012 release is supposedly targeted with a surprise reveal slated for E3 this year.
The successor to the Xbox 360 console is on desks at an unnamed Electronic Arts studio, Develop understands. The new hardware, sent to EA last month, is a very early build with no casing – it is in fact being stored inside a PC shell. EA developers are getting to grips with the tech to create first-generation software, Develop has been told.
Specifications for the device are not available, for now. Develop understands that the hardware will feature enhanced support for Kinect with just a couple of alterations.
This isn't entirely unexpected. Hardware marches on, and if Nintendo kickstarts the next hardware generation next year, Microsoft (which was first to launch this generation with the Xbox 360) presumably won't want to sit out the firing of the starter pistol. I couldn't begin to know what EA may or may not be working on with that prototype hardware, but my first-glance guesses are either a new edition of Madden football or more from Medal of Honor. Those are both franchises that cater to the typical Xbox demographic and are the kinds of titles that EA wants to see grow bigger and better with each release. However, feel free to drum up Dead Space 3 or Mirror's Edge 2 rumors. I won't stop you, and the resulting buzz would help drive overall anticipation and fan fervor for the new hardware. The crazy pre-E3 rumor season starts now.