Next Xbox

So the next Xbox was officially announced recently. Since I'm a massive gamer, this is big news for me. The reveal is set for the 21st May, and is going to be streamed on Xbox LIVE. Obviously, I'll be watching. I just thought I'd write a bit about what I'd love to see in the next Xbox (not necessarily the games), and my opinions on some of the rumours that have been floating around in recent weeks and months.

Achievements 

Achievements are the main reason why I play video games. Why? Because I straight-up love unlocking them. They make you play a game in a way you don't usually. Take Skyrim - normally, I would just play through the main story and be done, but achievements give you the chance to explore the incredibly expansive universe around the story. It would be frankly insane if they didn't carry achievements across to the next system, and given how they are present in Games for Windows Live, Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS and on the web, I would be incredibly surprised if they didn't carry across.

Digital Distribution 

For a while, I didn't like buying downloadable games. I always preferred to have a disk in a box. This carried across for all forms of media. Recently however, I've started downloading movies, TV shows and music off iTunes because it's both cheaper and more convenient. I recently bought Batman: Arkham City on Games on Demand because it was on sale for about £7, half the price of any disc version I have seen. I've currently got three CD cases for carrying my games and films between university and home, and having them all on a console or laptop that I bring with me anyway would be great. I would love to see the next Xbox launch with downloadable versions of every game that gets released, or at least it would be great so see Microsoft commit to releasing their own games at release on demand.

Controller 

I love the Xbox controller. I have large hands, so it is a much better fit for me than the PS3 controller. In terms of actual inputs, I don't think that anything additional is needed like the touch-pad for the PS4, although it will be interesting to see how that's used. I'm thinking of getting an iPhone soon, so will start using the Xbox SmartGlass app, and I hope that it is expanded to include more games than the six or seven so far. Kinect 2.0 is also inevitable. I never got a Kinect, because I couldn't justify the £130 cost for no games that I would play. Since then, I've bought a few games with Kincet support, but not as a core functionality. If the next Xbox was bundled with Kinect 2.0 at launch, I would probably buy it, and hopefully the number of games that support it would increase.

Blu-ray Player 

A Blu-ray player, or at least a high-capacity disc-drive is a must if games are not available for download. I own a Blu-ray player for the few Blu-rays I own, but having one in the next Xbox would be one less box I have to move around with me, and mean that games can be bigger, better and have incredible graphics. It would also negate the need for multiple discs that are becoming commonplace now. 

Recording Gameplay and Sharing 

I'm split on this one. Depending on how it's implemented, it could be brilliant, but equally, it could turn into everything I hate about social media. Having the ability to record gameplay footage native on the Xbox would be a very powerful tool for many people. It'd allow my friends to record their side of games with me, and I can edit it. I currently use an external capture card to record gameplay footage, so I personally don't have a need for it. What I really don't want is a share button like the PS4, because I can see that turning Facebook and Twitter into spam-fests of people uploading millions of  their incredibly boring 360-no-scope-headshots.

Hard Drives 

The 250GB hard drive on the Xbox 360 is not at all bad. I don't have a huge amount of Xbox LIVE Marketplace content, but I do have 200GB or so of games downloaded to my Xbox. If games are going to be getting bigger, then bigger hard drives are definitely going to be needed. What would be great is for any hard drive (of any size) to be supported for storage. USBs up to 32GB are supported for the Xbox 360, but that's only just the size of two games, so support for as much as 1TB would be great to see.

Backwards Compatibility

This is one that is brought up at every new console cycle. To be honest, I really don't see it happening with the next Xbox. There are rumours that it's going to be using an AMD x86 architecture, very different from the Power PC in the Xbox 360. This means it is very unlikely that current console games will be available for play on the next Xbox, as much as I would like to see it. This means probably hanging onto my 360 for a year-or-so until there are more games to play on the next console.

Always Online 

This has exploded recently after a Microsoft employee's comments on the matter. Personally, I don't think it would be a good idea to make the next Xbox an always online console since some people just don't have access to a stable internet connection (myself included, at home at least). I do however try to spend as much time as I can online while I'm on my Xbox, so this probably won't affect me too much.

 Used Games

Again, there have been many rumours flying around about this one recently.  Blocking used games does make sense to an extent, but I still don't really agree with it. I used to buy a lot of games used (mainly on the previous console generation, but a few on this), but I've not bought many used of late. Most notable would probably be the Mass Effect trilogy, which I picked up for £37 total about a year ago. I probably would never have bought them had I not seen all three games in the store for that price. Oh, and they turned out to be some of the best games I've played. I think too many people will simply not buy the console if it blocks used games outright. Maybe something similar to the online pass, but hopefully for a lower cost. It's also very difficult to get a hold of new copies of older games from the start of the console generation, because they simply are not produced any more, or are outrageously expensive.