With the recent news that Microsoft and Sony could be preparing to reveal their new consoles at E3 2012 in June, we thought we would run through some of the features we want to see. We aren’t going to go the obvious route of saying better graphics, bigger hard drives and so on. We fully expect those things. Those things are Moore’s Law, they are bound to happen. Instead, we pick out some of the features that we think will enhance the overall experience of our gaming and entertainment lives.
1: Removable Solid State Drives (SSDs)
We should all now live in a Solid State. SSDs shot to prominence in 2011 as their price dropped to a more affordable level. Apple also released its first laptop – the MacBook Air – with just an SSD, in late 2010. I bought one of those machines, and the read write speed is too impressive to describe. Also, many gamers have been installing SSDs into their consoles and PCs due to the price drop, with some people lucky enough to have halved loading times on big, heavy loaders such as Gran Turismo 5. For us, flash memory is the only way forward in terms of storage on a console. It would be nice if it were removable, too.
2: No More DVDs
While some argue that Microsoft’s option to stick with the DVD route for its games was a good move due to faster read speeds, we do think it’s about time someone came up with a solution to getting a game come through on a thousand discs. It just feels, well, old. Microsoft adopting Blu-Ray seems highly unlikely due to Sony’s support and part ownership of the technology, though for fans of the crisp, clear picture and amazing sound that comes with Blu-Ray it would be a good thing.
3: Let’s Get Chatty!
One of the worst aspects of online gaming is the voice chat. Voice chat on today’s consoles would have Alexander Graham Bell turning in his grave. Surely we can do this chap some justice and increase the quality for the next round of consoles? Internet is much faster now than it was when PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 first came out and although voice clarity has improved in this time, it still falls short of what it should be at. Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011, for a whopping $8.5 Billion Dollars – if we don’t get Skype’s quality of calls on the next Xbox at least, it would be $8.5 Billion down the drain. Well, in a gamer’s mind at least.
4: Stay Closed, But Open Up
Apple again proved in 2011 that a closed ecosystem is perfectly acceptable. It has its downsides, yes, but for the most part, it allows the manufacturer control over the product with its logo on it. Many people call for Microsoft and Sony to open up the operating software on the consoles. Many things within the operating system of both consoles need to be improved, such as automatic software updates and game updates. PlayStation Plus members will have had a taste of automatic updates of games already and it is one of those little things which really improves the overall console experience. This should be opened up to all PlayStation members and Microsoft should go right ahead and implement its own automatic updating.
What we did see with PlayStation this year was the opportunity to play games cross-platform on Portal 2. Sony opened up a little bit, albeit if it was during the closure of PSN. The cross-platform play with Steamworks was fantastic. While it is almost impossible to imagine Microsoft doing the same, it would be fantastic to see more of this in the next generation.
As it stands, developers can have a nightmare getting games onto Xbox LIVE and PSN. Both should take a leaf out of Apple’s book by having a dedicated App Store whereby developers can easily download an SDK, develop and submit games. Yes, Apple’s approval process can leave a lot to be desired, but it is still the easier option. There are swarms of talent heading over to mobile applications and Microsoft and Sony need to streamline their processes to let indie developers get their (sometimes amazing) products onto our consoles.
The same goes for applications. Spotify, E-Mail, Twitter and more all have a place in the next generation of consoles. They are no longer just about the games, we already know that. We fully expect every single one of our entertainment needs to be catered for with the next generation of consoles. Improvements to Kinect and the Kinect for Windows SDK could see developers make some truly fantastic general applications for the next Xbox. Imagine a Spotify app which you control with gestures and voice, it would be amazing.
5: Proper Prices, Proper Currency
One of the things that stops me buying avatar items, cheap DLC and so on is the fact that you can’t just pay what it costs for something. With Sony, you have to put a minimum of £5.00 into your wallet and with Microsoft you have to buy 800 Microsoft Points. Both should be scrapped. This is not your local newsagents we are talking about, both are massive companies. Without wanting to keep going on about Apple, you literally pay for what you buy on the App Store, so why can’t we do that on our games consoles too? Having vouchers is still a necessity, as there are some young folk without bank accounts. For the most part, however, having your bank card linked up to your Xbox LIVE or PSN account and just paying for what you have would be a great thing.
Now, there are plenty of more features we would like to see from new consoles too, but we picked these as a five that would make everyone’s lives a little bit easier. Why don’t you tell us what you want to see from the next generation in the comments below.