Prepare for down count...
The future is coming. The Wii-U marks the start of the next console generation, and it's assumed that the Nextbox and PlayStation 4 are not too far behind. I'm curious what the next generation will bring, and specifically what it will have learned from the previous generation. They say that if you ignore the past then you are doomed to repeat it in the future, so I figured I'd put together a list of things I'd like to see changed with our upcoming electronic video game love rocket machines. Why, you ask? Because the things I'm listing below are things that bugged me this generation (and likely did with some of you readers as well), and will continue to do so if they persist into the future.
More OS & less NASCAR
Otherwise known as ďmy console is not your billboardĒ. This is mostly a criticism of the Xbox 360 as itís the biggest offender this generation, and I could see it continuing on into the next generation. When I turn on my system I donít want to be blitzed with advertisements of the newest acclaimed movie to hit Netflix or know that the newest DLC for Modern Military Hooray America Shooter 2012
is available. Iím severely irked by the fact that the first screen you see when you boot up your Xbox 360 has more space dedicated to commercials than it does for actual videogames, and the actual ďplay your gameĒ icon is a respectively small icon that is tucked away in the upper left portion of the screen.†
Game consoles have become low-end dedicated gaming PCís for the most part. However, when I boot up my computer Iím not bombarded with things going ďbuy meĒ, I have all of the basic things available on my desktop and a few shortcuts to some of my favorite games. If I want to view whatís on sale or what bargains are currently going on, I go find them myself. This is how the next gen systems should operate (some of them already do, honestly). I doubt Iím the only person who will actually get turned off to a product if itís thrown in my face and Iím told I should buy it.
Donít prioritize backwards compatibility
Backwards compatibility is an over-rated feature with home consoles, this isnít the first time Iíve talked about that
. I would much rather see emphasis get placed on new games rather than old games when it comes to next generation system.†Backwards compatibility is going to be even trickier with the current generation anyways. With this generation things like backwards compatibility, patches, and online multiplayer were much more prominent than in generations past. A console that would be backwards compatible with the PS3/360 generation would need to factor all of this into account as well, which could become problematic with a new consoles infrastructure.†
Given all of those things that need to be factored in, if you wanted to get all of your current gen games to work on your next gen console youíd have to get all of the patches and DLC you own all over again. This leads me to ask the question of why you would want to clog up the hard drive on your brand new next-gen system with stuff from your old system, when you could instead be filling it up with goodies for your shiny brand new prettier games? (Especially if the system you bought those old games for still works fine). If you can get backwards compatibility to work then by all means go for it, but please donít give it priority over other more necessary features. The main reason I would even put this as any sort of concern is because I would be afraid that time devoted to making backwards compatibility work would take away from something else potentially more awesome.
Yes, cutting out backwards compatibility will bring out all of the people claiming that itís some industry wide scam to make you buy your old games again. Just tell them to shut up and plug in the system they bought those games for instead.
Remember what you are
One thing that particularly bugs me about this generation of consoles is that it almost seems like theyíre ashamed to admit they are video game systems. Obviously my previous statement is hyperbole, but it seems like any time the talking suits at Sony or Microsoft stand up and start talking about their systems it seems like the talk about everything except the fact that it plays video games. Look at Microsoftís most recent E3 as an example of what Iím talking about; they spent what felt like a majority of their event talking about everything except the core function of the system. Sure stuff like ESPN and Internet Explorer are neat and dandy, but címon manÖ video games
. The PS3 was a violator of this earlier in its life cycle as well, remember all of those commercials about how the PS3 could do this or do that or how it was a cheap Blu-ray player and all of those things that didnít show sweet video games?
Basically, Iím falling back to a point I made in the backwards compatibility section. Please, donít over prioritize things and just focus on getting as many good games out there for your system as you can. I know this is a ďyeah, duhĒ statement but I canít stress enough how important filling your library with respectable titles is, and you donít need to look very far to find an example of why (See: PS Vita).
Earth people use Earth money
This is something that seems to already be on its way out for the most part, thankfully. You wanna know one reason I prefer the PSN Store and Steam above all else? Because I donít have to transfer my cash into preset amounts of Miyamoto Moon Dollars or Silly Bill Fun Bucks before I can buy my game. Iím American and in America our currency of choice is the dollar, and every other country has its own currency of choice as well. In fact no country on Earth uses Nintendo or Microsoft Points, so pardon me if I have an issue with giving up my cash for fake currency that belongs to a non-existent nation that I also canít translate back into real-people money if I have anything left over.
I personally hope that going forward stupid Points schemes simply go away. If I want to buy something let me just buy it for its exact dollar value, donít con me into buying a fixed amount of fake money that I canít even redeem for real money if I have excess points I donít plan on using.
Freedom with friends
I have an Xbox Live account, a PSN account, and a Steam account. I have three friends lists to manage and each has a respectable chunk of people on them. A people I know are on multiple friends lists of mine and donít use the same online handle on every platform (for some silly reason), so it can become moderately confusing when it comes to remembering whoís who. This is unquestionably the simplest next-gen request I can possibly think of, let us have some kind of flexibility with our friends list and how itís displayed.
I think the most preferable idea would be to allow you to assign aliases to people on your friends list. That way when my buddy logs on I donít get a popup saying ďxX420PimpyBluntzXx is OnlineĒ, it just says ďRick is OnlineĒ. Itís a simple idea thatís not Earth shattering in any sense, and it just makes things easier for everybody.†
Freedom for all
Again Iím going to pick on Microsoftís business model. Last generation, Microsoft decided that online gaming was going to be a thing you had to pay for instead of being a given privilege even if there had been a long established line of free online multiplayer. Part of the reason, in my opinion, they got away with this is because when Xbox Live was introduced on the original Xbox there was no real competition in the online home console market. Yes PS2 had online capabilities, however it wasnít a standardized thing and wasnít exactly up to par. Fast-forward to the present; Xbox Live is still around (and even hiked up its price), PlayStation has had an entire generation of experience under PlayStation Networkís belt now, and Nintendo even half-assed its way into the online world.
When evaluating the next gen systems, itís going to be very hard for Microsoft to justify hiding online multiplayer behind a hidden cost for much longer. I may be a tad naÔve, but eventually consumers are going to wise up and realize that the competitors are offering the exact same services for free. Sonyís PSN is most likely only going to get better and Nintendo looks like itís going to be taking online components seriously this time with the Wii-U. If you take a quick peek over to the PC gaming world, Steam offers the exact same set of features as Xbox Live does (and more) and itís all absolutely free. The more people see the competition offering the same things for free the more itís going to make Microsoft look bad and make people question why exactly Microsoft needs additional cash from them, especially if Microsoft is already pulling in revenue from all of their annoying dashboard ads.†
Iíd like to see Xbox Live transform into something similar to what PlayStation Network is. The online multiplayer and basic features, such as Netflix, are available to everybody but if you choose to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold youíll get extra perks such as discounts on titles and a hand written letter from Bill Gates telling you heíll try to think of you the next time he thinks about how heíll never have to worry about money ever again.
The future of consoles is a wondrously neat thing to speculate about. While I'll obviously be cynical about certain things I still gleefully await to see what the future holds. Hopefully the people in charge of actually pushing consoles into the next generation don't try too hard to continue doing some of the things that screwed up this generation.