We have high hopes from Microsoft’s next home console.
Talk of the next generation of consoles has already started to heat up, and though it hasn’t quite hit fever pitch yet, and probably won’t do so for at least a year or two more, it’s certainly getting there. When Phil Spencer “shadow-announced” that the team behind the Xbox One X is working on the next Xbox (which seems to be codenamed Xbox Scarlett), it certainly turned a lot of heads- ours included. Sure, we’re always thinking of what we want to see in newer gaming hardware, but in recent weeks and months, that’s become a much more relevant discussion to have. As such, here in this feature, we’re going to be taking a look at fifteen things we don’t want to see in the next Xbox.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Consoles ditching discs completely and going fully digital has started to look like much likelier possibility than it did at the end of last gen, when Sony took a stab at the concept with the PSP Go. A large number of people now purchase many of their games digitally, while playing games via cloud streaming is kind of a viable option now as well. As such, there have been many who have suggested that perhaps the next generation of consoles could ditch physical games completely- and honestly, we don’t really want that to happen. Not only does it completely go against the wishes of the average consumer, it also seems to ignore the fact that for a large number of people, the kind of steady and fast internet connections that are required for a completely digital console simply aren’t an option.
COMPULSORY CLOUD GAMING
Cloud gaming has a lot of the same problems that a totally discless console does. In fact this is more or less an extension of our previous point. Of course, simply as just one more option, there’s nothing really wrong with cloud gaming, but if it were to be made the only way of playing games on a next-gen Xbox, that would be a problem. Latency issues, lag, or, the added issues ofgoing completely digital, which we’ve already discussed… cloud gaming is something that will continue to grow in popularity in all likelihood, but I think next generation is a little too early to go down that road completely.
LACK OF EXCLUSIVES
Exclusives has long been the bane of Microsoft consoles- even when they were dominating the market in the first half of the Xbox 360’s cycle. A few big names like Halo, Gears of War, and Forza have become permanent fixtures for Xbox consoles, but do you know what we want, Microsoft? More. We want more. Thankfully, it looks like we’ll get that next-gen, with Microsoft having recently acquired five new first party studios, two of whom are pretty big names in Playground Games and Ninja Theory. On top of whatever it is Microsoft’s expanded first portfolio will be delivering, we’d love to see something like Fable revitalized.
LACK OF JAPANESE SUPPORT
For as long as anyone can remember, the Xbox has been notorious for not having proper support from Japanese game developers. Sure, franchises such as Resident Evil, Final Fantasy have all over time come over to the Microsoft console as well, so it wouldn’t be fair to say that it has no Japanese support, but there’s still so much more third party stuff that remains mostly off-Xbox, and some of it, like Persona and Dragon Quest is pretty major, too. But, thankfully, it looks like even on this front Microsoft are actively working to make improvements. Monster Hunter World’s simultaneous Xbox One launch was very encouraging to see indeed, while the fact that Nier Automata also eventually came over to the system also goes to show that things are looking up.
You know what’s completely unacceptable in today’s day and age. A controller that doesn’t recharge, but instead runs on batteries. Even during the previous generation it was an annoyance, but this generation it’s straight up out of place. Sure, there are variants of the Xbox One controller that you can purchase separately that have rechargeable batteries, but that’s the problem right there- those are separate purchases. The Xbox One itself comes with battery-powered controllers. Hell, even the Xbox One X, what is till now the most powerful video game console ever made, comes with a non-rechargeable controller. It just doesn’t make any sense.
GIMMICKS AT LAUNCH
If there’s one thing that hurt Microsoft in the home console market more than anything else, it was the way they handled the Xbox One launch. To their credit, and to Phil Spencer’s as well, they have been working their asses off to repair the damage that 2013 showing did, but man did it do a lot of damage. There was so much that was wrong with it, which we’ll be getting into, and one of those was its Kinect gimmick. The Kinect was a semi-successful periphery for the Xbox 360, but it didn’t take the world by storm, so Microsoft decided it would be a good idea to centre their entire next system around it is beyond me. Hopefully, they won’t be doing that sort of thing again.
NO ALWAYS-ONLINE DRM
This was another major sticking point for critics when the Xbox One was first revealed. The fact that the Xbox One had, essentially, always remain online for you to be able to use it properly was considered wildly anti-consumer (which it was), and Microsoft received no short amount of flak for the same. It didn’t take them long to do a complete roundabout on that decision, and that hasn’t really been a problem for the Xbox One for a long time, so we can take solace in the fact that the entire ordeal certainly taught Microsoft a lesson, and we won’t be seeing a repeat of it with the next Xbox.
Let’s stick with the Xbox One’s launch just a little while longer. The system didn’t start off as well as Microsoft would have been hoping, and it has been playing catch up with the PS4 more or less since its first launched. A lot of the issues that caused that, we’ve already spoken about, but the pricing was also a huge factor. The Xbox One launched for $499 (though it was also sold for $399 without the Kinect), and most deemed it too overpriced. Launch prices for consoles are always a concerning issue, regardless of who’s developing the system, but we’re hoping Microsoft will find a way to avoid this pitfall in the coming years.
A BAD UI
At launch, very little was going right for the Xbox One. On top of all the stuff we’ve already discussed, there were some relatively more minor issues plaguing the system as well. One of them was the user interface which, quite frankly, was just not good. Through many firmware and system updates, the Xbox One’s UI has been getting consistently better ever since, and we’re now at a point where it’s vastly improved over what it started out as. Let’s just hope Microsoft don’t take as long getting to an acceptable level with the Xbox Scarlett.
LONG DISC INSTALLATION TIMES
This one really bugs me, and it’s not necessarily a problem with just the Xbox One. Having to sit through unbelievably loading times is never fun, but it’s still somewhat understandable if it’s being done for a digital purchase. But when you’re playing a game on a disc and the console still takes so long to install the game onto your console, that just pisses me off.
WEIRD UPDATE INSTALLATIONS
Post launch updates and patches have become a norm in our industry in recent years, and for the most part, it’s easy to see their benefits. Bugs and glitches and major issues are no longer permanent issues (most of the times), and a huge number of games have benefited from this facility greatly. But when you have to wait for an update to download and install (which can often take a long, long time) for you to be able to actually play a game, that’s just no fun. The PS4 allows players to put that on hold and play the un-updated version of the game offline, but the Xbox One gives no such option. Let’s hope that changes next generation.
SLOW FIRMWARE UPDATES
Just like with game updates, firmware updates also have very obvious advantages- I don’t have anything against firmware updates, of course (who would?). What I do have an issue with is firmware updates that take ages to download and install. A lot of that is definitely dependant on what kind of an internet connection you have, but the Xbox One inherently is particularly weird about the entire thing. The entire process can take ages to finish- here’s hoping Microsoft are aware of the issue and are working on fixing it.
POOR DOWNLOAD MANAGEMENT
A console’s ability to make the entire process of downloading multiple things easier is very important in today’s day and age, when so much of the entire experience is dependent on, well, downloading stuff. And to be fair, the Xbox One doesn’t do a bad job in that area. I mean, it’s not breaking new ground or anything (but then again, neither is any other system on the market), but it could certainly be a lot worse. Hopefully, though, the next Xbox will be more than just “serviceable” in this area.
POOR SHARING OPTIONS
As good as the sharing options and features are on the PS4, they’re just as bad on the Xbox One. The entire thing is a process, and if you’ve ever needed to record or stream gameplay, you know that that’s exactly what it shouldn’t be. Then there’s the stupid restrictions on the amount of footage you can record in minutes (which, admittedly, has become more flexible in recent months and years), but it’s still plagued by a number of issues.
A CONSOLE THAT IS HARD TO DEVELOP FOR
We’ve seen so many examples of consoles failing to do as well as they should have because of hardware that is hard to develop for. We saw it with the N64, we saw it with the PS3- hopefully we won’t see it at all next gen, and that obviously includes the next Xbox. Microsoft will be all too familiar with ESRAM issues as well, though to their credit they removed that issue completely with the Xbox One X- they’re certainly going in the right direction. Let’s hope they continue in the same vein with their next console.