3 Things the Next Xbox Must Have

3 Things the Next Xbox Must Have

With rumors of a new Xbox already being manufactured, speculation has begun to run rampant through the industry as hypothesized technical specifications and other hardware-specific gossip circulates amongst gamers curious to see what Microsoft has in store for the future. While it’s a given that the next Xbox, whatever it’s called, will be a substantial leap forward in terms of technical prowess, it’s going to take a whole hell of a lot more than prettier graphics to sell a brand new console. Fortunately for Microsoft and you, my fellow gamers, I’ve broken down the ideal strategy for the software megacorporation to deliver a fresh gaming experience that will have geeks around the world rushing out on launch day.

1.) Digital Distribution at the Forefront of the Experience

Rumors of a purely digital, next-generation Xbox have been pretty standard for quite some time now, but the reasoning behind such an idea is extraordinarily sound. Although Microsoft certainly won’t want to find itself responsible for killing brick and mortar gaming stores, adopting the Steam digital distribution model could do wonders for gamers. When you give your userbase an easy, efficient, and convenient way to use your service (in this case, Xbox Live in the future) they will use it more. It’s essentially the same business strategy that companies like Valve and Apple employ: once they’ve got their hooks in you with a single product or service, you’ll find yourself wanting to purchase additional products that work well with that particular service. Microsoft needs to bring digital distribution to game consoles in a big way, and although Games on Demand was a step in the right direction, such a concept needs to be at the forefront of the entire experience.

With the constant shift towards cloud computing, this could be a serious selling point if purchased games were always available to the user. No more selling used games, no more concerns of piracy, the entire market would shift to a more profitable and convenient system that would benefit everyone. Of course, a disc-based (or, perhaps, flash-based) option would need to be standard as well, considering that no matter how great your idea may be, it is impossible to immediately convert the majority who have settled comfortably into their media consumption lifestyle. Once you’ve hooked in buyers with the assurance that they can still do things they used to, should they so choose, only then do you have the ability to introduce new and markedly improved alternatives to the former.

Games on Demand

A good start, but just that: a start.

The Xbox 360, as it stands, is a pretty solid media consumption device, thanks to the implementation of apps in the last few dashboard updates. While this makes the 360 appealing as an all-in-one device, it often fails to do any one thing exceptionally, due to how each app is designed and worked into the framework of the dashboard itself. Netflix, while good, feels detached from the main Xbox experience, which is a bit jarring. Better integration of each of these media apps into the core, basic functionality of the next Xbox will ensure that enjoying your favorite shows or movies will feel more organic, as the new system will hopefully be designed for such things from the ground up.

As mentioned earlier, Games on Demand was a good idea, but as we all know, its selection is pretty awful. With the new Xbox, I should be able to decide between going to the midnight launch of a title, and staying at home to begin the download process at 12:01 AM. Preordering titles through Microsoft’s Games Marketplace should become standard, as should larger hard drives to accommodate the increase in digital content. By building a digital alternative on console hardware, Microsoft could actively compete with the likes of Steam and other PC clients to entice more of the PC crowd to give console gaming a shot. Again, everyone wins.

2.) Complete and Improved Kinect Integration

While some might argue that the Kinect is a dead platform, the reality is that many developers just have no idea what to do with it. Given that the device was implemented into the Xbox 360 several years after its launch, Kinect could have been substantially better integrated into the entire framework of the interface. Apps utilizing Kinect features feel tacked on and forced, and the way that most triple-A titles implement its technology appear to be mere afterthoughts to the core experience.

Kinect Isn't Dead

Not dead quite yet.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the device hadn’t been so utterly and wildly successful, and Kinect has loads of unrealized potential. While the limitations of the hardware make it somewhat difficult to deliver innovative and truly extraordinary experiences, if Microsoft does a little forward-thinking with its next console, the Kinect could be almost essential to the ultimate Xbox experience, much like Xbox Live is almost a necessity to get the most out of your box.

Microsoft needs to take notes from the modding community that has already begun to do some pretty impressive stuff with the device on their own, and understand the possibilities of what Kinect can really hope to accomplish as a supplementary device. To ditch motion-based gaming at this point would likely be a misstep, and although many hardcore gamers feel otherwise, it’s only the developers that the industry has to blame. Kinect games, as with Wii titles, can be widely successful if developed correctly with the technology in mind every step of the way. If the next generation of Kinect games brings the level of immersion and entertainment that Dance Central does, then the sensor will enjoy a much more critical place in Xbox owners’ living rooms.

3.) Reliable, Sexy, and Future-Proofed Hardware

At this point, it’s likely that nearly every Xbox 360 gamer has experienced it: the Red Ring of Death. When Microsoft’s earlier models of the console weren’t RRODing, their disc trays were breaking, and when the disc trays weren’t breaking, the graphics cards were becoming unsoldered from the motherboard. The poor design of the launch box put an enormous dent in the Xbox’s reputation, and soiled Microsoft’s name for quite some time. In order to ensure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again, the software giant is going to need to go into great detail about the precautionary measures and design decisions that were made to guarantee that the next Xbox was built to last.

Xbox 720 Concept

Oh please, god, no.

For a good example, examine Apple products. Even though some of the products from the house that Jobs built tend to look like minor upgrades, Apple sells them as revolutionary new experiences with elegantly produced promotional content. Take one look at the new iPad’s promo video, and you’ll be hard-pressed to believe that its predecessor is anything more than old news. Microsoft needs to adopt a similar approach to create a message that the Xbox 360 is basically a big piece of garbage now, and that whatever new technology they’ve concocted in the meantime is lightyears ahead of the 360′s now-outdated guts. Instill some faith into the gaming public to keep early adopter rates high, or (like most companies tend to do) end up blaming the economy for poor sales when in reality, the public image is the problem.

Lastly, the next Xbox needs to feature a design that will not only be future-proofed for trends on the horizon, but also sleek and sexy enough to retain entertainment room appeal for years to come. The Xbox 360 did an okay job of this, but failed to keep possibilities open for future tech, such as Blu-Ray and hard drive expansion, which frustrated a lot of gamers. Whether the new Xbox uses solid state drives for memory and flash storage rather than optical for games (which, in my opinion, would be totally awesome) isn’t so much important as is the ability to do so easily without too much hassle. If Microsoft, of all people, sees that there are technological trends that are up and coming, there should be tech built into the new Xbox that can accommodate that if need be.

So, what do you think? Does the next Xbox have potential to wow you with these features? Or is something missing from the equation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Related posts that may interest you:

  1. $99 Xbox 360 and Kinect Bundle Rumored to Launch Next Week – With a Catch
  2. Xbox 360 Appears to be Winning over PS3 at Amazon
  3. CES 2012: 66 Million Xbox 360′s Sold
  4. Xbox Lite Next Year, Xbox 720 Sometime Afterward?
  5. Microsoft France: No Xbox 720 Announcement in 2012

About Adriaan Noordzij

Student, dude, gamer. I aim to help people understand that video games are an evolving medium that deserves to be scrutinized as much as any other art form, and that we need to expect more from today’s game developers to encourage innovation in an industry riddled with safe bets and sequels.
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  • http://www.blackxino.blogspot.com Xino

    no bluray?

    • Adriaan

      I’m not sure if that’s something Microsoft would be willing to dish out licensing fees for, especially given that Sony owns the format and would likely use it as a pretty serious bargaining chip. Microsoft can circumvent this issue quite easily by going completely digital with their HD content. People that are buying PS3s for its Blu-Ray functionality have already done so, and most people won’t feel the need to part ways with it even if the next Xbox did offer Blu-ray. It’s kind of a moot point at this stage.

      • Jdrm03

         Sony does not own Blu Ray. 

        Look up the Blu Ray Disc Association.

        • http://twitter.com/Gamin_Guys Neildee250

           Sony own Blu Ray m8 it was licensed by them!

      • Vizsual

        Sony doesn’t own Blu- Ray, they own a share of it. 

        • Adriaan

          Thanks for the clarification!

      • http://twitter.com/Gamin_Guys Neildee250

         I’m gonna bet that Sony ask M$ to team up and do a joint console / venture at some point. I know I know I’m sticking my neck out here but the more you think about it… nah it won’t ever happen will it. Though it should!

  • Jdrm03

    exclusive games other then halo, gears of war, fable and forza….

    • http://twitter.com/Gamin_Guys Neildee250

       Sorry I am Xbox’s no1 fan but this guy is so right, getting really concerned that Microsoft are taking their eye off the core ball here.

  • Pity The Fool

    It’s quite simple.  High end multi core CPU (s) and GPU. Very large storage device.  Digital download.  Lots of apps.  Sexy looking slim funky design.  Job done, sorted.

  • Vizsual

    The next xbox needs to hit the gate running with new ips, kinect games people actually want to play, and a price point that won’t have people considering selling body parts.

    • http://twitter.com/Gamin_Guys Neildee250

       Games will continue to get more expensive, trust ;) So will the hardware as you are introducing new technology and licensing fees are due.

      I have to be honest, after 5 mins of thining about it, it all makes sense too.

      You want better? PAY!

  • zer

    No1 in the article would be disastrous for the industry. You will effectively
    stop value on games from appreciating and truly being collectable. It would
    stop gamers giving or sharing games and reselling. It would also destroy
    competition with game sellers making the big corporations like Microsoft even
    have greater control on pricing than they do now and we all know how expensive
    their digital items are. Also it would give greater control to those companies
    in telling gamers when they can game and how by possibly having always on
    internet connections and the games that require servers that can be turned off
    at any time effectively making what you pay for obsolete. At least games now
    for the most part can be played in 10 years time from now if they wish because
    they are hard copies and can you honestly say that about going purely digital?
    Not to mention you have to use you own internet and download large files and
    store them on hard drives etc that can get faulty and lose your info. Going
    totally digital and taking away choice is the worst thing that could possibly
    happen to the industry and it’s only a win win for the companies and not the
    consumers. You need to think more for the longer term instead of the here and

    • Adriaan

      Nowhere in there did I say to ditch optical or other storage-based options for playing games. In fact, I made it clear that Microsoft SHOULDN’T exclude such a feature from the next Xbox. As far as games being collectable, that’s not really a concern of mine. Much like the music industry has gone digital and CDs are becoming less and less of a source of profit for artists, so too should games BEGIN walking that path. It doesn’t need to happen immediately; DVDs are still in production, and last time I checked, not everyone owned an HDTV. To get the ball rolling and offer that option to those who want it with the same level of attention as retail stores would be a truly great thing, however.

      Everyone wins when there are more (viable) options available. In addition, there are ways of keeping buying/selling or even trading an option within that framework, and in fact, I’d love to see Microsoft bring a service like that to the next Xbox. Imagine an entire online trading post for games, where you can exchange licenses for your purchased titles to get the newest (or oldest) hits. No shipping, no unnecessary packaging, just a few button presses away. It could redefine the entire digital distribution model, and with a little tweaking, could still help game companies turn a profit, unlike the current used games market that is hurting the industry. More money for developers = more quality titles. Simple as that.

      While I see your point about a possible monopolization of the industry, if Microsoft allowed retailers like Gamestop or Amazon to provide download codes at their own prices, those companies could still stay in business, while Microsoft gets a cut of the profits. At first it may seem like a bad idea, but if the faceless corporations want to really entice gamers and retain a positive public image, there are ways to make everybody happy. It just takes a little ingenuity and smart planning to make it work.

      • zer

        And what about the restrictions on digital games that we have already seen with drm and other things like origin, telling gamers when they can game and how eg internt on connection for single player games, as well as losing access to even enitire games because of account bans and servers being shut down. At least now we can still play in 10years time if we wish, you have not addressed those issues.

        • Adriaan

          DRM is another thing entirely. In case you didn’t know it, nearly every single (if not every single) Xbox game uses some form of DRM or validation. When you pirate a game or use a mod chip to circumvent Xbox Live’s authorization processes, red flags go nuts on Microsoft’s end and you get banned for Live. Is it the same as PCs, where DRM can effectively deny you from experiencing an offline component of the game? No, but that’s more of a problem on developers’ ends, not Microsoft’s. I hate DRM as much as the next guy, and don’t want the next Xbox to have it, if at all possible.

          As far as account bans go, that’s your own damn fault if you do that. You deserve to lose access to a game if you manipulate the system. Do you really want to play games online 10 years after they’ve been released, when almost no one is playing them any longer? I mean, I was said when Halo 2′s servers were shut down, but I’m losing sleep over it. I see your point, but I think a few negligible points about the nature of digital copies of games are nothing compared to the convenience and advantages of the digital model.

          • Noordzij Adriaan

            Gsh, typos! Sad* not losing sleep*

          • zer

            When I say 10 years time I dont just mean multiplayer games but single also. People play old games all the time and old games are constantly getting re-released as aniversay editions and so forth just look recently at all the ps3 hd remasters and the halo aniversay edition on xbox 360 or zelda orcaraina of time on the 3ds. People should not be forced to constanly be buying the same product over and over again. And as for the bans, its one thing to be banned in multiplayer if you cheat which is fair enough but another entirely to be banned from your entire collection of already payed for single player games. Thats a line companies should not be able to stop people from doing.

          • Adriaan

            If you read just about any EULA Microsoft (and many other companies) have issued, they retain the right to cut you off from the game entirely should you manipulate the system. I really have absolutely no sympathy for cheaters, and if someone feels the irresistible urge to ruin the game for others, they should be punished accordingly. That’s a serious deterrent to cheating, if you ask me. Make the punishment severe, and people won’t push Microsoft’s buttons. Valve retains the same right. In fact, just about every company retains that right. Most of the time, you don’t actually own a copy of the game, but simply a license to use it.

            No one is forcing you to buy HD remasters. There is no reason to shut down servers for singleplayer games unless there is a multiplayer component to them that will be locked out. 

  • http://twitter.com/Leathersoup Leathersoup

    Microsoft will never be able to come close to Steam as far as digital downloads are concerned simply because they want to charge full price for digital content years after the brick and mortar stores have already discounted the same game to $20.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mojtaba-Shabani/1099997384 Mojtaba Shabani

    for every thing there should be a choice:for kinect,digital/physical content,joystick,xbox move(to be),3d/2d,blueray/dvd drive,first/second hand games,remote/no remote,online/offline, friend or foe,one/multi,boss/big boss… .this thing called choice makes mankind differ.u know what i mean

    • http://twitter.com/Gamin_Guys Neildee250

       I believe Michael Patcher hit this one in the GameTrailers video, where he said Apple have a better format than Kinect via the Tablet. Things need re-working or the current gaming structure will turn on it’s head. We’ll see eh?

  • http://twitter.com/Gamin_Guys Neildee250

    Jesus I couldn’t get the first 6 lines without laughing

  • http://twitter.com/Gamin_Guys Neildee250

     As far as games being collectable, that’s not really a concern of mine?

    LOL You may find that those other guys disagree mate. It’s great to spend the time writing a post and everyone is entitled to their opinion but others take a very different view. I would try to be a little clearer about your views. It’s very easy to get lost in one message and deliver another.

  • nightwolf7070

    I’ll have to buy it to keep playing the games i love!!!! :(