As the title of this article explains the basis of my writing, I feel the need to skip an explanatory first paragraph and will instead jump straight into the facts and rumours that support my thinking. So here goes…
Fact # 1 – Microsoft are already planning to test a similar concept with casual gamers later this year.
As reported at the end of 2012 Microsoft have already put plans in action to release a set-top box aimed at casual gamers this year, with users having access to “core entertainment services”. This probably means focusing on downloadable games and entertainment applications already available on Xbox consoles along with a host of new features.
But what if it was possible to integrate the Kinect with your TV and have a full range of games available? With no need for a controller or wires to connect the previously separate parts, you could literally plug-in and instantly play on a single integrated device. Kinect’s 2.0 technology will most likely be smaller making this an entirely feasible idea.
Fact # 2 – Other technology has successfully integrated itself with TV’s in the past few years.
In December 2009 the first HD TV channels rolled out across the mainstream UK. Since then the TV has been adapting to a new world of innovation and integration with other technology. DVD players are now a regular feature in HD TV’s, as are integrated Freeview boxes and even in some cases both of these at the same time.
If there is enough space to fit this technology onto existing TV’s then surely the concept of having a fully integrated console is not all that far-fetched?
Fact #3 – Microsoft already have good relationships with many TV broadcasters.
Here in the UK I can access a whole range of on demand TV and film solely through my Xbox 360 console. I don’t have or need a TV licence, I don’t have or need a freeview box or any other kind of set-top box. Instead I watch all my TV on demand through the Xbox thanks to applications such as BBCi, 4oD, YouTube, Blinkbox and Love Film. The list of applications allowing me to view TV and listen to music are growing all the time, which just goes to show that Microsoft are viewed in good standing with the TV and music broadcasters.
The strong response could aid them in integrating the next-gen Xbox with TV’s and bringing about the multi-entertainment system that they so desire. Advertising to a mass audience and exclusive shows could be aired to console owners much like what we see on YouTube today.
Rumour #1 – Microsoft have been researching this technology for a long time.
Rumours have been around for a long time that Microsoft have been planning integration of their consoles with TV’s. It’s only recently that this has been proven somewhat true with the Xbox set-top box news mentioned above.
But if the rumours were true, Microsoft could have been planning and researching this since the release of the Xbox 360. They would have had plenty of time to concentrate on making this a possibility with the next-gen Xbox console.
Of course all of this comes with a few if’s and butts.
In order to gain the support of a large portion of the current console market, the integrated console/TV would need to provide everything a current console does. USB ports, a disk drive, the possibility of additional memory, internet access and the list goes on. The recent rise in popularity for cloud storage could solve the problem of additional memory. Currently however, cloud storage does not seem to be the stable house that we want it to be.
Then of course there’s the problem of breakdowns (or as the 360 generation knows it, the dreaded red ring of death). If one part of the integrated machine broke down, you couldn’t very well just sent your entire TV away to be fixed. The components of each device would need to be detachable in some way. This would further complicate the design features and compatibility of the devices.
Another problem that springs to mind. What if you wanted a next-gen Xbox but you didn’t need a new TV. Would there be a separate console available to anyone who didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to integrate? What positives or negatives would this hold over the integrated system?
These are all very interesting things to think about but the truth is that until Microsoft announce their next console, no one will ever really know.