9 Wishes for Microsoft’s Next Xbox, Whatever It’s Called

Here's what I'd like to see a new Xbox-whatever-it's-called embrace.

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Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Citing the usual sources-who-shall-remain-nameless, Bloomberg reports what everyone’s been assuming all year — that Microsoft‘s going to launch its next game system sometime in late 2013. All that seems left to deduce, then, is when Microsoft’s going to lift the curtain: at the E3 video games expo in June, or a Microsoft-specific event.

I was hoping they’d wait another year or two, frankly, since nothing about the Xbox 360 feels dated to me, but assuming 2013′s now inevitable, here’s what I’d like to see a new Xbox-whatever-it’s-called embrace.

Don’t make graphics the selling point. I don’t care about better graphics. Not the way I used to, back when all the cool kids had 3dfx video cards and pass-through cables, and ran special executables to make Quake and Tomb Raider look extra-nifty on PCs.

You can make the argument that Skyrim and Oblivion were just prettier versions of Morrowind, that Grand Theft Auto IV was an easier-on-the-eyes repeat of Grand Theft Auto III, that BioShock was a mass-market version of System Shock and that both Halo 3 and Halo 4 were Halo re-skinned (settle down, I liked Skyrim, GTA IV, BioShock and those two Halos plenty).

I’m just saying that if what’s next amounts to Call of Duty: Photo Ops or The Graphically Mind-Blowing Scrolls or Halo’s Awesome New Polygon Parade, well, that hamster wheel’s getting pretty tiresome, isn’t it? For all the guff we give the Wii about its last-gen hardware, some of the most interesting games this generation — hello Super Mario GalaxyXenoblade Chronicles, Metroid Prime 3, The Last Story and Zelda: Skyward Sword – are on Nintendo’s no-one-plays-it/can’t-do-HD/still-better-selling-overall console.

Besides, I’m ready for something like Call of Duty: Not Tactically Brain-Dead at this point, aren’t you?

Don’t over-think Xbox LIVE. My favorite thing about the Xbox 360 isn’t the games, it’s the game-space they live in: the colored-tile interface, the simple but efficient friend system, the achievement hunt and gamer score overlay, Xbox LIVE Arcade and Xbox LIVE Marketplace’s top-notch indie fare. Whatever’s next still has to live in 1080p-land, just like the Xbox 360 (it’ll be awhile before we’re running ultra-HD TVs, and current HD has a lowest common denominator of 720p). Given how well Xbox LIVE and the Xbox GUI work already, I’m not sure we need a radical reinvention when the next Xbox arrives.

Unbundle stuff that isn’t intrinsic to Xbox LIVE. Netflix isn’t. Neither are Hulu Plus, Skype, YouTube or Amazon Instant Video. Sony got this right on the PlayStation 3 by drawing a friendlier paywall between free and paid apps. Microsoft continues to get it wrong, however much it wants to crow about Xbox LIVE’s financial success. Of course you’re going to pay $60 a year for all the other legitimately Xbox LIVE-paywalled features — stuff like Party Chat, Cloud Storage, Xbox Music and most of all, multiplayer/matchmaking. It’s the principle that’s galling: having to pay to access apps no one else charges for. (Alternately, just scrap the dichotomy and make Xbox LIVE membership a requirement, period — you’d probably tick a few people off, but at least you’d be consistent.)

Fix Kinect. I’ve never been a great fan of Kinect as shipped — not in the living room, anyway. It may be a creative boon for tinkerers on the PC side, no argument there, but as a gestural interface, it’s more like The Clapper 2.0 (even as a voice command interface, it’s still slower and less dependable than a remote). Of course Kinect’s going to improve, but if Microsoft wants my vote, I want real accuracy — none of this shoddy 75%-of-the-time stuff. When I’m not rolling it out for party-novelty-hour, it’s just too sloppy. And regardless of any of that, please understand that I will never, ever want to play air-Gears-of-War (but that yes, I’d love to play controller-free, family-style games that work all of the time).

Don’t just roll out Apple TV, Xbox-style. Apple TV, Roku, Google TV, existing game consoles — no one’s got the interactive TV thing figured out yet. Part of the problem, whatever the business arguments for or against, is that people really want a la carte TV programming from a live TV box — to subscribe to HBO and Showtime, say, but not CBS, ABC or NBC, or to have CNN and C-SPAN but nothing else. Trouble is, providing anything like a la carte service is currently out of Apple’s and Microsoft’s and Google’s hands.

Barring that, people at least deserve streaming content portals that don’t routinely shuffle content in and out (as both Netflix and Hulu do) because of licensing/financial issues. Whether Xbox TV turns out to be a standalone, budget-priced, Windows 8 set-top that only plays casual games or it’s included in the core system, if it’s just another overlay for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, with live TV folded in and a few nifty interactive features on the side, the only place we’re boldly going is the status quo.

This rumor about augmented reality glasses makes me nervous. I know Google’s already teasing the tech, but anything I have to wear while gaming, especially around my head…let’s just say we’re all pretty gun-shy after decades of awful “virtual reality” gear, not to mention the recent stereoscopic 3D craze (arguably a gimmick to sell TVs and charge a premium for movie tickets). If this is happening, it can’t be gimmicky, and it can’t be like Kinect, i.e. novelty before functionality.

Blu-ray would be nice, but isn’t necessary. Sure, Blu-ray and DVD still offer extras streaming providers don’t, like commentary tracks and making-of featurettes, but I’m tired of upgrading each time the standard changes (just wait until ultra-HD arrives). Yes, the next Xbox needs more media space so we’re not seeing multi-disc games or ugly compressed video (hello Final Fantasy XIII), but as Nintendo’s shown, you can accomplish that without embracing a playback standard. Were it between having Blu-ray playback and lopping $50 or more off the retail price tag, I’ll vote for no Blu-ray.

Make sure it’s good and finished. Don’t pull a Wii U and force everyone to download a massive day-one patch as soon as they connect to the Internet, which even then doesn’t provide all the functionality you hyped beforehand.

Yes please, call it simply “Xbox.” What else is there to say? I’m tired of numbers. And it’s a whole lot simpler than “Xbox Begins.”

17 comments
jingchang
jingchang

Dont get how you could name the new console xbox when theres already "xbox".

TimeKeepsTicking
TimeKeepsTicking

You know Blu-Ray is not as bad as people might think it is. I agree with other posters that it's a pain the ass to swap discs for the XBox. Games are getting bigger and bigger in data size and having just a internet connection would be only a plus if you have a good internet connection and some people out in the rurals just don't have that luxury and it would take a loooong time to download a game that 5GB or more in the future. Does anybody want to wait for 2+ hours for a download to play a required always on connection for these games, because I'll guarantee you that this will happen. DRM on discs is bad enough as it is... 

anonymiss19
anonymiss19

live? i will never pay for xbox live. never,.,... i'm one of those that will be p-off,. well, if i bought the thing which i probly wont cuz i dont even use the 360 i have.. so burned out on it all. give me a bat and a ball or maybe a 22 and a couple hundred rounds. sounds so much funner.

mr.showtime9
mr.showtime9

I'd have to agree with the author on the blue ray drive. More and more games are being made available to download straight to the hard drive, and blu ray through licensing would tack on another 60-80 dollars. And to me blu ray is overhyped. Who wants to pay 25 dollars for a movie you might watch 5 times? 1080p streaming on Friday for 3 bucks is good enough. It really is a catch though: to make a cheaper and graphically better console, leave out the drive. If you actually want to play the graphic games put in the drive.

For the Xbox, Gamerscores should give rewards in credits. Period. This would at least give a backbone to the justification of 60 dollars a year for gaming. You might be able to get it back in free games And movie rentals ( I was thinking 1 credit for every 5 Gamerscores points). This may seem like a waste of profit to MS but think about it: to earn credits, you must earn a good Gamerscore, to earn a better score, you must BUY MORE GAMES. The more games sold, the better the games, the better the developers. From here MS raises their % off the top by 5% and they've just made a profit

We also might be forgetting the potential of Kinect. Remember the demo where they scanned their own gear into the game? Remember Milo? What if voice commands actually worked? And what if Artificial Intelligence could finally be implemented into console games? THIS is the deminsion I want to explore, not the deminsion of my living room. To feel a little regret when I let a computer player get shredded by zombies or to feel more success when I save someones life is all I'm asking. Mowing down people in COD and Halo isn't enough anymore.

I also want my next Xbox to be my next cable box and DVR. It is NOT in Comcast, DirectTV, Dish Network, or any other cable providers best interest to go through hardware companies and have them build boxes. They would much rather create an application that brings the television to millions of consoles already in circulation, have you choose the type of bundle you want, then watch TV. No handymen, no cable boxes, no lost money. A couple of months ago I remember MS getting a patent for multitasking on a game console. If I could switch from Halo to ESPN to Facebook and back to Halo with the same remote and without shutting the game down, I'm sold. And imagine having your Windows Phone and watching what's on your Xbox DVR, or even stream the cable, with your Gold membership. THAT would be an ecosystem to die for (I'm one of those people that said MS should've made an xPhone to battle the iPhone)

I'm sure the next consoles will have ultra HD support (the 360 didn't originally support 1080p). So bring on the next gen. Hopefully they live up to expectations

Tim88
Tim88

$50? It's around $9 per console, and $0.50 per game

DanMan'99
DanMan'99

Yeah, microsoft points need to go. It's very cumbersome to buy using them, considering they are sold in 400, 800, and 1600 only.

KyleAment
KyleAment

Is this guy high?  $50 bucks for a blu ray drive on a device you will have for 5+ years seems like a fine investment for me.  And what does he mean we dont need new consoles yet?  The hardware has been maxed out since Gears 2 and COD 4, every sequal is just a rehash of last years game due to hardware limitations, the developers simply cannot do anymore.  Look at Battlefield 3, OUTSTANDING on P.C, lousy framerate,smaller maps, less destruction, worse graphics on XBOX AND PS3.  This thing needs to be future proof, i do not want to play the same call of duty's with different skins for 2013 through 2020.  Give it a Hex Core processor, 4GB of ram, and Dual Graphics cards!  If its 500 dollars i dont mind as long as it is future proof and not outdated by PC's in 2 years...

jecky11hyd3
jecky11hyd3

Do away with MS points once and for all.

Simplify the interface

I know people will disagree with me but I would prefer an xbox that just plays games and nothing else, even if it means putting out more than one version a stripped down version that just plays games and one with all the netflix/twitter/facebook clutter for those that want it.

pnbsi
pnbsi

LOL you don't care about better graphics? I'm sorry to say, Matt, but you might as well entitle this article "Matt's 9 Wishes for Microsoft’s Next Xbox, Whatever It’s Called".

The vast majority of Xbox gamers cares very much about graphics. Maybe Wii gamers like the experience more than the graphics, but the Xbox community... we enjoy our graphics. 

MarcWeese
MarcWeese

you know what else would be nice is an optional external 5 disc DVD player so I donthave to get and swap discs out when I want to play different games.  ok thats it.

MarcWeese
MarcWeese

I want Blu Ray capability so I dont have to purchase a seperate player to take up another HDMI port on my tv.

More usb ports so I can hook up wireless keyboard and maybe a mouse.

Lastly make it FASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Klarke
Klarke

I don't know. I like the idea of blu-ray. It's a popular format for many reasons, and makes XBox a little more useful for those who plan on using it. At the moment, I don't think consoles will be capable of UHD for quite a while at an affordable price, and no one I know even has an Ultra High Definition TV. i get what you're saying, though. The article's not meant to be taken so seriously. I, personally, really like the Wii U and think as long as Microsoft and Sony don't jump on board and piggy-back asynchronous gaming, Nintendo will have that special something for years and years to come. The DS has been doing it for 8 years in America, and people still thought asynchronous gaming was a stupid idea when the Wii U released. I think a lot of people forgot that the DS franchise has been doing it for 8 years so successfully that no one else has even tried.

edfromred
edfromred

Great article, loving my Xbox. Plan on getting the next gen version as soon as it's in stores. 

   The only bone of contention I have is with the article is the "Blu-ray would be nice, but isn't necessary" portion. I think Blu-Ray is a must have. Many  games this gen need multiple DVD's on the Xbox, and with games getting bigger and prettier, the DVD format can't handle the increase in data. Unless you ship each game with a dozen DVD disks, Blu Ray seems to be the best choice.

 I would also like to see the next Xbox embrace the MMO realm. Besides my Xbox, the most gaming time I spend is on the PC in MMO's. The current lack of mainstream MMO's on the Xbox, means a lot of gamer's who play MMO's exclusively ignore the Xbox entirely. 

DanMan'99
DanMan'99

I wouldn't care the slightest bit if Kinect was thrown out the window. There needs to be much better graphics and ram, but please add something else that's a good selling point that isn't Nintendo-style gimmicks or making the shift to 100% digital now. Do you know how many people who have an Xbox 360 who don't want to pay the $60 a year for Xbox live? A whole lot.

JordonSandoval
JordonSandoval

@anonymiss19 Maybe you should pick up a book as well so you don't butcher the English language with non-words like "funner."

KyleAment
KyleAment

@pnbsi Every Gamer cares about graphics, the casual market (Wii) tend to not care as much.  But trust me, the millions of people who play Halo, Gears and COD for 5+ days of gameplay would love better graphics.  This author is CLEARLY not a gamer, cannot imagine why he wrote the article...