Now that Nintendo has successfully launched the Wii U in both the United States and Europe, several media outlets and analysts from around the world will begin shifting their focus towards Microsoft and Sony’s next gen consoles. While both companies have endured their fair share of trials and tribulations this generation, history has often taught us that those who fail to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. As a strong supporter of the Xbox 360, I felt the need to address 5 shortcomings with the platform and suggest ways that Microsoft could improve moving forward.
5) Improved Xbox Live Subscription Model
Ever since the original Xbox launched back in 2002, Xbox Live has remained the definitive way to experience multiplayer gaming on the system. With each passing year, new interface designs are implemented along with additional features to enhance positive user experience and interactivity. As the service continued to grow, Microsoft focused on forming partnerships with popular brands like ESPN, and Netflix. The problem with this strategy is it persuades customers to pay an added cost to explore more entertainment options.
The next Xbox could improve this business model by providing even more value to paying customers through a stronger subsidized plan. Since several services like HBO GO and Hulu Plus require a monthly fee, it would be ideal if Microsoft could work out a deal to pay these companies a premium upfront and eliminate the extra charges altogether. The latter may result in a far higher yearly price for Xbox Live, but in the end consumers would essentially be getting a lot more bang for their buck.
4) More Original IPs
Known simply as Xbox’s Killer App, the Halo series is without a doubt the most successful franchise on the console to date. While this may be an impressive feat, the meaning changes entirely when you consider that this truly is the only real exclusive Microsoft has left. While anyone can argue that both Gears of War and Alan Wake are still owned by Microsoft, there is absolutely nothing stopping Sony from making a bid. After seeing both Mass Effect and BioShock franchises appear on the PlayStation 3, I’m more convinced then ever that every publisher has a price.
Microsoft could improve their current lineup of titles next gen by making a stronger effort to acquire more game developers and popular franchises. For starters, they could outright buy the rights to both the Gears of War and Alan Wake properties for good. Of course, this would mean making an offer that is financially beneficial to both Epic and Remedy games. Acquiring these properties, along with boosting their current offering of Xbox Live Arcade titles could be just what the company needs to strengthen their lineup of exclusives moving forward.
3) Improved Kinect Functionality
Since being introduced back on November 4th, 2010, Kinect has been a certified hit with both the casual market and kid audiences from around the globe. The technology has also been praised within some high profile medical practices. On the flip side, hardcore gamers haven’t exactly expressed their happiness with this feature. Adding voice commands to a few sports titles may sound appealing, but the system is highly flawed and inaccurate 9 times out of 10.
For next gen, Microsoft should be focused on elevating Kinect to the next level and giving the consumer further value with the add-on. For starters, Kinect should be a fully functional feature on the Xbox 720 right out of the box. It would be ideal if the technology has a personalization option where the device only functions by using your own individual voice recognition to execute actions. So far, I have encountered several instances where someone would ask me a question during a gaming session only to have the device interpret that as a command to do something. This in turn makes it highly frustrating to play a game like Mass Effect 3 or NBA 2k13 with Kinect enabled. My hope is that Microsoft will fix errors like these the second time around.
2) Upgraded Hard Drive Space At Launch
When the Xbox 360 first launched back in 2005, the premium model had a 20gb hard drive and retailed for $399.99. Fast forward to today and this practice remains intact for all three companies, most recently with the Nintendo Wii base model carrying only a 8gb of flash memory and an expensive $299.99 price tag. As a consumer and video game loyalist, I find nothing more irritating then having to constantly buy more memory to fit all my games on. My belief is that once you invest your hard earned cash into buying a system, then the only thing you should be buying after that are the actual video games themselves.
The next Xbox should launch with a reasonable amount of space to account for all the application updates and at the very most a few game installs. Perhaps they could take the approach of launching both a 120gb base model alongside a 250gb elite one. However, Microsoft probably won’t do this because they love to overcharge consumers for low capacity hard drives. At the very least, they should consider ways to help customers maximize their current hard drive space without going over budget to do so.
1) Backwards-Compatible Games
Throughout the 7 long years of its current cycle, the Xbox 360 has built up an impressive library of games from various genres. Once the next console launches, all of those same titles will be rendered nothing more then useless, out of date experiences. There will of course be a significant number of fans that will continue to play on their Xbox 360 systems only because they can’t afford to upgrade to the next console.
In an ideal world, Microsoft would reinvent this theory by actually making all of their 360 games compatible with the new system. This would be especially important because the launch lineup won’t exactly blow everyone out the water, and even if it does it won’t last for long. If you’re looking for a prime example of this theory, then look no further then the PlayStation Vita and the ridiculously long window between game releases on the platform. Fans who invest in a new console should always be entertained so that their purchase feels justified. If this approach is taken moving forward, then I’m confident it will persuade consumers to pick up the new console a lot sooner then later.
This concludes my list on 5 ways that Microsoft could improve next gen. Do you agree or disagree with my points? What ways would you say Microsoft could improve next gen? Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below.