With the announcement this week that Microsoft will be presenting their new console to the press on May 21st, Vicariousgamers.com looks at some of the possible announcements that Don Mattrick and the rest of the Xbox development team could be about to make.
Xbox Is Not An Always On-line Console:
This seems like a no brainer, but you wouldn’t put anything past a company who’s creative director puts out tweets like these. To handicap a new console with something as unpopular always on-line DRM would be like putting out a console that constantly breaks down due to a major design flaw.
Oh wait, they DID that already.
Even so, it would be a massive misstep on the part of Microsoft to require their new console to always be connected to the internet in order to play a game, especially when the competition requires no such connection. When you consider the fact that it is not unknown for Xbox Live to be taken offline occasionally , and that many peoples internet connection is less than reliable, this seems all the more strange Xbox is already staring a mass migration of users square in the face.
Doing something like this would be like sticking two fingers up at those of us who consider sticking with the American console.
Gold Membership Will Be Re-Tooled – On-line Play Will Be Free:
Xbox Live is the best on-line service of all the consoles out there, but unlike Sony’s Playstation Network, or the Nintendo Wii U, you have to pay a yearly subscription just to play multiplayer. Xbox also offers certain extra features in games such as Forza, but again you must be a member of Xbox Gold to see any benefit.
Playstation has come up with a winning formula that combines a great value service with a yearly subscription in Playstation Plus. Next month, for example, subscribers can download a free copy of Hitman: Absolution and the Atlus Puzzle/Horror game Catherine. For £40/$50 a year you can expect to receive at least 2 full retail games a month as well as plenty of Downloadable titles like Limbo and Braid. Within a couple of months you get more than your moneys worth back at little extra cost to Sony themselves (after all, downloadable games are just a collection of code on a server) All of that for a small yearly fee, and On-line play? Completely free for everybody that owns a Playstation. Say what you want about the quality of Sony’s On-line compared to Microsoft’s, but when it’s free there’s much less room for complaint.
The New Xbox Will Be Competitively Priced:
It’s vital to the success of the next Xbox that it is priced competitively, not just so that it appeals in comparison to the PS4, but also in comparison to the Wii U. Nintendo’s console might not be on the same footing as the Xbox and PS4 in terms of power, but Nintendo know that they don’t need to as long as they have their core audience behind them.
In order for Xbox to sell well and keep up with Sony’s machine it must be priced at a level that makes people really think about which machine they want to buy. Historically Playstation has launched at a high price point, meaning that this could be a key early victory for Microsoft if they get their pricing right.
The New Xbox Will Be A Much More Open Platform:
The benefits of a more open gaming platform will be instantly obvious to anyone that has played PES on Playstation. Being able to store .PNG files on your console and, better still, import them for use in the game itself means that games like Pro Evolution Soccer can be modified and personalised endlessly.
It’s not just the gaming aspect that this approach benefits either. Have you ever wanted to import a CD or better yet an album you’ve just bought on iTunes or Amazon.MP3 into your consoles music library? If you’re a Playstation user you’ll know it’s a simple enough operation, Xbox owners though? Not so much.
Sometimes i just want to be able to import music without finding the CD it originally came on. If i want it on my Xbox though? I have to start looking for the CD or better yet, burn a new one just so i can rip it onto the Consoles HDD. I’d rather just move it over Wifi from one hard drive to another.
Microsoft, you need to give us some more freedom when using our consoles, otherwise we’ll start using consoles like OUYA and Playstation, consoles from companies that seem to understand that we want things to happen easily and seamlessly, with little to no fuss.
New Xbox Will Be Backwards Compatible:
This is an area where Xbox can take the advantage over Playstation.
Sony have already confirmed that PS3 games and downloads will not be backwards compatible on PS4, instead the idea is that Gaikai will allow Playstation owners to stream legacy content from the cloud. Whether this will be for an extra monthly fee, or as part of the Playstation Plus subscription is yet to be confirmed, but it’s unlikely to be a free service.
Conversely, Xbox could simply allow its users to play old previous generation games on their new console. It would allow cross generational Xbox users to keep their back catalogue in tact without having to store two consoles under the television. A move towards backwards compatibility will also mean that Xbox owners will have a wealth of games to play while they wait for next gen games to release, as well as meaning that you haven’t lost all the money you invested on that XBL Arcade collection you have sitting on your hard drive.