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Microsoft XBox (Games) Games

What Microsoft Should and Shouldn't Do For the Xbox 720 502

Posted by Soulskill
from the forget-kinect-and-package-it-with-an-fmri dept.
donniebaseball23 writes "Xbox 360 just came off a record November, with more than 1.7 million units sold in the U.S., but behind closed doors Microsoft is planning its next move for the successor to the popular console. Plenty of Xbox 720 rumors have surfaced in recent months, but veteran games journalist Chris Morris has filtered through them to provide a realistic take on what Microsoft should and shouldn't do with Xbox 360's successor. In particular, he notes that Microsoft should adopt the Blu-ray format from Sony. 'A DVD drive as a medium for storing larger and larger games is outdated – and it steps on the toes of a system that bills itself as the high definition leader,' Morris writes. 'Microsoft resisted the move to Blu-ray this generation without any ill effects. It even survived picking the losing side in the format battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, but it can't rely on the DVD to take it into the next generation.'"
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What Microsoft Should and Shouldn't Do For the Xbox 720

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  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @07:39AM (#38368198)
    They will use some proprietary disc format for sure.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What's up with that? A reference to the number of times an electron must rotate before it returns to its original state?
    • They could use the standard blue ray format but simply use their own encryption on the data it contains. I can't see any good reason for them to spend millions developing a new hardware solution unless they're not confident of their own abilities to encrypt. And even if they did it wouldn't be long before someone plugged the drive into a PC and got it working somehow to be able to get the data off the discs.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      They could support blu ray and their own proprietary format from the same drive. Though Microsoft being Microsoft they'd probably not support Blu Ray even if their drive were physically capable of doing so, or if they did of charge $20 or something to enable the functionality.
    • by JMJimmy (2036122)

      disc formats are dead for the new generation (or should be). Flash drives make more sense in every area. Faster read, scalable cost (crappy games can use crappy flash drives, games that push the limits can use quality ones), can be sized to fit the game, more durable... etc. Heck, the music industry wants to switch to them to replace CDs - they make a lot more sense for games.

      • by JMJimmy (2036122)

        oh and I forgot to mention: It would make the consoles cheaper to produce and less prone to failure. Optical drive = high heat, lots of parts, requires a lot of physical space, etc. take that out and you could see $99-150 consoles a couple years in.

        • by delinear (991444) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @12:20PM (#38370886)
          Not to mention NOISY AS HELL. My old 360 sounds like a 747 on takeoff (admittedly that seems like the fan and the DVD drive trying to outdo each other). The new slim is a massive improvement but I still find I have to install the games to the hard drive to play as the DVD drive is the loudest component.
      • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:51AM (#38370480)

        Plus it opens up digital distribution to those out in the sticks through kiosks at the local Walmart/Gamestop/Whatever. Store the images on hard drives in the machine (which can be updated via the store's internet connection), fill it with generic Microsoft flash drives, customer comes up, picks their game, it dumps the image to a flash drive, prints a label and sticks it on, dumps it out the slot, and there you go.

        They can offset the costs to the consumer by charging more for the physical copies than they do for the downloaded one, while getting around the whole "what about people that don't have a fast internet connection?" limitation that keeps them from eschewing physical copies entirely. Plus, instead of the 20 games that Walmart keeps on hand to choose from, the customer would be able to buy any game, at any time, via the kiosk. No more shelf space taken up with 50 facings of Dudebro: My Shit Is Fucked Up So I Got to Shoot/Slice You II: It's Straight-Up Dawg Time [wikipedia.org], and 3 months later when they're sitting on 187 unsold copies, no more shipping them back to the distributor to end up buried in the Arizona desert under dark of night.

        Seems to me like it would be the most efficient way to go.

    • by Surt (22457)

      No, they'll go with blu-ray. Anything else would drive up the price of the console dramatically, and yield only a competitive disadvantage since it won't allow them to play movies.

  • Optical? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @07:43AM (#38368228)

    I wonder whether the next generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft will use discs at all. Perhaps we are not yet at the point where it is practical to download 30GB of game data, but with incremental background downloads it might be feasible in the 720's timeframe.

    Ultimately the OnLive model is clearly what we will all be using, but it'll be a while yet before low-latency broadband is ubiquitous.

    • Re:Optical? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Viol8 (599362) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @07:50AM (#38368266)

      Discs will remain as long as broadband speeds make downloading 50 GB (on a blueray, not 30) an irritatingly slow process. Besides which , not everyone wants to rely on always having a net connection just to use a piece of equipment.

      • Re:Optical? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by shish (588640) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:36AM (#38368502) Homepage

        Discs will remain as long as broadband speeds make downloading 50 GB (on a blueray, not 30) an irritatingly slow process

        How long would it take to only download the title screen and first level? You don't always need to have everything ready to get started

        • by Viol8 (599362)

          Even a level is probably quite a large lump of data for modern games and sods law says that just as you're about to do something crucial and the machine needs to download some more level data the broadband connection will go down.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      They'd take a huge step if they always offered both as an alternative. It's already this way with many Steam-required games today, you can buy them on DVD but you really only need the activation code, you can download the whole thing from Steam if you don't have the DVD handy or feel it's less hassle just to download it. It wouldn't be for everyone but I know some people with >20 Mbit Internet connections that would. If you do preloads so you only need the decryption key on release day a lot of people mi

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        They'd take a huge step if they always offered both as an alternative.

        have you run into a lot of games that you can't get from XBLM?

    • They have to have discs as long as there are big chunks of the US where downloading games is simply not possible. The US is MS' biggest market. They're useless in Japan and even Europe, aside from the UK, isn't that keen on the 360. So why limit sales in the only region that loves your system?
    • by swalve (1980968)
      Maybe they go back to the cartridge concept and use USB flash drives, or some kind of WORM memory? I know flash is more expensive at retail, but I wonder how much cheaper it would be if they were buying the media wholesale? Is there a cheap and high capacity WORM memory now? It might work out if they can save hassle by not having to include an optical drive in the console.

      Or they could do a thing where the games are available on flash drives, and on $5 or $10 cheaper blu-ray disks to people who have pr
  • will this machine be too early to just stream games rather than having discs?
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      You then have the issue of having adequate hard drive space. The size of DVDs was keeping the games down in size, but without that limitation, they're going to grow a lot. The PS3 certainly had no issue reaching 8GB for their games.

  • by indytx (825419) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @07:51AM (#38368278)
    The big question is will the M$ management be smart enough to milk the 360, or will they kill it off to force everyone onto something new. You would think that people with 360 who subscribe to Xbox Live would be a cash cow, but the M$ management has a long history of screwing its own customers to make them buy something new. I would be surprised if it didn't have Blu-ray support, but I would be more surprised if the system was the least bit open. On the other hand, I don't care. I kept waiting and waiting for 360 or PS3 prices to drop, and I waited so long that I lost interest. Hmmmmm, the yard needs mowing.
    • by X3J11 (791922)

      I picked up the 250 GB slim model just after Christmas this year for $199 CDN. No game bundle or other extras, but it was still $100 less than the normal price. I haven't seen the Xbox (with a hard drive, not the crappy 4 GB model) for a reduced price since, however.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      Don't all console makers do that? I think the only system that had any backward compatibility was playstation.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @07:53AM (#38368296) Homepage

    "What's wrong with Blu-ray? Everything except the fidelity of the content."

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:20AM (#38368420)
    I don't own a 360 (for a variety of reasons, of which I'm about to explain the key one) but every friend I know who owns one - _EVERY ONE_ - has had at least one fatal hardware failure with their device and several have had multiple fatal hardware failures. Simply put, I'm stunned at the failure rate for the 360 and I'm blown away that people tolerated it as much as they did. I really wish I was exaggerating when I say every friend I know who has one had it fail at least once. Usually it was a disk drive failure (kind of important for a disk-driven device...) but I really don't know of anyone who didn't suffer at least once failure.

    I know I amount to anecdotal evidence but when I see that large a collection of device failures (and the friends of whom I speak are spread across multiple countries from coast to coast so it isn't a local phenomenon), I have to think I'm actually not anecdotal evidence - I feel I'm witnessing a significant trend.

    The most important thing Microsoft needs to focus on with a new XBox is build quality. Everything else should come a distant second.
    • by djsmiley (752149)

      Now imagine how many more would be sold if there was no failing systems.

      Yes of course some of the sales figure comes out of the fact some failed and were replaced but everyone knows bad news has a larger effect than good news. So they'd still MASSIVELY gain sales if they didn't have the failures they did.

      Man, if they pulled it off, I could imagine sony pulling outta the game now.

  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:31AM (#38368474) Homepage Journal

    What Microsoft Shouldn't Do For the Xbox 720:

    • 1. Name it Xbox 720.
  • by unixisc (2429386) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:38AM (#38368512)
    Why use Blu-Ray or any disc formats @ all? All it does is limit how many games they can bundle, and increase the risk of mechanical damage to the disks. Instead, since flash memory densities - currently @ par with Blu Ray densities from 25-125 GB will be available - will increase every couple of years, why not make the storage of the X-Box one of those formats - be it SD, CF, xD or something? Just like the Sony PSP used Sony's memory sticks, MS could use SD if they want something standard, or xD if they want something proprietary. That way, they save on the Blu Ray drive costs as well - just have a slot for removable SD cards. Game makers can then choose to make heavy games that need 64GB, or light games that would fit on a CD which they can put into a 1GB SD. This would enable them to have a range of games for a range of prices. It also gets rid of the problem of Blu Ray drive related failures.

    Since I don't own games like PlayStation, Wii or X-Box, I have no ideas on what other improvements or pitfalls should be there.
  • Thumb drives now can easily exceed the capacity of a Blu-Ray. They are more expensive, but Microsoft can certainly bundle that price into the cost of the game and get a discount for buying in massive bulk? This would also prevent them from having an (expensive) optical drive with moving parts and the like. They could replace it with 2 (much cheaper) USB ports and call it a day.
  • A few of my own (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:42AM (#38368538) Journal

    DO: Make a sensible sized hard drive standard for every model. The 360 suffered early cycle because games were tentative about assuming that they could use a hard disk (the "core" model didn't have one). The 4GB drive that ships with the current model is also inadequate. 20GB for the bottom end model should be considered an absolute minimum.

    DO: Pack in the RAM. Of all of the factors that are driving developer frustration with the current console generation, RAM seems to be at the top of the pack. It's worse for the PS3 (with its awkward memory-split and larger OS footprint) than for the 360, but still... RAM is pretty cheap and packing plenty of it in will pay dividends in 5 years time.

    DO: Continue to develop what you've been doing on voice controls for the console's UI. I have mixed feelings about Kinect, but voice activation is really great - and has an appeal to a wide demographic.

    DON'T: Worry too much about making a loss on each unit sold for the first year or two. MS's objectives should be to get a large installed base early on and to make sure that their machine is fairly future-proof. This probably means selling at a loss early on. The real profits from a console come later in the cycle, when component prices have fallen, so you can reduce prices and still sell at a profit, and when you have third party developers giving you free money, by putting out games for your system (and paying you a fee on each copy sold) without you having to invest in development.

    DON'T: Allow your dev team to push out firmware updates every 5 minutes. The 360 has had a few too many firmware updates for comfort, but perhaps not to the extent of being a deal-breaker. With the PS3, the sheer frequency of updates (and the length of time they take) is intensely frustrating, when you just want to fire up the console and play a game.

    DON'T: Allow region locking. Sony have already ditched this and it did them no harm. MS knows region coding is junk; it doesn't use it for any of its first or second party games. Take the option away from developers; its time for them to grow up. It also reduces the incentive for people to get consoles mod-chipped - which in turn means they may be less likely to look into a bit of piracy. Which brings me onto the final point:

    DO: Assume that whatever copy-protection you put into the machine will get broken sooner or later and plan accordingly. Reduce the incentive for people to mod their consoles, rather than going for the punitive route. Don't region lock. Do offer up an "other OS" walled garden. Do make it as easy as possible for indie developers to get their software onto the platform.

  • Why not just have a 1TB HDD? Or a swanky SSD? That's the inevitability anyway. Store games in the cloud a la Steam and download them at your convenience. Don't fear the cloud. These days, such a move isn't bound to exclude many as it would have in the past.
    • by MrMickS (568778) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:55AM (#38368632) Homepage Journal

      Why not just have a 1TB HDD? Or a swanky SSD? That's the inevitability anyway. Store games in the cloud a la Steam and download them at your convenience. Don't fear the cloud. These days, such a move isn't bound to exclude many as it would have in the past.

      This would be a disaster as the XBox experience would be out of control of Microsoft. Instead they would be at the mercy of ISPs. This cannot be overstated. Regardless of the availability of fast Internet connectivity there is a lot to be said for the immediacy of plugging in the XBox, slapping in a disc, and just playing.

      Steam is an interesting experiment, and does work, but if you have issues with access to your account you can easily lose an hour or two sorting it out by which time you've lost your time to play.

  • 720 only? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Maljin Jolt (746064) * on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @08:51AM (#38368606) Journal

    I'll wait for XBox 1.44

  • I have three Xbox360s, each for a different room of the house. In addition to game consoles they function as media consumption devices for Netflix and for my mountain of movies on the NAS. However, It is such a pain in the ass to migrate between them (and you must, if you want your gamer profile & saved games to interoperate), that I've actually disconnected TWO of them and replaced them with smaller quieter Linux media centers (screw it, If I can only play games on one, I'll only play games on one).

    The DRM they employ is hurting their business. I'm thankful that I can re-download my content on different consoles, or swap my hard-drives around, but the fact is, I can only be signed in to XBL in one room at a time, and my Netfilx bandwidth isn't tied to XBL servers except artificially. When I want to play a game online, no one else can watch the movies or surf the marketplace which I pay to access. Yes, I can use separate accounts, but I shouldn't have to fragment my usage needlessly. Besides, I tried that already, trying to find the right drive or profile to play a specific game or movie is RIDICULOUS.

    Also, this "online pass" bullshit that's bundled with games has to stop. I already pay for XBL services, MS provides the matchmaking API, its XBL. Dear Epic, I've bought and played every game you ever made from Zork to Gears, but when your activation code prevented me from playing the game I purchased, because another player had used the online pass first, I decided to boycot you... We have 1 disc. Only one of us can play at a time online anyway. You once did produce truly beloved Epic MegaGames, but this bullshit attempt to rape the used game market has caused me to hate you.

    In short: SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! People will spend a lot more if you make it easier us to do so. Get rid of the DRM, or at least make it marginally usable.
    Until then, I think I'll start investing in your competitors: The DRM free, truly cross platform, charity supporting, indie games [humblebundle.com].

    • by Brownstar (139242) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:21AM (#38369434)

      For the first issue, MS has heard, and is addressing that on the 360, so I would assume that they would keep it in for the next version.

      Basically, if you're an XBox gold member (which from your post you are), with the most recent dashboard release, they allow you to save your profile, and game saves to the "cloud". So now, when you finish playing something downstairs, you can go upstairs, and continue playing from there, without needing to migrate your existing gamertag. (Although I've not used it, I would expect that you can only use your gamer tag on 1 Xbox at a time.)

  • Why not HDDVD? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RyoShin (610051) <`tukaro' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:35AM (#38369576) Homepage Journal
    Speaking of the format wars, why not chose HD-DVD as the format for the 720?
    • It's a proven format; it only lost in terms of sales.
    • Blu-ray still has only a small portion of the movie market, so DVD-only playback won't hurt them much. And during the format wars we had dual-players, so if they really want they can do that, too.
    • I'm sure there are still some machines used for pressing them sitting around in warehouses.

    And, most important:

    • Piracy. Piracy. Piracy. With HDDVD as the losing format, there are almost no HDDVD consumer burners out there, and the amount of blank HDDVDs is finite. This will make pirating for the 720 exceedingly hard, if not impossible, which is something that a lot of developers are worried about.

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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