REPLY TO ALL: The Next Tech Part 1

The release of the Nintendo 3DS has got us thinking about the technology that will be in the next generation of consoles. What do we think is going to be included in the next Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo console, and more importantly, what do we want to be included? Read on to find out.

Virtual Boy

Are we ready for the future?

Colefacekilla

I’m pretty happy with what Microsoft has been doing with the 360. Obviously everyone, including myself, wants better graphics but the main thing I want is day and date downloadable titles. I want the XBL Marketplace to be Steam for console video games. I want that for all the future consoles. I realize that a majority of the home console market does not have their consoles hooked up to the internet like PC owners do, but it is something that should be considered. Especially if game developers are wanting to combat the used game market and GameStop, they should push the format. Not to mention the costs that will be saved.

Besides what I said above, the only things I want from Sony is a better all around experience. It takes too damn long too download and install things. Fix that and I will be happier with your product. Better organize your PSN store, update the graphics and include cloud saves for everyone. There, that’s it.

As far as Nintendo is concerned, and they will not listen to a word I have to say because they do their own thing no matter what. Nintendo used to lead the market when it came to console power and I would love for them to do that again. Release a console that can compete with Microsoft and Sony as a whole, not just beat them with motion controls. Online gaming, a freaking hard drive, and get rid of those damn friend codes. Oh, and make sure I don’t get bored with the system after a few months. Thanks.

JDevL

Wow, Cole, you actually drew a conclusion to a lot of thoughts I hadn’t been able to put together. It seems ridiculous that in 2011 Steam is so far ahead of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo in the functionality of their marketplaces. I don’t envy any developer seeking approval from the big three to get their games onto their shops, let alone in a prominent way. A revamped marketplace is much needed. Although, I have a feeling that industry politics are the only thing standing in the way of the day and date downloadable titles.

I’ve also been a fan of Microsoft’s yearly dashboard updates and the experiments they seem to running right in front of us. Hopefully, it all gets turned into something amazing for the next Xbox’s OS and UI experience. Aside from basic tech upgrades (graphics, power, speed) I’d like to see more in the ways of integrating more entertainment content. I’ve recently started looking at Apple TV’s, Roku boxes, etc, and would love to not have to buy a separate box. Although, I get more than most out of my 360, it is still too difficult to use for my parents or non-gamers.

Also, they better sure as hell take my gamer profile with them to the new system. I don’t think that will be a problem, but stranger things have happened.

Red Ring of Death

A little less of this.

GiffTor

I’m sitting here reading Cole’s response and thinking about this and realize that, for the first time in 25 years or so of gaming, I don’t feel like I’m “missing” anything in this generation of consoles. That may be sacrilege, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something important with the graphics on the 360 and I think that the Xbox division of MS does a pretty good job with DLC. The controllers are fairly robust and well designed, the new form-factor Elite 360 is quiet, sleek and has an actual hard drive. My earlier complaint about how “on demand” isn’t really “on demand,” on XBL-Movies isn’t relevant after my most recent streaming event of Hot Fuzz.

What DO I want from the next Xbox? Maybe this? Sure, better graphics would be nice, but it’s nothing more than a “shiny” factor for me – as we’ve mentioned before, just because your graphics are stellar doesn’t mean your game is going to be great and just because your graphics aren’t show-stoppers doesn’t mean that your game can’t be a top-of-the-line experience. In light of my recent experience, I guess the only thing I’d really ask from Microsoft is a console that doesn’t go, “Zzzzzttt! pfff” every so often and that they consider moving to Blu-Ray even if it does mean they have to pay licensing fees to Sony. If they really want to make the Media Center an actual integrated “Media Center,” then they have to give me a reason to not buy other components (e.g., my not-made-by-Microsoft Blu-Ray player).

As for Nintendo, I’ve said it before: (ahem) try making a console with modern processors and storage media rather than what they did with the Wii. I loved my Nintendo 64 and GameCube. I haven’t gotten to spend time with the iconic Nintendo IP characters since moving on from the GameCube and that makes me me sad and angry. I want to have an interest in your console, guys, but you scored an #epicfail with the Wii. Do better.

Pixelmixer

One thing I’d really like to see is more cross-platform gaming. Nintendo really has their work cut out for them if they want to compete in that kind of market. They will definitely need to get rid of those friend codes and will need to introduce some sort of online service.

Portal 2 is going to be a good measuring tool to see how well a cross-platform system like that works. Valve has a good thing going and I’m hoping that will work out for them so we can see that move into Xbox as well as PC and ps3. It would be great to see the console makers play nice with one another so we can see more collaboration like that.

Portal 2

No connection issues here

JDevL

By cross-platforming, you mean being able to play against PS3 gamers from the 360? If that’s the case, I’d also like a free jet with my console :)

GiffTor

Pixelmixer – Can you elaborate on the Portal 2 cross-platform? JDevL, I’ll take that free jet with my console. I know it’s not the same business model (or tech) as on PC, but I can play Half -Life 2 on my HP with JDevL on his Alienware, so part of me thinks it’s a little bit of BS that I can’t play [insert PS3/360 game with great multiplayer here] across the platforms. I’m well aware that Half-Life 2 runs on the same code on my PC as JDevL’s and a console game for the PS3 doesn’t run on the same code as it does on the 360 AND that there are separate online services, but at the same time, I can email your hotmail.com account from my gmail.com account; I can use gchat on my PC to talk to you on gchat on your Mac. I know that’s probably making you CS/CE guys smack your foreheads because “things just don’t work that way,” but my response is a pretty unapologetic, “Why not? Fix it.”

JDevL

Valve

Leading the way again.

You’re absolutely right. It’s not as complicated as we think and there’s no technological reason. It’s just the politics, but I was surprised to see Valve and Sony play nice to make the cross-platforming work there so I’m happy to be wrong here. I just don’t see that part of the “console wars” fading by the next console launch. Maybe towards the end of the life cycle when someone starts to give up.

Just for fun my current prediction of the next steps. Sony gives up and Microsoft surges on the hardcore market by partnering with Valve/Activision for digital deliveries, and Apple buys/joins with Nintendo in the battle for our gaming souls.

Pixelmixer

That’s exactly what Valve is trying to do with the source engine and Portal 2. Previously cross-platform was never so much a technical issue as it was a political one. Console creators don’t want to acknowledge that other consoles exist and especially don’t want to help the others’ bottom line by giving them new business. So MS, Sony, and Nintendo will probably never advertise the fact that you may someday be able to play Mortal Kombat on Xbox with a friend on a PS3. However, where game engine developers come in, many of them don’t have allegiances to any particular device. Epic (UDK) and Valve (Source) are two of the better known engines that have the ability to let game devs branch out and easily build games that can be played cross platform. Portal 2 is one of the first to try it. So hopefully that goes well and we may see more of that soon.

JDevL

I like where your head is at, it gives me hope that some of these developers will be able to swing their weight around and make some global changes to the industry. Rather than being assimilated into it. Maybe I shouldn’t be focused on Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft and be putting my efforts into getting Activision/EA/ZeniMax to force changes (see what I did there, Ubisoft?).

GiffTor

See? Now that’s what us non-codemonkeys are good for: asking, “Um, excuse me, Oh High Priest of Game Engines? Can you please explain why I can’t play Game A for my 360 with Bob, who owns Game A for his PS3? Because I don’t see any really obvious reason staring me in the face.” But seriously, since the consoles are already specialized PC gaming units and we’re seeing things like Ubisoft’s separate marketplace pop up (see Asassins’ Creed Brotherhood), it makes me think that perhaps the console manufacturers would be better served to get on this boat as soon as possible before the developers take the option to be included in how cross-platform gaming develops out of the manufacturers’ hands.

Pixelmixer

Giants and Titans

?

It would definitely be nice to see those gaps between systems dwindle. I’m not sure what I’d prefer more though, a market controlled by software giants or a market controlled by hardware titans.

From what I’ve been reading about the state of the industry implies that innovation is quite stagnant on consoles. Microsoft has been very busy working on mobile devices so I’m thinking that another path that would be nice to see, on the same lines of the cross-platform topic, is more creative inclusion of platforms with physically different capabilities. It is really something that has not been done much.

Imagine a game that can be played as an FPS on your console at home, then when you leave your phone pulls you into a top-down perspective where you’re now finding and tagging enemy groups on a battlefield for your friends on the console. You have a better tactical view from the top. Then you move to the PC an you’re managing and coordinating naval assaults or building up bases for your FPS buddies to regroup. The game using the closest mechanics to date that I’ve seen is actually an online Tiger Woods game that allows you to start your game on your PC and move on to finish it on your phone.

Coopopolopolis

I’m with Gifftor and Pixelmixer on this one. I actually don’t feel like I’m really missing anything right now except the time to enjoy the games I have. The Xbox can do pretty much everything that I need it to do. The graphics look great, and the controller is damn near perfect. Sure the graphics could look better to compete more with high end computer rigs, but for as old as the console is it still looks great. My one complaint is hard drive space. With all of the on demand games and DLC I wish that Microsoft would sell disk space at a reasonable price. I don’t want to pay $120 for 250 gig when I just bought 1TB for my computer for $60. At least remove the limit on removable storage. Let me hook my own external hard drive to it for extra space.

Hard Drives

So expensive

Now back to Dustin/Pixelmixer. I totally support cross platform integration. Now that my younger bro has gone PS3 that pretty much gives up most of the hope of me every playing online with him. It’s definitely politics, and its dumb. I feel like Microsoft has been working on this for a while within their own realm. Couldn’t Xbox users play online with PC users in Shadowrun? Maybe I’m wrong here but i know that was supposed to be a feature. I think its cool what MS is trying to do with the Xbox to phone thing, however I still think that phones just need their own games. The touch experience is completely different, and even though the hardware might support it I’m not really a fan unless someone comes out with a controller attachment. As fading the line between systems I really don’t think that it would change a whole lot for the hardware manufacturers. You’re still going to have your exclusive titles that will keep people loyal to their hardware as well as the extra online features and integrated services, but I think it’ll actually help both sides by opening up the online aspect. I think it would get more people online and enhance the online experience as a whole.

Conclusion

The ideas aren’t slowing down, we’ll continue this conversation next week as we look at game consoles as media hubs and better ways to handle streaming content.

Sources:

Giant Bomb (images)