With E3 around the corner next-gen gaming is the talk of the console town right now. Rumours and opinions are being spread all over the columns and the forums, suggesting anything from what the next Sony and Microsoft consoles will be called, to specs of said consoles, to games that will feature on said consoles and features that they may include. None of these rumours have yet been confirmed but what I’m sure about is the image in my mind of what next-gen gaming means to me. There are things that I would love to see changed and things that have been mentioned on the rumour wheel that I’m praying do not make an appearance. In the paragraphs ahead are five of the ideas I have pictured next-gen gaming to be composed of (or in some cases, hopefully not). I would love to hear your feedback on these ideas, maybe you could even share some of your own. These ideas are aimed to include the whole industry of consoles but as my experience with this generation is from PC and Xbox 360 it might swing heavily in that direction.
More Secure/Better Cloud Storage System
Cloud storage exists in a very basic form on Xbox consoles at the moment. It allows people to store only 514 megabytes of save data which they can then access anywhere in the world on another Xbox console and continue from their saved game. 514 megabytes in this day of HD and massive games is not a great deal and this would equate to around 10 saves of Skyrim or another similar game.
Assuming that cloud storage was one hundred per cent safe, imagine what it would be like having your whole hard drive on a cloud storage system. Let’s just say the worst was to happen to your console and it was stolen, destroyed or damaged and a nice shiny new one appeared on your door thanks to the nodding dog insurance co. Wouldn’t it be great knowing that all your hard effort and hours of progress was just waiting for you to access once again?
Another reason full cloud storage would be good is in the case of playing with friends or on different consoles. Having a session of Call of Duty with your friend down the street, assuming your not playing over XBL, would be as easy as remembering your gamertag and password to load onto his console. Giving you full access to your saves and loadouts instead of only joining him as a guest.
There’s also the benefit of extra space (be that very minimal) in the casing of the console, reducing size or allowing space for some other software.
Cross Platform Gaming
We are already starting to see this with games like Dust 514 and EVE Online where players playing both games can impact on each others world even though they are playing on different consoles. There are also iOS games in development such as Dark Legends where you can start off on a phone or ipad, save your data and continue your original save game on a PC, another reason why cloud storage could come in handy in the future. Valve also reportedly scrapped plans to make Counterstrike: Global Offensive cross-platform between PS3 and PC as it would take a lot longer to make updates active on Sony’s console. Sony and Microsoft are well-known to stick to their guns when it comes down to releasing updates and maybe the console giants would need to be more lenient to allow this kind of thing to happen in the future?
The Xbox 360 can already wirelessly connect to your PC so why couldn’t they at least utilise local connections between the two for co-op gaming. Of course if it was to be done competitively people would complain about one console having a certain advantages that another doesn’t. However, I’m pretty sure that Microsoft, owning most of the PC market and Xbox, could work out a get around to that if they really wanted to.
Better Xbox Marketplace and XBLA Offers
If the recent rumours are anything to go by, consoles are heading the way of solely digital content for games and less and less of the physical disc. There’s many a site or shop you can go to and purchase a heavily discounted physical version of a game that may only be six months old. Low price digital copies of games are also easy to find on sites like GamersGate and Steam, but offers on the Xbox Marketplace are few and far between comparatively and old games can cost just as much as new ones.
The Xbox does have Deal of the Week, giving discount on downloadable content, but this is only available to paying Xbox Live Gold members. It also only consists of around four or five items and as the name suggests, only changes once a week. Compare this to the PC’s biggest digital content supplier, Steam. Steam has daily offers, many that exceed 50% discount, offers on new games, bundle offers and basically, offers galore. If the Xbox Marketplace was more like this I know for sure that I personally would have used it a lot more. I’m not saying that it should become totally like Steam or GamersGate but some leeway in pricing would be nice.
Sony seem to be much further ahead in this respect with their recent update to PlayStation Plus. Not only does PlayStation Plus offer discounts between 20-80% on selected games, they also offer free games every month such as hit indie title Plants Vs. Zombies along with a host of other offers. This comes at an annual cost of £49.99 though, a price that many see as not worth it. Sony are rumoured to be planning a revamp of the service to be announced at E3.
More Integration With Social Networking, Better Profile Options
Again this another thing that is already available in a basic form on consoles. On Xbox 360 you can already access Facebook and Twitter but what I would really like to see would be your Xbox 360 profile becoming your social network page. Microsoft have just launched their very own social networking site www.so.cl and this could work very well at merging with your consoles profile. This profile could then be easily accessed and changed on a PC as well as your console along with cross usage of many features and sharing of information.
Don’t Do Away With The Disc
Doing away with a disc drive altogether would be a mistake in my opinion. There are still many gamers among us who, without strong internet connections or the means to pay for online subscriptions, rely on single player games to keep them happy. No disc drive would mean access to games would most likely be download only. Since you need an internet connection, and in the Microsoft’s case, an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you would be alienating any and all of these players.
I don’t know if it’s just me but having grown up with almost my whole gaming life consisting of inserting various discs into various consoles (bar the Gameboy and N64) it would seem like a bit of a shame to lose one of the few things that keeps the consoles on par with PC’s. I mean why get a console that will take only digital media, when you could buy a PC that would take both digital and disc, can adapt to controllers through software like x-padder (and increased compatibility with certain games) and can be upgraded almost at will? If you keep chipping away at what makes a console a console then you might as well buy a PC.