The Next Xbox Reveal – Desires and Expectations

May 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Microsoft will announce their next console, and with it, the outline for their plans for the next generation of gaming. With the event scheduled to be an hour long, I thought I’d take a bit of a lighter view on things than last week’s piece, and lay out what I’d like to see, and what I expect to see from underneath the big black tent in Redmond next week.

What I’d like to see

1) I’d love to see the likes of Rare coming in with a massive new surprising IP. I mentioned on this week’s podcast that a new generation is the perfect time to launch new IPs, because you’ve got a captive audience, and I sincerely hope that Microsoft focuses on new and exciting titles rather than spending 15 minutes showing off CoD: Ghosts. While you’re at it, ditch Halo and Gears of War, if not for the whole future, at least just for this conference. Don’t rely on your crutches too much and show off something totally new.

2) Improvements on the dashboard/OS. I’m totally fed up with the Xbox 360 dashboard being plastered with adverts. I know it’s an old argument, but there are huge chunks of space on the main screen that have nothing to do with the game that you want to play. I’d probably be ok with context-sensitive adverts. In fact, here’s an idea. Whenever you put a disc in the drive (if indeed discs in drives are the way Microsoft go with this gen), what if the whole dashboard changed to suit the game? Have things like DLC highlighted in surrounding areas, or things like Twitter feeds from the developers. Anything but another bloody set of World of Warcraft ads!

3) A solid focus on the games. Let them do the talking for you, not this rumoured “take over the living room” thing. Cable boxes are going to be difficult to get into outside of the US, and I can’t see it being a massive selling point for a lot of folks who would be in the “maybe” camp if the price is high and “games console” aspect is played down.

4) The box itself. I think this is a given, personally. Larry Hryb (Major Nelson) said after the PS4 event “Announce a console without actually showing a console? That’s one approach”. To me, this shows that regardless of what they’ve got, they’ll be showing off the actual hardware itself.

5) The absolute minimum exposure for Kinect 2.0 (or whatever they end up calling it). As far as we know, it’s going to be included in every box, and will probably need to be connected for the console to work. But don’t blabber on for 20 minutes about everything that it’s going to do to change the world. The first one was good for three things; drunkenly screaming at your Xbox to get it to show you a movie, Dance Central, and physically doing the shouts in Skyrim.

6) Someone playing a game on a console that is not connected to the Internet for more than 3 minutes.

What I expect to see

Sadly, I can only see two of the six above happening. I fully expect the conference to focus on Kinect and the “new way to experience entertainment” that Microsoft seem so hell bent on pushing. I can see them overhauling the dashboard entirely, and bringing something completely new to the table in that regard, and I would be utterly shocked if we don’t see the console on Tuesday. Other things I’d be surprised not to see include:

1) An overly-long demo of Call of Duty: Ghosts, showing off shinier explosions, followed by Halo and Gears of War

2) A new partnership with EA, where they reveal that the recent demise of the online pass is to facilitate the new “Buy once, only once” method of selling games, rendering all used game sellers utterly useless

3) Cringe-worthy animated GIF fodder involving families sitting round the console in an advert, or some poor soul making his way onto the stage to give a Kinect 2.0 (can I just call it Kinext? Microsoft, I’m doing your work for you here) demo without too much of a clue how this is going to go down

4) At least one major, major surprise. I honestly think (and really bloody hope) that Microsoft have something secret hidden away that they’re going to utterly shock everyone with, and truly make the doubters go “wow!”

5) Usher.

6) Don Mattrick making a bad joke, trying to get the audience to laugh along, and then losing whatever shred of self awareness he had in the first place.

So, as I said, a slightly light-hearted (and a little shorter than usual) look at what I expect from next week. I’ve stated before that given the current state of the rumours, I’m going to be putting my money in Sony’s camp on day one, but I would love for Microsoft to make the decision a difficult one. I can but hope that they don’t suffer the “third console curse” and come out with a competitive machine that focuses on what’s gotten them into the position they’re in now. Because if they don’t, then Sony’s waiting behind them ready to deliver a knockout punch.

Don’t forget to check out my preview for The Last of Us, and I’ll see y’all next week!

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