It's been hinted at for months, and some prototypes have even popped up on the Internet that suggest what they might be up to, but thus far, Microsoft hasn't said a word about their next Xbox game system. It's not like they really need to, as the Xbox 360 is still high enough in popularity that it could keep going for years to come. But, eventually, Microsoft will announce its next foray into the hardware market, and with that, create a level of innovation that the competition will no doubt scramble to match.
While we're big fans of the Xbox 360 system, there are some things that could use a bit of improvement in the next model, so we put our heads together and came up with some ideas as to what should go into the next console. That doesn't mean they're guaranteed to end up there, but it'd sure be nice if they did.
Without further ado, HERE'S WHAT WE WANT!
A return to social interaction
For a while there, the Xbox 360 was perfect when it came to interacting with other users on the service. For instance, the free-to-play game show 1 vs. 100 was excellent when it came to making new friends, while also giving the opportunity to win prizes. And then there was Netflix Party, which was awesome, as people could join together in a virtual living room and watch whatever they wanted, whether it was a Breaking Bad marathon or Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. (We have simple tastes, heh.)
Somewhere along the way, Microsoft canned these services in favor of more popular apps like ESPN and, most recently, a Karaoke channel. Novel ideas, to be sure, but with the new model, they need to bring back that social angle with more game shows, more Avatar interactivity, and, most importantly, the return of Netflix party. Why they got rid of that is beyond us.
Less loading times
One huge annoyance with me and my Xbox 360 is having to wait several minutes before my entire game library, or even some Marketplace menus, load up. I understand that I have a pretty big collection of digital games on there, but I also have a bunch for the PlayStation 3, and they load up in a matter of seconds.
For the next system model, Microsoft should implement a processor that doesn't make it such a hassle to load up menus and game selections. That way, we won't have to wait to join our friends for a session of SSX, or to do battle with others in Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle Earth. There should be less time for waiting and more time for playing. This is, after all, still a game console, above everything else.
Better Kinect Implementation
The original Kinect is a very good device, even though some developers out there are going about it all wrong when it comes to making games that really involve users. But it's not a perfect technology, especially when it comes to needing a whole lot of space to accurately read your motions. So, of course, with a Kinect 2 already being rumored for the next Xbox model, we have some suggestions.
First off, it should be built with a wider range, so players will have a little room to run for some of their games, particularly sports titles. Secondly, it should also allow for up-close movement. I don't mean like five inches away from it, but with enough reasonability that you can be in front of your game system and not, say, 30 yards out. Finally, it should have better calibration tools. Maybe make a mini-game out of it so it's not so, well, science-like.
This is a big one. When Microsoft announced backwards compatibility for the Xbox 360, it only did so with a select number of titles, not the entire original Xbox library. This was a bummer for some players out there, who had to hastily part with certain games in their library.
For the next model, Microsoft should spare no expense, and should allow EVERYTHING to be backwards compatible. From the early-on Xbox 360 releases like Ridge Racer 6 and Call of Duty 2, to the most recent releases, to the entire selection of Xbox Live Arcade games (well, the ones in the store now, anyway) and digital titles, everything should be playable without the need of a software update. They can obviously get it done in the hardware, so here's to hoping it happens.
A lot of people aren't that finicky when it comes to playing movies on their game console, but it's a matter of convenience. And Microsoft is obviously willing to work with certain technologies with their system, as they proved with their short-lived HD-DVD add-on device.
Of course, we'll suggest that they somehow include the power of Blu-Ray in their machine. Yeah, it's usually considered a "Sony thing", but think about it. Number one, it can play movies, which are slowly but surely growing in popularity. Number two, developers have more room in which to make their games, so they can do away with those annoying disc swaps. And, finally, it can open doors for new development ideas. Can you imagine how stunning Halo 5 would be in a Blu-Ray format?
Better Digital Purchase Options
Finally, of course, with any new product, it's good to offer services that really matter. And here, Microsoft can really go the distance by offering games on the same day and date as their retail product, along with a big enough hard drive (1 TB's not asking too much, I feel) to store it all. It'd also help to have more movie and music purchase options available, as well as the opportunity to purchase through either points or real funds – why do away with the point system now when there are still cards on the shelves?
These are just suggestions, but here's hoping that Microsoft takes them under advisement and makes their next piece of hardware the best yet. Xbox 720, awayyyyyy!