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10 features we want to see in the next Xbox

Jared Newman, Jason Cross | April 12, 2013
The next Xbox's announcement is coming in late May. We drop a few ideas in the suggestion box.

Small developers must compete with major publishers for release timing and promotion, and there's a feeling among some smaller developers that Microsoft isn't being receptive to their needs. The separate channel for indie games on the Xbox 360 gets no promotion and lives in obscurity. Great games like Cursed Loot deserve to live side-by-side with all the other games you can buy on your Xbox.

Microsoft needs a single store with lower barriers to entry, and should regularly champion the best examples of small-scale, innovative games instead of relegating them to seasonal promotions. (Related: devise a way for developers to patch and update their games without charging $40,000 every time. If games are to be thought of as continual services, updating has to be almost cost-free.)

9. A way to play from anywhere

Sony plans to stream PlayStation 4 games to its Vita handheld. The Wii U allows some games to display entirely on its GamePad. Nvidia's Project Shield will let PC gamers play from anywhere in the house. The Razer Edge gaming tablet can hook into a television dock. The Xbox should have its own remote play option, so we don't have to be chained to our televisions. Maybe the rumored Xbox Surface tablet will be the key.

10. No more Xbox Live double-dipping

Why should users need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to watch Netflix or Hulu Plus when they're already paying a subscription fee for those services? Xbox Live is worth paying for if you're into online multiplayer, but otherwise, it's a terrible value when so many other set-top boxes offer the same app with no extra monthly cost.

With competing consoles offering online multiplayer for free, it's questionable whether Microsoft can continue to charge for such a basic feature in a new console generation. There are plenty of opportunities to offer premium features as part of an Xbox Live Gold subscription while moving basic online multiplayer play to the Free tier.

Of course, we don't expect the next Xbox to be nothing more than more powerful hardware and resolutions to our list of gripes with the current Xbox. Microsoft is expected to pair it with a more sophisticated successor to Kinect, and we'd be surprised if that was the only trick in store. Sony's Share button and live video streaming in PlayStation 4 is a good example of the kind of from-left-field surprises the next Xbox will have to incorporate to take the world by storm.

Microsoft simply cannot rest on past success, nor count on its current customers to remain loyal. That's the sort of thinking that caused Sony, completely dominant with the PlayStation 2, to have to scratch and claw its way to a competitive market share with the PlayStation 3. Each new console generation hits the reset button, as every gamer has to make a new choice about where they will spend their money.


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