5 Things The Next Xbox Should Have (But Won’t)
Microsoft lifts the veil on the next Xbox tomorrow, meaning today is our last chance to dream about what we want in a next generation console. It’s exciting, but kind of sad too, because we know a ton of great ideas will surely be left stranded like an ax-wielding hitchhiker. Of course the day before a massive PR blitz by a corporate giant might be a little late to make a wish list, but no matter—we wanted to get this on record. Here are 5 things the next Xbox should have, but alas, probably won’t.
1. Free Xbox Live
Wanna guarantee all the current Xbox customers come back? Kill the pay-for-play jive on Xbox Live. Charging $60 a year to play online (even if subscription cards are usually found for much less) has always been a nasty blemish on the Xbox experience. Fortunately for Microsoft the XBL experience has a been better one than on the PlayStation Network (let’s not even discuss Nintendo here). But with Sony stepping up its game this time and already having had some success with the well-regarded PlayStation Plus program, Microsoft could go a long way towards erasing the ghosts of the Red Ring of Death by erasing the restrictions for Xbox Live and following Sony’s lead here. At the very least they need to remove the Gold status requirement needed to access your Netflix account. Lame.
2. Everything Built-In
Another expectation we have coming into this new round of consoles: no more nickel and diming us. You’ll recall when the 360 launched in November 2005, Wi-Fi was not built-in—and adapters cost $100. Consumers also had the choice of a 20GB hard drive or no HDD whatsoever; a short-term move that might’ve spurred early sales thanks to the lower price point ($299), but it also led to millions of gamers needing to buy pricey hard drives and developers having to compensate for different specs. This time around everything needs to be in the box. If we have to buy one single accessory on day one, that day will take a long while to come.
3. DVR/Blu-ray Burner
We realize this one is asking a lot, but if you’re truly building the ultimate entertainment machine, shouldn’t it cover all bases? The cable and motion picture industries would pitch a fit, but having your console be able to record TV shows and movies (and – gasp – games too!) and then burn them onto a Blu-ray disc would truly give us ownership over our media and a bonafide MVP in the living room.
4. Fewer Buttons
The Kinect did an OK job with bringing some different types of people into the Xbox fold, but there’s an even easier way to lure more casual gamers: cut back on the buttons. The current 360 controller has a whopping 11 buttons on it (that’s counting Start, Select, and the Guide button; it’s actually 13 if you count the L3 and R3 controller clicks). New rule: a controller can’t have more buttons than your best dress shirt. Especially if there’s going to be a touch screen in the center, Microsoft can easily cut the number of buttons back to single digits. A more streamlined controller will be less intimidating for novices to pick up, and look sexier too.
5. AO Games
That phrase probably looks weird to many of you, because while we’re all quite familiar with “Rated M for Mature,” we simply never hear “Rated AO for Adults Only.” Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas briefly had its M rating changed to AO in 2005 after the whole “Hot Coffee” hullabaloo, but the sexual content was quickly taken out. Would you buy a Blu-ray player that couldn’t play porn? Of course not. But that kind of censorship is what Microsoft and Sony (and retailers) are practicing by freezing out any titles with AO ratings. With millions of gamers now well into their 30s, 40s, and 50s, it’s high time for the industry to grow up. The gaming world should be free to explore sexual themes, stories, and images, not just carjackings, killings, and angry birds.