You probably shouldn’t believe everything that you read online. We’re in what’s commonly referred to in other industries as the ‘silly season’ right now, an exciting period of speculation where even the most ridiculous rumours take on heightened meanings. With new next generation platforms looming, everyone wants a piece of the pie; that undeniably leads to a barrage of misinformation, speculation, and overreactions. But could the latest round of conjecture surrounding Microsoft’s impending machine help the PlayStation 4, regardless of whether it turns out to be true or false?

Much of the speculation pointed at Sony’s incoming system has painted a predominantly positive picture thus far. A recent Digital Foundry report – based on leaked specifications – concluded that the PS4 is “tighter, more powerful, [and] more games-focused” than its immediate counterpart, an insinuation that’s also been backed by typically rock solid sources such as EDGE. The console is supposedly much less complex than the infamously clunky PlayStation 3, with development sources informing the aforementioned British publication that the system is “very simple to work with”.

Those that have followed this generation closely will be well aware that the CELL processor has been something of a poisoned chalice for the PS3. While the complicated architecture has prompted the production of some of the best looking first-party exclusives arguably ever conceived, it’s also led to its fair share of humdrum hand-me-down ports, too. If the PlayStation brand is to recapture its former glory, it will need to do so with high-quality third-party releases in its library, and rumours suggest that the platform holder may have that all-important advantage in its stable this term.

Such positive speculation – fabricated or not – is having an impact on the anticipation for Sony’s incoming machine. Stumble into any major gaming forum, and you may find the pendulum swinging in PS4’s favour. Perhaps that’s because the system is just over a week away from being announced – but could the slew of abhorrent rumours surrounding Microsoft’s in-development console also be playing a part?

According to EDGE’s development sources, the next Xbox will “require an online connection in order to function, ruling out the second-hand game market for the platform”. Discs will supposedly ship with activation codes, rendering them useless beyond the initial owner. Considering the backlash to current generation practices such as the online pass, it’s hard to imagine the market being particularly accommodating of such an anti-consumer practice. The same rumour has been attributed to the PS4, of course, but that was merely based upon a patent registration. There’s been no indication that Sony’s console will actually block used games, which could give the system a huge advantage if Microsoft swings the other way.

However, that’s not necessarily the least of Xbox’s woes. A recent article posted by Kotaku – citing prolific leaker SuperDAE – claimed that the console will require mandatory game installations and will only operate when a Kinect sensor is plugged into the machine. It’s thought that by enforcing the divisive peripheral – which is likely to be bundled with the system – developers will be able to put the device to better use. However, the reaction to the report has been overwhelmingly negative in hardcore gaming circles, with the mere notion of the motion camera being mandatory pushing consumers away. The PS4 console is rumoured to ship with an updated PlayStation Eye camera, but there’s no word on it being a compulsory component at the moment.

Of course, the criticisms remain conjecture until Microsoft confirms otherwise, but with the Xbox manufacturer unwilling to even acknowledge the existence of its next generation platform, it gives Sony an opportunity to capitalise on the ambiguity surrounding its competitor’s machine. If the platform holder can effectively demonstrate on 20th February that it has built a compelling, technologically impressive and, importantly, consumer-friendly piece of hardware, then it has an outstanding amount of goodwill to gain. And that puts the manufacturer in the driver’s seat for the time being.

Are rumours affecting your excitement for the PS4 and next Xbox? What are your biggest concerns regarding the next generation? Let us know in the comments section below.