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The must have next-gen features for the Xbox 720

by William Schwartz

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It’s assumed that Sony’s announcement event for the PlayStation 4 is only days away. But what about Microsoft? If Sony reveals their next-gen hardware at their February event, Microsoft won’t be far behind. How can the console maker satisfy long time Xbox fans (like myself), outside of the continuation of the Halo franchise? Here’s our must-have specifications and features for the Xbox 720.

Backwards Compatibility for Games:

Honestly, this is a huge one.  Of course the next console will be technologically bigger and better, but if I can’t play some of my favorite games from the Xbox and Xbox 360, I will be highly disappointed.  There’s always the choice to hold onto the nostalgia and play on my original Xbox like people play on their NES or N64’s today, but I just don’t feel that the current consoles have the same nostalgic value.  What I don’t want to see is the library of games from previous consoles upgraded to HD and resold.  I already have the game, just let me play it.  So, Microsoft, at least make the 720 compatible with all Xbox 360 games, but original Xbox games would be nice too.

Furthermore, Microsoft ushered in an era of digital delivery with the Xbox Live Arcade on the Xbox 360. I would hate to see some Arcade classics not be compatible with the new console, and games like Minecraft still have a lot of daily players who would be stuck buying a brand new version of the game if this feature wasn’t included.

Backwards Compatibility for Controllers:

Now this one is sort of a stretch, but seeing the ability to use 360 controllers with the next console would not only be consumer friendly, but greatly appreciated.  Production for the Xbox 360 controllers and gear could be slowed, but having the ability to use those controllers and not have to shell out another $60 (I can’t see it going higher) for new controllers would be great.  Of course, the new controllers and gear will most likely have new features specific to the next console and won’t be able to work with the Xbox 360, but I predict that you won’t see the basic design of the controller change that much; just like Sony’s alleged touch screen feature for the PS4’s controller.  So though this is a long shot, it would be convenient.

500gb Hard Drive:

The new console needs to come out with a heartily-sized hard drive; This means no basic version with little to no hard drive.  There were quite a few issues with the 4gb Xbox 360, for example Halo: Reach’s issue with coop.  My issue with the tiny hard drive is that it basically plays off of the unknowing consumer.  They see the bundle as a great deal, but they don’t feel the repercussions later when they can’t download things and have to pay more money for something that they should have received in the first place.  So, no skimping on the memory space.  Even if the consumer isn’t going to use all of it, it is a nice sentiment that your Xbox 720 is future proof.

Expanded Xbox Live Membership:

Though this technically isn’t about the console, it is something that needs to be addressed.  I think if Microsoft wants to get more people to switch to/purchase  the Xbox 720 as a universal home entertainment system, they need to expand the features of the current Silver and Gold memberships, or they need to create a third membership option.  For ease, let’s call this third membership “Platinum.”  It’s got a ring to it, no?  So either Silver membership needs to encompass the ability to use apps such as Netflix, Internet Explorer, etc. or the services need to be distributed among three memberships.  The Silver would allow for basic usage: using basic apps, downloading content, TV streaming etc; Gold could allow for expanded apps usage, downloading content, TV streaming, and most importantly online gaming; The “Platinum” membership could allow for (in addition to everything offered with Gold): early access to demos, betas, exclusive deals, a rebate/reward system on Microsoft Points, etc.  Also, an expansion of a third membership would shift costs of membership.  Silver would be free to allow consumers to see what Xbox Live offers, Gold could be between $35-50 a year, and “Platinum” would be $60-75 a year.  

Of course to get people to pay more for “Platinum,”  Microsoft would have to bring some real features to compensate consumers.  Not only do I want to see a shift in memberships, but I want to see an expansion in Xbox Live features.  It’s great to have music, tv, etc. on the console, but bring me the games.  Host public tournaments, gaming events, etc. that get the community involved.  But not only that, plow back some of those billions into the system and really advertise them.  Right now there are little ad squares, but I’d like to see it expand into full blown events that reward gamers and encourage playing games.  I’d keep an eye out for some sort of change with the Xbox Live structure in the next-generation.

GAMES!!!

New, original, IPs are going to be the main attraction.  Nobody is going to lay down $300-$400 for a box that let’s them watch Netflix, when they probably have SmartTV that does that already.  I can’t wait to see new games that nobody has even heard of.  If at 2/3 of the launch title games aren’t original IPs, I’ll be slightly disappointed.  I love my Halos and Gears of Wars, but if I don’t get some new games where I can kill aliens with mind bullets from a peanut butter shotgun, I will be a sad panda.

Expanded Smart Glass Support

Obviously Microsoft is going to do this, but what I would like to see is the option to use your tablet as the controller.  Now, I know tablets don’t have triggers, but I think that Microsoft may have something up their sleeve when it comes to a solution.  I wouldn’t put it past them to come out with a controller similar to the Wii U GamePad, but with specific Smart Glass functionality.  I imagine this new tablet controller would be slightly smaller than the Wii U’s GamePad, but would offer a 4 – 6 inch screen.  This would allow for gamers to have their tablet and controller in one, instead of having to switch between the two to experience Smart Glass.  This controller could release alongside the standard controller and it would be a solution for gamers that don’t already own a tablet.  I could see them pricing it between $100-150, but consumers would still have the option to play with the standard controller.  Whether or not the screen could also be used for games like the Wii U could also be a possibility.  Now remember, I just made this controller up and it’s probably not real, but you can imagine it now can’t you?

Disc Slot Please!

This is the smallest of all the changes, but I could go for a disc slot instead of the tray.  Seeing the PS3 and Wii eject discs from slots just adds to create a sleek, contemporary, and safe design, while every time I open my Xbox 360’s disc tray, I pray to the gods that nobody walks passed and snaps it off.  And I can’t even count the number of times my disc tray has gotten stuck. I’m sure you can get a disc stuck in a disc slot, but it just looks far more aesthetically pleasing.  If the Xbox 720 has a disc slot, then Gods Be Praised!

Reasonable Price

NO HIGHER THAN $400!  I can’t see Microsoft going any higher than $400, but I think it could possibly be capped at that.  My ideal price for the new console is $300.  I believe that’s where it will sit.

Some of this wishlist is a stretch, but I think if Microsoft actually delivers on any of them a lot of gaming fans will be happy with the Xbox 720. Microsoft has yet to announce or even confirm that their next-gen console is in the works, but with Sony set to announce the PlayStation 4 in mere days, it wouldn’t be a long shot to assume that the company is readying their own reveal for later this year.

What are your must-have features for the Xbox 720? Let us know in the comments section below!

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