originals\ Jul 2, 2012 at 11:31 am

What should we expect from the next generation of consoles – Xbox 720

This is part two of a three part series and covers Microsoft. Part one can be found here and covers Sony

When you hear “next generation” as a gamer, you start to picture photo-realistic graphics and movie quality games. In reality, you usually get enhanced console features such as online gaming and improved graphical capabilities like enhanced lighting effects. So while we’re closing in on the end of the Xbox 360’s lifecycle, we can start to picture what the Xbox 720 will look like.

Halo 4

Games, games, and more games – The Xbox 360 currently relies on Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty to move systems for the hardcore gamer. While this is fine, the Xbox 720 needs more variety and more exclusive games to stay competitive. In the current generation, Microsoft is spending more time buying timed DLC (like Call of Duty DLC and Skyrim DLC) than making exclusive games. This needs to change in order for the 720 to become the center of your entertainment center.

Better with Kinect – To be able to make the statement “better with Kinect” you should be able to back it up. Unfortunately, Kinect is only good for dancing games at the moment. If Microsoft wants the Kinect to be successful in the future, they need to vastly improve its hardware. The fact that Kinect can only recognize your body as a stick figure is pretty embarrassing. It needs to be able to recognize fingers for playing a shooting game, and be much quicker when you give it voice commands. As of now, everything the Kinect does can be done better with a controller. Whether you’re calling out chants in Skyrim or trying to race your car in Forza, using the 360’s controller is a much easier process.

TV and DVR capabilities – The Xbox 360 recently gained Xfinity TV, which is the first look at TV through a video game console. The Xbox 720 will need to further this if you’re trying to cancel your cable bill. Imagine having all the TV channels you want available through your Xbox, then being able to pause or record whatever you’re watching, play a game, and then go back to finish the show. This would be a very cool feature that can be achievable through the next Xbox.

Lower the price of Xbox Live / make it free – You might have seen my article on this topic before, and it’s especially important if the PS4 has free online play. Most people simply don’t have a lot of money to spend, and giving the Xbox 720 free online capabilities will definitely improve system sales.

Blu Ray

Change the disc format – The current DVD discs for the 360 simply don’t get the job done anymore. The amount of content in games grows larger each day, and developers are not able to fit all the content on one disc. Some recent examples include Rage (3 discs) and Max Payne 3 (2 discs), which are both on one Blu-Ray disc on the PS3. Microsoft either needs to bite the bullet and include a Blu-Ray drive in the Xbox 720, which would help Sony, or create their own disc format. Including a Blu-Ray drive would make more sense given that people already own Blu-Ray discs, but don’t disregard Microsoft’s ability to make their own product.

Increase the graphical potential – The Xbox 720 will obviously have better graphics than the Xbox 360, how much better is the real question. Lighting will be the biggest improvement from the current gen to the next gen, along with more detailed textures and hopefully 60FPS for every game. As each generation of consoles passes, the jump in graphics will rely more on details than graphical capability, as you will see on the Xbox 720.

360 controller

Stick to what you know - This section is about what needs to stay similar to the current generation. The Xbox 360 controller is definitely a fan favorite and should remain relatively unchanged. The d-pad on the original 360 controller wasn’t very good, but that was changed when the transforming d-pad came out. The Xbox 720 controller should look and feel the same as the 360’s controller.

Keep Xbox Live the most popular online service. This one seems simple enough, but it’s imperative that most gamers choose Xbox Live for their online fix. They need to offer more content, whether it be free or paid, to keep people coming back to the service and in different ways. See the TV and DVR capabilities above.

The big picture – Microsoft needs to maintain its hardcore following for the Xbox 720 to be the best system to own. By focusing less on Kinect stuff (or just outright improving it) and more on developing exclusive games, they will have a great chance to succeed. The less money they spend on timed DLC, the more money they have for important things like making Xbox Live cheaper and changing the disc format in their system. This will be a very interesting console war when the Xbox 720 goes up against the PS4 and the Wii U.

What are your expectations for Microsoft going forward? What other features would you want on the Xbox 720? Let us know in the comments below. The Sony article can be found here and the Nintendo article is coming soon.

Follow me on twitter at @AlexEqualsWin and Gamezone at @Gamezoneonline

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