Thursday, April 25, 2013

The "Nextbox": What Would Make Us More Open to Microsoft's Next Generation Console

It was officially announced yesterday that Microsoft will be unveiling their latest home console on May 21, less than a month from now, at their own special event. We at SuperPhillip Central love console reveals and cannot get enough of them, so we're excited for this new chapter in the world of Xbox. However, there are some things that we really want to see for the console that might make us more willing to invest in the system. For one, we would hope that Microsoft learned from the Red Ring of Death problem that shoddily built consoles suck. Regardless, we have eight other things that would make us more open to the next generation of Xbox. Here they are.

- No always online.

This is a big one, so let's start off with it. An always online console would be a deal-breaker for many gamers, even those who have stuck with Microsoft through thick and thin. We understand the always online DRM is used to prevent copyright infringement on software, and that's all fine and well, but when it has proven time and time again to not work so well in its current form (see: Diablo III and SimCity), then that's when we get a little worried. Not everyone has access to the internet 24/7, and no, they and we will not just "deal with it" either. Still, if the rumors of the next Xbox forcing owners to always be online to use most features, at least we can have an open mind about it. The next point we have, though, we have totally closed minds to.

- Used games are not blocked.

One of the big things that we at SuperPhillip Central do is rent and trade video games. When we are finished with a title and we don't plan on keeping it in our collection, we unload it. However, if the next Xbox truly does ban used games, then this is impossible for us to do. It means we would be much more careful about purchasing a game and less open to impulse buys. Why get a game without fully knowing how good it is? If we can't sell it or trade it in after the fact, then why risk getting a disappointing game just to sit on our shelf and bring down our entire collection? This is why we don't want the rumor about the next Xbox blocking used games to be true. We hope other gamers and consumers will also want the same thing.

- Better first-party output

You'd be hard pressed to find many people who would say that Microsoft puts out the best first-party games. We believe that Nintendo and Sony blow out Microsoft's offerings in the form of excellent quality. While the house of Xbox does have some stellar exclusives such as Halo and Forza, they really depend more on third-parties to sell their systems than the other two console manufacturers. We would like Microsoft to be more like Sony in this regard: have a system that not only has really good third-party support, but also  wonderful first-party output to make the next Xbox seem more enticing to people like us. We can only tolerate so much Halo and Gears before we grow bored and yearn for something new.

- Give us more than "just" gun games.

There is no question that a huge amount of the Xbox user base is in love with shooters, most particularly of the first-person variety. We've seen series like Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty, Borderlands, Medal of Honor, etc. do well on the system. Regardless, we'd love to see the Xbox brand expand from games with guns to something more. Kinect gave us more casual-related software, but how about more platformers, action-adventure titles, and games of that kind? Make a presence beyond gun games. We're not saying that Microsoft only makes shooters, hence why we put just in quotations. We're saying that a big focus of Microsoft is to this genre, so we'd love for them to focus on other genres to give the next Xbox a more well-rounded library of first and third-party software.

- Give Rare its balls back

One of the reasons we were so excited for the Xbox 360 was to see what games Rare, a former developer owned by Nintendo, would make via glorious glorious HD visuals. We got a tremendous taste of that with games like Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power, Viva Pinata and its sequel, and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Since then, they've been relegated by Microsoft to do casual projects and avatar work. How the mighty have most certainly fallen. It's no secret that Rare is not the same developer with the exact same staff as from their Nintendo days, but if the developer can return to form and create games that are as innovative and charming as their early Xbox 360 days, it will be hard for us to turn a blind eye to Microsoft's next console.

- Smaller focus on Kinect.

Kinect gave the Xbox 360 a new lease on life in the console market, that much is certain. However, it also made a lot of core gamers unhappy as Microsoft focused more on casual gamers than core gamers. Now, don't get us wrong-- it's awesome that Microsoft went for a new audience to expand the marketplace beyond just typical gamers. We love being able to call out plays and tell our Xbox 360 to do things with the sound of our own voices. However, Kinect showed that it's not very good for a lot of genres beyond party games and mini-game compilations in its current form. If somehow Kinect is a part of the next Xbox, we hope that it is much improved from its original state so it can be used in other types of genres and isn't the main focus of the console.

- Better focus on indies

Microsoft has been particularly a pain in the ass when it comes to dealing with indies. For one, Microsoft charges a fair amount of money just for a developer to put up a patch. That reeks of greed, and it is unfortunately pushing a lot of indies away from Microsoft. We want Microsoft to take notice to how Nintendo and Sony are treating indies. They're welcoming them and their games with open arms by lessening licensing fees, sometimes even giving out free dev kits, and so much more. Microsoft has a lot to learn from those two publishers, so we hope Microsoft changes its tune and isn't so arrogant.

- Changes to Xbox Live

First and foremost, if we are already paying for the privilege of playing online with our friends, doing party chat, and so much more, why are there still ads covering up the dashboard? We find it bizarre how this works. Shouldn't the online service that is free (PSN) be the one with all of the ads, and the one that costs $60 a month be the one that doesn't have ads? Unfortunately this is not the case. It screams arrogance and contempt for Microsoft's own customers.

Secondly, and this is a total pipe dream, but we'd love to see Microsoft lower the price of admission to Xbox Live Gold. Heck, perhaps they could even make it free like Sony's current PSN. Again, there's probably no chance in Hell of this happening, but we can always be optimistic that Microsoft might make us happy in this regard.


Those are what we want from Microsoft's next system. What about you? Do you disagree or agree with our points? That's just fine either way. Let us know your thoughts by posting in the comments section below!

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