Amidst all the rumors and speculation regarding Microsoft's next generation gaming console, their success with the Xbox 360 is nothing short of a milestone achievement for the Redmond company, especially when compared to their initial entrance into the console gaming market with the original Xbox.
Being the first console to launch the seventh generation back in 2005, Microsoft were primed and focused on being the number one gaming and multimedia platform of the "Next Generation". By being heavily focused on developer feedback and support, as well as giving the core audience the gaming experiences they desired. Games such as Kameo: Elements of Power, Project Gotham Racing 3, Perfect Dark Zero, Condemned: Criminal Origins and Call of Duty 2 showed what the Xbox 360 was capable of on launch day. And many more great new IP's would come along such as: Crackdown, Alan Wake, Gears of War, Bullet Witch, Too Human, Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey would help define the exclsuives the console had early on in it's life cycle. Then, of course, you had their major returning franchises including: Halo(Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach, HaloCE Anniversary and Halo 4) Forza Motorsport(Forza 2, Forza 3, Forza 4 and Forza Horizon) and Fable(Fable 2, Fable 3 and Fable: The Journey).
However, Microsoft faced major challenges right off the bat with the infamous "Red Ring of Death" hardware failure (which I went through twice). The failure rate of the initial batch of Xbox 360's rose to an astonishing 54.2% and caused Microsoft to spend nearly 1 Billion dollars to provide a 3-year extended warranty for Xbox 360 owners. Many suspect that because Microsoft wanted to be the first out-of-the-gate with their next-gen console, they seemingly rushed the product to the market to make their 2005 release date, and obviously cut a few corners in the manufacturing process. Of course there were numerous other problems with the Xbox 360. From disc drive errors and the scratching of game discs, to the E74 error and other video failures. I would think by this day, all Xbox 360's sold from 2005 till mid-2007 have either been destroyed due to RROD or have been modified/sold as a hackers Xbox 360.
Now we are in the year 2013. Nintendo has already released their latest "next-gen" console, the Wii U and Sony announced in February that the Playstation 4 will be released this Holiday 2013. Now it's all up to Microsoft to reveal their Next-Generation platform and show off it's capabilities and the experiences it can create.
Here is a list of three things I'd like to see happen to the Next-Gen Xbox:
1. Change Xbox Live Model/Make Xbox Live Free.
Gamers everywhere have to pay to acquire an internet connection to be allowed to access anything on Xbox Live. So why should they have to pay to be able to play online as well? For years, PC gamers have never had to worry about having a Gold/Silver account because they game online for Free. And when the PlayStation Network launched with the PS3, they didn't even have any subscription based programs and PS+ never existed, because the ability to play online was FREE! So either Microsoft need to get with the times and just flat out cancel their Xbox Live Fees/Subscription services, or create something like Sony did with PS+ and offer the customer free games, discounts, in-game items, early access to games, beta tests, etc. as long as they continue to be a member (And also upgrade/increase Xbox Live servers would be appreciated too)
2. Bring Back The Core Gaming Experience/New IP's
As of late, around the time Don Mattrick took over as head of the Xbox Division, Microsoft's focus has shifted more towards casual/family oriented gaming, rather than the hardcore/unique games that made Xbox who they are today. Thanks to Kinect, Microsoft has forced developers to implement the camera peripheral in anyway they can to demonstrate Kinect's uses. While I personally am not a fan of Kinect, nor do I like the idea of how the Next Xbox may require Kinect 2.0 to be mandatory, Kinect has done well for Microsoft and if it captures the audience they are after then that's fine. All I'm saying is don't forget about the core audience who got you to where you are today, Microsoft! I wouldn't mind seeing a few "new" exclusive games rather than just a new Halo, Gears, Forza and Fable every other year. and I'm proud that you opened up a new studio in my hometown Vancouver (Black Tusk Studios) and I can't wait to see what they will create with the new hardware. But also opening yourselves up to new ideas (ie. re-establishing relationships with the Indie Dev Community) and putting primary focus back into core games rather than Xbox Music/Movies/TV, IPTV and Apps, might help regain gamers trust (So far it's worked well for Sony-PS4). You can focus on both hardcore and casual, just don't shift and focus one more heavily than the other.
3. Take Your Time/Manufacture Properly
This one correlates to what I talked about earlier in that, I would rather see Microsoft take their time and design a product that will not overheat, or scratch disks or have GPU/video errors. If it means launching after the Playstation 4, then that's fine. I'm sure gamers would rather invest in a product that has been tested numerous times and uses quality components inside, then have another "rushed-to-market" product only to go through the same issues as they went through last time. Not only that, but the amount of time and money put into making a great console the first time around, will decrease the likelihood of having another Billion dollar disaster on their hands.
Thank you for reading my first N4G blog post, hope you enjoyed my extensive ranting...lol