Although the Xbox reveal is coming today, I thought I’d share my thoughts to anyone that still happens to read this blog (despite my not finishing many drafts of things I’d love to talk about). I don’t have a super in-depth list, and it’s not very gamer-oriented as I’m far from a true gamer, but here are something things that I think the Xbox should ideally have that I believe would appeal to most people. Here we go, in no specific order:
- 4K Ultra HD output – 4K displays are still not common yet, as they’re very expensive, but it seems that in maybe 4-5 years, it will be more common place based on news I’ve read. This would definitely help future-proof the Xbox, and give it a boost over the PS4. Unfortunately, I think Microsoft will likely wait until the generation after to give a solid reason to upgrade and I guess it makes more sense to wait until more living room displays actually use it, since it seems they use a lot of power to render in 4D. It’d be great for gaming, and watching videos if Xbox supported it natively, or at least do decent upscaling/optimization.
- BluRay Drive – Optical media isn’t dead, and it’s always nice to have something that can work without the Internet. BluRay discs can of course store more information, thus lessening the need of multiple discs. It’d be nice to watch movies from too. The ability to read 100 GB BDXL would be a major bonus too.
- Upgrade Kinect tech – Ideally, Kinect can work in more confined spaces just as well, and hopefully better capabilities (or game developers) so that games can use it more ways than ever, and it’d be great if a AAA game can (optionally) be operated entirely through it.
- Competitive pricing – Microsoft made the smart decision with the 360 generation to give the console a lower than profitable price, and make the money back through (pricey)accessories, Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, and Marketplace content. Ideally a range of $200-$500 for any variation of console types would be awesome. The lowest range supporting the base needs to run games properly with maybe low built-in storage, and the high-end of course having everything.
- x86-64 architecture – It’s how PCs operate on, the PS4 will operate on, and hopefully the next Xbox. Having the same architecture should ideally make it easier to develop games, where games can be deployed faster, with less issues, and more time could be focused on improving the games. Would also make sense if it will truly have more cross-platform integration with Windows itself.
- Fuller integration with Windows – I’d like to see more games capable of cross-platform play with Windows PC users, easily hook up or stream content from your PC to your Xbox (either wirelessly or through a cord), and a true “buy once, play anywhere” that is not crippled by only working on certain platforms or only working on just one platform period. I’m also hoping to see SmartGlass be used further in games too.
- Improved hardware – Goes without saying of course. It’d be nice to avoid the Red Ring of Death issues that plagued the early generation of Xbox 360s. I’m hoping to see a low power standby state, and low noise output from the console.
- Reduction of Xbox Live Gold price – Now that there are more Xbox users than ever, perhaps it’s time Microsoft could lower the price of Xbox Live Gold. Now I no budget analyst, but I’d like to think that Microsoft can make more revenue by lowering the price of Gold across the board and see more people pay in.
What I don’t want to see:
- A radical new game controller – It seems like most people like the Xbox controller for it’s ergonomics and whatnot. The d-pad is it’s only weak point that should be fixed. Maybe a charging port with an internal battery, though I guess not everyone would be a fan of that idea. But please no mini-screen on the controller. I do not see it offering much significant utility, and it will only shorten the controller’s battery life and make it ridiculous to use if the screen ever gets damaged. The use of another screen should only be optional with SmartGlass.
- Avatars – I always thought avatars looked kind of dumb. Not Xbox specifically, but in general. The idea of interacting in a ‘3D’ world on your console seems kind of dumb, but maybe there just hasn’t been enough work towards it. Case in point: the proposed Avatar Arcade that never got off the ground. I don’t think it will make it to the new Xbox either. It also seems to deviate away from Microsoft’s Metro (or Modern) philosophy of keep things simple and minimalistic, and avoiding skeuomorphism. I know it’ll suck for people that already bought into decorating and accessorizing their Avatars, but we need to move on. Or at least design better looking ones. I wouldn’t mind a flat 2D version that looked much better.
- Always online for DRM verification – It seems these rumors are already scrapped but we’ll see. If the PS4 isn’t doing it (which it doesn’t seem), then neither should Xbox for sure. Game companies need to use better methods than always online to play, because it’s pretty obvious that Internet will never be a constant element that will always work. If I can’t play because some online company can’t verify me, then I’m going to find alternatives. EA’s recent SimCity game has had many issues relating to going that route.