There has been lot of talk over the past year about what the next generation of home consoles will be like in terms of processing power, features or the ever controversial second hand games ban. Each console developer has made mistakes over the lifespan of the current models, and hopefully they will have learned from their mistakes. Just maybe, the next gen will provide a more versatile outlet for the modern console gamer. Here is a list of what I hope Microsoft and Sony will introduce to bring us forward into a new era of gaming.
The first and most important thing to me is the ability to multitask, I’m not talking about background downloads whilst playing, I mean true multitasking. Realistically, with the affordability and availability of good, cheap, multicore processors, especially with what will be available in the next eighteen months; there’s no reason either Sony or Microsoft won’t be able to handle this. I read a great article on Kotaku recently, concerning the failure of the Xbox as a social media console; I think the introduction of multitasking would rectify these mistakes.
Imagine playing your console of choice and being able to instantly access your Facebook or Twitter feeds with a touch of a button, all without leaving your game. Also if it takes your fancy, you access Xbox music or a similar feature at once for some chilled soundtracky goodness and as Mr Good mentioned on Kotaku, sending screenshots online direct from your menu of your trials and triumphs. With the revenue that would be generated from the giant user-base and advert opportunities; I don’t think it’s one that any company could afford to miss.
Full media capabilities
My biggest problem with the Xbox in terms of media is the lack of a Blu-ray drive, favouring HDDVD over the vastly superior competitor back in the ol’ HD disc war. I think until gaming turns download only, Blu-ray is the way to go. One of my other major gripes with the state of consoles at the moment is that while being advertised as home media centres, there is a disturbing lack of media support. They force the user to conform from their own preferences into the limited range of service they actually provide. From my own experience, the trouble with consoles not recognising .mkv and .flac files was enough to install an Ubuntu network pc next to the television for high quality video and music. The next generation simply cannot be considered forward thinking without integrating full media capabilities, replacing PCs in this regard.
Kinect with own processor/Sony controller free version
The most important way to move forward with the Kinect’s gameplay is to reinvent the way the Kinect works. The current model utilises the processing power of the Xbox to work its magic, being more than enough for the intent of gameplay planned. The future of the Kinect, I believe will rely on a fully capable on-board processor. This will totally revamp the lacking games experience available for Kinect at the moment; gems like Child of Eden few and far between whilst simultaneously hidden beneath floods of Kinect Sports and as many versions of Zumba that they can make. I really hope Sony will pull out all the stops to make a rival to the Kinect, nothing like their pitiful Eye Toy 2.0 that they have right now. If that existed now, I’d have no doubt Microsoft would be in trouble with their gold service being vastly inferior to Playstation Plus.
Siri-like voice control
The Kinect hurdled us forward in the gaming and home console experience in leaps and bounds. The voice control feature is the single most revolutionary aspect in my console experience since integrated DVD players. My dreams for the future of the Kinect and hopefully a similar Sony experience are an addition of a Siri-like interface. The ability to have, not necessarily a responding console, but a fantastic voice command, search friendly interface; similar, but more advanced than the feature added with the latest Xbox update. Full voice control would be a peach also. This may be slightly shallow aswell, but I am really banking on being able to name my Xbox. I would name her Pam, she would be my digital personal assistant.
Lastly, and this is solely aimed at Microsoft, the complete removal of pay to play multiplayer. Currently the state of Xbox live is a shambles. If you don’t subscribe to Gold, then you get no multiplayer, no IE8 (a supposedly free browser), no Netflix (third party not financially affiliated, with its own subscription), no Xbox music (which requires gold and further subscription), no muzu.tv, not even Vevo. With increasing subscription prices, this is just far too much. Especially when you compare to the bargains Playstaion Plus gives you, as fellow Power Down Kid Fergal told us about. Bottom line is this will be a very strong factor in my choice of next generation consoles, and Microsoft really has to evaluate its service for then.
These are just a few things I’m hopeful about. A few small things I hope would also be; the Xbox controller not changing, a more interactive smart glass across all consoles allowing you to stream your game to a tablet when the Tv is in use (á la WiiU screened controller) and even full backward compatibility. Overall the next generation of home consoles doesn’t need to be an upgrade; it needs to be a revolution.