Since its first, somewhat disastrous announcement, Microsoft’s been on the back foot with the Xbox One. But even though the One is losing to Sony in the next-gen console battle – at least as far as sales so far go – the war is far from over. Microsoft looks to be on a mission to refine its vision for the Xbox One, but we thought we’d give the gaming giant a helping hand all the same. Here’s our foolproof plan to push the Xbox One into pole position…anything you'd add?
Kill the Xbox 360
Sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. For many of the millions of Xbox 360 owners out there there’s simply not enough of a reason to upgrade, and it’s because most of 2014’s AAA titles are landing on new and old consoles alike. It might ruffle a few feathers, but making games like Watch Dogs, Metal Gear Solid V and a Titanfall sequel next-gen only would force a lot of 360 players’ hands. In other words, put the decade old Xbox 360 out to pasture, and gently coax people to make the jump, perhaps with a few free months of Live Gold to sweeten the deal.
Make it even cheaper
In May, Microsoft drove the Kinect-bundled Xbox One to the woods and set it free, but is the resulting price drop enough? Sans motion sensing, voice recognising Kinect, the Xbox One is now $399, putting it dead level with the Sony PS4. That’s a great start, but if you really want to grab the on-the-fence buyers’ attentions – and their cash – then crashing the One down to a solid $350 would make it a complete no brainer. Microsoft would need to be prepared to take another hit on every Xbox One sold, but console manufacturers rarely make profit from the box itself anyway. Who dares, wins.
Make 360 games work
One of the Xbox One’s biggest misfires is it’s lack of backwards compatibility. It means that anyone upgrading to the One will find themselves in ownership of a library of suddenly useless last-gen titles, which might put them off upgrading all together. The answer? A streaming service to match PlayStation Now, letting Microsoft get round the difficulties of different hardware architecture and just stream games to players' homes from their servers. It's not like Microsoft doesn't know a thing or two about the cloud, is it?
Make SmartGlass Smarter
Microsoft has an ace up its sleeve in SmartGlass, the Windows tablet and phone companion app, but it’s not using it to its full potential. If it were up to us, we’d allow the app to stream games from the Xbox One to a compatible tablet over Wi-Fi, a bit like Steam in-home streaming works between PCs now, and similar to PS4 Remote Play on the PS Vita. Just hook up an Xbox One game pad over Bluetooth, and boom: you’re playing Titanfall in the bathroom.
If there’s one title that’s guaranteed to drive up Xbox One sales, it’s Halo 5: Guardians. The only problem? It’s not out until at least halfway through next year. While we appreciate that it takes a great deal of time to craft a next-gen epic space shooter, every new console needs its exclusive flagship titles on the shelves from as close to launch as possible. If we were in charge we’d have developer 343 Industries working round the clock.
Ink a deal with Sky
When the Xbox One was first announced, it was being touted as an all round behemoth of home entertainment. It’s a games console, sure, but it also hooks up to your set top box and acts as a TV guide, making it a one-stop shop. Or at least that’s the idea. In the US it integrates with many cable services, but in the UK and Europe that’s not yet come to fruition. A golden handshake between long-time collaborators Microsoft and Rupert Murdoch's Sky broadcaster could change that. We’re imagining a day when the Xbox One could do away with our set top boxes altogether – the tried and tested Sky remote working perfectly with the One, and all our recordings landing straight in its inbuilt hard drive. Fewer boxes and streamlined viewing – isn’t that the dream?
Make Xbox Live free
Come on, Microsoft; you’re halfway there! The Gold membership may no longer be needed to access streaming apps like Netflix, but it’s still a barrier to entry for online multiplayer, which is the Xbox’s bread and butter. Sony has a paid-for service in its Playstation Plus program, but it’s only recently begun charging gamers to jump into online Call of Duty deathmatches. If Microsoft knocked down the paywall in earnest, it’d be another thing to scrub from the PS4’s list of advantages.
Name us a console in the history of gaming that launched with any more than a handful of really great games and we’ll eat our gamepads. And don't say Super Mario 64 – that was a magnificent anomaly, and we all know it. The simple fact is it takes time for developers to squeeze the most out of the machine, and years for the library of top titles to flesh out. Buying the Xbox One now is like buying a bottle of fine wine: it’ll be tasty today, but trust us: in a couple of years it’ll be so much better.
What would make you buy an Xbox One? Have one already? Tell us what you think it needs in the comments below!
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