With mounting evidence that a new Xbox will be announced sometime this year, we’ve started making a list of things that would make Microsoft's next console truly awesome. Some of the items on this list are features of the Xbox 360; others are items that we want to see put in the new system. While there’s no guarantee that any of these items will be a part of the next Xbox, we can at least still dream that Microsoft is paying attention to our requests!
Our old games should still work and be downloadable.
When the Xbox 360 launched, downloadable games and content were the cornerstone of the system. Games like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved played better than some of the on-disc launch games (lookin’ at you, Ridge Racer). Downloadable content kept system sellers fresh for months (if not years). With all of the content I’ve bought digitally on my 360s, that shit had better be transferrable to my next box. We shouldn’t have to keep our Xbox 360s in storage to play Rock Band 3 because Microsoft doesn’t want to support the last generation. That’s not part of the deal we made when downloading gigabytes of games and DLC.
Voice commands for everything not game related.
Although all of the Kinect’s features are less than perfect, the voice command system is a revolutionary feature. To be able to control our TVs, video games, and streaming services with simple voice commands is the future of living room entertainment. The next Xbox should not only continue voice controls, but they should be standardized across the platform. Each app or game should have the same set of commands and interface. Finally, the Xbox needs a voice command that allows the system to go from idle stop to turn itself on. It would be awesome if we could walk right into our living rooms and just say “Xbox” and the console comes to life.
An inexpensive patch system.
While blockbuster titles developed by large corporations have sold a majority of the games on the Xbox 360, this generation saw a revolutionary shift in gamer interest for independent games. Microsoft had a lot to do with that shift and did a wonderful job of introducing gamers to indie darlings such as LIMBO, Braid, Fez, and Minecraft. However, one of the biggest limitations Microsoft placed on the developers of these games was a patch system that cost these devs far too much money. Games that should have seen multiple patches and updates were left to rot unpolished because of financial limitations. If Microsoft wants to continue to be the best console for indie games (outside PC), they need to institute a less expensive patch system to keep these indie devs afloat.
A marketplace that better represents the market.
Considering this is the first generation of gaming consoles with an integrated Marketplace, the Xbox 360 does a lot of things right for gamers. Unfortunately, the pricing of Xbox content is all out of whack. Games that can be bought new in the store for $10-$20 are still $40-$50 on the Xbox Marketplace. Games that can be found on sale on Steam for under $10 are still full price on Xbox Live. It is obvious that pricing on the marketplace is not fluid, not managed by the producers of the games, and in need of a major overhaul. When a six-year-old game like RoboBlitz that no one plays is still full-price, it’s obvious that the service lacks someone in charge of actually getting games sold.
Calm down on the adverts on the Dashboard.
When the Xbox 360 launched the service had zero ads on the Dashboard. Now, you can’t load a slide without a stinkin’ ad hiding somewhere. While the ads are quiet and not too obnoxious, keep in mind that Gold users are paying to be presented ads. Most other services remove ads for their pro-level users. If Microsoft is hard pressed to show ads because their gold tier isn’t making enough money, they need to cut back a little bit. Not every page needs an ad and for those of us buying their new console at launch, it won’t be very encouraging if we’re clobbered with ads.
Apps shouldn’t suffer because of mandatory Kinect design requirements.
Have you ever tried to navigate Netflix on your Xbox 360? Have you tried it on any other system? Well, it’s pretty apparent that the design of the app on the Xbox is horrendously hampered by being forced to use the Kinect. Users shouldn’t have to struggle with an app just because 2% of users want to use their hands to browse their queues. Microsoft really needs to tone down the mandatory motion control rules on their apps. It’ll just make their system that much more user-friendly.
Spotify/Google Drive/Amazon Music please!
Since the launch of the Xbox 360, multiple music streaming services have hit the market. Pandora, Spotify, and personal cloud storage have bumped the rest of the competition off of the map. Looking at the next gen, Microsoft should really open up their media support and allow Spotify, Pandora, and cloud music providers on their platform. Sure, Microsoft has a music service; however, ask yourself this, do you actually know anyone that uses it? Right. That’s about as many people that use the Sony Music service. None. Wake up and smell the ad revenue Microsoft!
My peripherals should still work.
With the huge success music games, peripherals were all of the rage this generation. Anyone who shared their console with friends and family likely has a whole closet full of plastic instruments. Not only that, I have multiple controllers, battery packs, battery chargers, and even an HD-DVD drive. Seriously, if Microsoft doesn’t support my stockpile of add-ons, I will be far less likely to buy any more plastic crap from them!
Lastly, deliver what you promise...
Remember in 2006 when we had a sit down chat with J. Allard about the glorious future of the Xbox 360. Gamers would be able to sell content to one another on a virtual marketplace. Remember when the Kinect was first shown to us and the world of first-person shooters would be revolutionized. Milo would make us cry. Right. Look, I know that getting everything you mention in a press conference into reality is challenging. But, at least try. And, if you can’t deliver on a promise, come clean and tell us that the bullet point we’re hoping for just isn’t a reality (for whatever reason).
Header image courtesy of allgamesbeta.com.
Alex Keen is a contributor to CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @dbldn.