The Electronic Entertainment Expo is just around the corner and if there’s one hardware manufacturer that has the most to gain, or lose by their showcase this year, it’s Microsoft.
It may be hard to believe that those little wonder-boxes under our TV’s are only Microsoft’s second iteration of the Xbox system, and if Xbox 3 is to make any sort of public debut this year it will have to be at the worlds’ largest gaming convention, E3.
We put together a list of what we think Microsoft will showcase at this years’ event, and what we feel it needs to do to steal the show!
There’s nothing for it. If Microsoft wants to make a splash at E3 this year, it needs to take the veil off Xbox 3 (née Xbox 720) in a public and dramatic way.
We’re not expecting a 2013 launch at this point, in fact we doubt PlayStation 4 will hit most Western countries this year, but Microsoft will be crazy to make eager gamers wait another year with no official confirmation that the system exists.
So how will Microsoft unveil Xbox 3? Expect an epic FPS title, most likely Halo or Battlefield 4 to be there, as well as a handful of bright, colourful, family friendly titles. We think Microsoft will aim to have the Xbox 3 the “every man” console and try to emulate the success their operating system Windows had by emphasising creativity and basic, everyday functions.
This may also apply to the costing of the console. We expect a conservative but modest jump in computational power over Xbox 360 with emphasis on free online services and video streaming, but nothing too dissimilar to the PlayStation 4 in terms of horsepower.
Xbox 360’s Swan Song
After seven solid years of video game awesomeness, we refuse to believe the end of Xbox 360 lies in interactive Sesame Street experiences. Xbox 360 needs a swan song, and one that makes us all say “yes, this is why I bought an Xbox 360″.
It’s never too late for new IPs and if anyone needs them, it’s Xbox 360. Master Chief has served well in his tenure as Xbox mascot, but it’s time for a new series that will bridge the two generations in a unique and fun way.
Xbox 360 simply can’t end in a sea of first-person shooters, sequels, and people hopping around trying to get their Kinect sensor to work. This is especially true if we are to wait another year before seeing Xbox 3. Where’s Microsoft’s answer to Mario? Their Sack Boy killer?
2013 might be Xbox 360’s last year, but that does not excuse it from having great exclusive titles. We expect to see something new for the console before the end.
While we can understand the reason manufacturers rarely announce prices at product debuts, Xbox 3 needs to give gamers piece of mind that it wont send us all broke.
Likewise, Xbox 360 is quickly becoming more and more accessible to all kinds of gamers, so we want a better price to reflect that. Just as Microsoft would be loathe to let Xbox 360 die off without a last hurrah, it would be equally annoying to let that console fizzle out considering it has never been so popular.
A better price and smaller form factor would seal the deal for Xbox 360’s continued existence as a consumer product while the company pushes the latest Xbox 3. This new version of Xbox 360 could do away with the disc slot altogether and offer consumers download-only titles. Xbox Live is, after all, heavily populated with some of the best games around.
Most importantly, video game prices need to be addressed. For the most part, purchasing a game has been costing more and more. New consoles are all well and good, but they would be nothing without games to play on them. In Australia, we’re paying $110 for certain games these days, it would be horrendous to expect any more simply for prettier graphics.
Let’s hear prices at E3 this year. If that’s impossible given the timing, we should at least walk away from LA with the feeling that next year we’ll be able to afford our favorite past time!
Ditch the Tablet, Give us a Handheld!
Microsoft are a great gaming company. They seem to know what makes a fun experience in the video game arena. They seem to understand that we’re paying a lot of money for these things, so we should be having a premium experience.
What they seem to overlook, however, is the fact that most of us don’t have the luxury of being at home all day, every day.
Taking Xbox games on the road would be awesome, and if Microsoft took a leaf from Nintendo’s book (that favours original titles over console-ports like Sony’s Vita), then we could see a raft of creative, Western-friendly games pop up. All the better if Microsoft used their online expertise in the handheld gaming space.
An Xbox handheld console is not the hardware Microsoft needs to succeed in gaming, it would more be a love letter to gamers everywhere who want that Xbox touch in their handheld experience. And let’s face it, tablets and smart phones are not great for serious gaming; we need buttons and a custom system crafted especially to play games.
Will we ever see a Microsoft handheld gaming machine? We hope so, and the sooner the better!
A Push Towards Human Experiences
Video games are fun, challenging and rewarding but for the most part they lack in human, emotive expression.
How many games have you played where you’ve mowed down an entire army of enemies only to reload, turn the corner and keep going? When your in-game horse gets shot in the face by an arrow-happy foe, do you weep for its survival, or go looking for another horse?
The reason is not that gamers are emotionless zombies — video games are simply not there yet.
Part of this comes down to developers’ talent and creative freedom, part of the reason lies in commercialisation. But for the most part, video game consoles lack the capabilities to emotionally connect gamers to the world they’re playing in.
There are tricks that developers do take when they get the chance, though. Music, story direction and acting come into play, but for the majority of games there’s a barrier of disconnect between the player and the avatar.
Xbox 3 needs to blur that line with creative ways to overcome that barrier. Do we need to see blood, sweat and tears to emotionally connect with the character running around infront of us? Do we need more computational power to show the consequences of our actions? Is it simply a matter of providing gamers with 7.1 channel surround sound to immerse them into the world a little more?
We wish we had the answers, but we wish Microsoft have come up with those answers more-so. The next generation of gaming will not have to look better, it needs to feel better and Xbox 3 is the perfect machine to deliver on this requirement.
This is our wishlist, what’s yours? Is there any one particular thing you want Microsoft to announce at this year’s E3? Have your say in the comments below!