Monday, April 21, 2014

Ten things Microsoft could do to make the Xbox One better.

In one month we are going to be coming up on the anniversary of the Xbox Ones unveiling to the world.  That was an exciting and simultaneously underwhelming day for most die-hard Microsoft fans.  The console looked spectacular, but the gaming consoles day in the spotlight was noticeably light on one major thing--games.  After that there was all the fervor over the DRM as well as always-online stuff which clouded even E3 when they did talk about games.

Since then Microsoft have done a decent job at turning the perception of the console around.  At one point it seemed as though the console was almost universally hated across the internet.  Today, while it isn't loved by all, the narrative towards it has changed dramatically.  Now it seems like people just want to say the console is weak which they have every right to do until Microsoft tells us otherwise.  I own an Xbox One and when all the games I am playing have either a lower resolution or lower frame rate than its Playstation 4 counterpart I have a difficult time not believing that I own the weaker console.

All this got me thinking though.  How does Microsoft again change the narrative of the Xbox One console?  What could they do to make the console stand out and shake that monkey it has on its back as the weaker console?

Here are the 10 suggestions I came up with:
  1. Remove some unnecessary Paywalls.  Needing Xbox Live Gold to use apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Xbox Music and even Skype is a really unfair thing to do.  Xbox Music is the one that bugs me personally the most because not only do I need to have Xbox Live to play my existing library of music, but I also need to have an Xbox Music which double sucks.  To make it worse I can listen for free on my PC with the same app.
  2. Introduce Xbox One Games with Gold program ASAP.  This was never an issue until the Playstation Plus program came out, but their attempt at matching it so far has been borderline insulting.  I completely understand the difference between the two in that on Xbox Games for Gold you now own it forever, but many of the games have been lackluster at best.  Xbox One users have had to unfortunately go without anything of the sort for 6 months now.  That is 12 free games if you consider how the program works.  Perhaps they will make it up to us in a big way, but no matter what happens they need to get that program up and running on the Xbox One ASAP.
  3. Get some of the major Apps ASAP.  I am not saying they should open the flood gates and start letting every crappy app onto the system, but for a system that is so obviously app driven there is a saddening lack thereof right now.  Apps like Plex, HBO Go, and the various professional sports league apps are sorely missed right now.  We all know that they are coming, but given the narrative right now the sooner the better!
  4. Xbox Music need its rights matched with the PC. There is nothing more irritating than having a song in a playlist on my PC and when I try to play it on my Xbox One it says that due to streaming rights it cannot be played.  This is annoying as hell for someone such as myself who is a huge lover of the tunes while playing games.
  5. Game sales.  We need more of them!  I am not saying I should be able to purchase Dead Rising or Forza for $5 right now, but I would own a lot more games if they weren't still $59.99 for a digital purchase.  Even at $44.99 I would have pulled the trigger on a few games like NBA, FIFA and others.  If they were aiming for a Steam-esque platform for game delivery they need to start marking down games.  The sooner this comes too, the better.
  6. Games in general.  We need more of them.  The console is new.  I get that, but so is the Playstation 4 and the early adopters of that console have enjoyed a steady stream of indie games.  In the age where the mid tier developers seem to have vanished we need those indie games to hold us over in between the AAA titles.  We have heard about a bunch of ID@XBOX titles, but Microsoft seriously need to get a move on and get more people developing games because unless the pace of releases picks up drastically we are going to be sitting without any new games quite often in this generation.
  7. Increase ACTUAL announcements.  I for one am beyond tired of them constantly teasing big news.  They never seem to actually have big news, but they are constantly moving that carrot on a stick further away and telling us great things are coming.  I am not saying I want a new AAA game announced every week, but they could take a page out of Sony's PR book on this one.  It seems like every few days they are talking about a new indie title coming to the system.  It is constantly a topic of discussion for Playstation 4 owners.
  8. Improve the systems UI.  I am not saying that it is bad by any means, but the loading of system vital apps such as the friends list should not take as long as it does.  That is irritating.  The other big gripe is the lag that happens for so many people when they have an app snapped.  I will use Xbox Music as my personal example.  It is incredibly tedious to navigate that while it is snapped because the highlighted item moves seconds after the input has taken place.  Those little things are a great cause of frustrations for us owners.
  9. Price/Value of the console needs to be improved.  The Xbox One from a consumers viewpoint is really not worth $499.  I do not regret buying it, but I can say that the cost does not currently justify what I have sitting in my home.  Through all official channels the Xbox One is $100 more expensive than the Playstation 4.  That alone is tough to overcome.  Pair that with the console, as far as we can all tell, being weaker it is troublesome to justify the price tag at the moment.  Throwing in Titanfall surely helped sell consoles, but it may be time to just drop the price of the console to $440, or lower, in order to spur sales.
  10. Change the message.  If I hear 50% more power again I may scream.  All the while Microsoft are being coy about the system and the systems power. Talking about DirectX 12, SDK updates and all that.  If the system has more power that is somehow untapped I think they may want to make that known and do it with some proof because talking doesn't do anything anymore.  All they've done is talk.  It is time to show.  This mantra of letting the games do the talking works for a while but when people are not buying your console at the rate of your competition you need to find a new way.
I do have some level of faith that Microsoft can pick up some steam in the coming months.  Mostly as a result of whatever they do at E3, but they are really going to have to turn some heads June 9th in California if they want the weaker-console narrative to cease.  Time will tell, but for now the 10 tips I gave are what Microsoft could do to change MY mind.  I just hope I am not entirely alone in my feelings.
What do you think?  Leave a comment!


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