games / Columns

The 8 Ball 02.19.13: Top 8 New Console Requirements

February 19, 2013 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome to yet another installment of the 8 Ball. The topic this week is what the new generation of consoles (PS4, New Xbox, Wii U…somewhat), should have in order to be enticing to people. There is already a lot of hesitation within some people about why we need new consoles or how they are going to be different. I outlined the things I want the new consoles to have below, at least in my estimation on how they can work out. Let’s begin:

8. The same video/audio applications as the previous systems


All the video stuff for the 360, Wii, and PS3 was kind of bolted on as the console generation went on. Generally it has done ok, but it’s still not perfect in spots. The Wii U does get some of this right, but the inherent slowness to the overall UI makes it a chore to navigate around to get what you want to see. I’m hoping that both the new Playstation and Xbox consoles can get this feature right, from the first day the consoles launch. There are a ton of people who use the current consoles now *just* for video applications, and if this feature isn’t included from the start, they might miss out on some of the casual audience.

7. No pay-gating of Online Play


The PS3 already does this, but the security wasn’t implemented well, especially in spring 2011. Microsoft has always had a closed system which makes it a little better to defend against hackers, but not impenetrable. The issue with the 360 thought was you needed to have Xbox Gold in order to use most of what Xbox had to offer. While this has generated massive amounts of income for them, it has also had an effect on some people who don’t want to pay for online play. I have at least two friends who are like this, and are kind of nuts about it being the sole reason they won’t get a 360. I’d simply do away with this rule and have basic online play for everyone. If you want to create parties (of more than 2 people), clans and the like, then you can charge, but the basic functionality should be free. Whether Microsoft does this is debatable, but if the rumor is that they require your console to be online, then it has to happen.

6. Mandatory Generic Hardware Usability


Both current consoles are already about 75% the way there, but not close enough. What I want for both new consoles is for each to have more open-ness when it comes to how the systems are built. Basically, I don’t want any stupid proprietary nonsense when it comes to the storage mediums. The 360 is by far the biggest offender, since you can’t plug a SATA drive in like you can with a PS3. However, both consoles need more open connectivity, especially if both consoles have a grand design on moving into a much larger digital delivery future. Hell, I have a 1TB drive in my computer and that’s barely enough for my Steam games. If the consoles are only going to have 500gb of drive space, and you can’t upgrade it, then people are likely to fill that up quickly.

5. Day and Date Digital Releases


The Playstation Vita and the Nintendo Wii U already do this, but to somewhat lesser extents due to publisher choices. I’d like it if all the new systems made this a mandatory requirement. Basically “If you want to put your game on our system, you need a disk-version and a digital version for release, on the same day.” It would be nice if they mandated that the digital version would be 5$ cheaper, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The PS3 does this somewhat already, but it’s half baked. The 360 royally screws this up. They had an announcement on their service Twitter feed on the 15th extolling that X-Men Origins: Wolverine game was available on Games on Demand for download, for 30$. An almost 4 year old game could be bought for the low low price of 30$! Meanwhile, a used copy of the game at Gamestop is 10$, or a new copy runs you 20$ at Gamestop or on Amazon. It’s just insulting that Microsoft actually lauds the release of that game (and others like it, not specifically picking on it), for over the asking price of an actual physical version. Day and Date releases need to happen, especially with the grand (inexorable, in their view) march to an all-digital future.

4. OPTIONAL Motion Controls


You know what has worked pretty well for the past almost 40 years? A controller. Be it Pong, a NES, or the 360 gamepad, it’s all worked fairly well when it comes to gaming. This generation’s insistence on motion controls (usually spotty at best) has been not a success, but not exactly a failure either. While the Wii was a cultural phenomenon for a few years that feeling went away with lackluster games and a not-fully formed Wiimote. The PS3 Move’s biggest claim to fame was to be what the Wiimote should’ve been, but most people were already done with that type of control scheme. The less said about the Kinect, with it actually selling a decent amount but being a laughing stock to everyone, everywhere, the better. Nintendo has already pinned a lot on the Wii U’s motion controls, and all indications are that so have Sony and Microsoft to other degrees. Motion controls in games are fine, as long as they are optional. Too many people just don’t care about motion controls to get them to work (me included), don’t have room for them (also me), and just generally have a negative opinion on the whole idea. If the new Xbox console is Kinect 2-required, then that is a console I will not be buying.

3. Resurrecting Old Franchises/New Franchises

This is a bit convoluted but here goes: Companies need to resurrect older franchises that people used to like. Look at a company like Square, they have one of the biggest collections of franchises/games in history. Yet what have they done this generation? Dicked around with Final Fantasy 13, making a sequel not many people wanted (FF13-2), made Final Fantasy 14, a whole bunch of stuff for portable systems, Last Remnant, and a few other unremarkable RPG’s. In fact, had it not been for Eidos, Rocksteady, and a few other choice publishing partnerships, I really doubt Square would be standing in 2013. That is wholly depressing, especially since Square has a ton of old games they could make sequels from but don’t do anything with. Kingdom Hearts (an actual console sequel), Parasite Eve (actual console sequel), Vagrant Story, the Chrono franchise, Bushido Blade, Ehergeiz, Final Fantasy Tactics, Einhander, Threads of Fate, not to mention all the other Final Fantasy games the could’ve made a sequel of but chose not to *cough* Final Fantasy 7 *cough*. The lack of care that Sqaure, Capcom (to an extent), Ubisoft, Activision, and many more have shown to their own history is truly baffling. On the same token though, a lot of these companies have rested on their laurels this generation. The new systems need to breed new franchises, not just the same recycled crap. They can’t just make another Modern Warfare or Assassin’s Creed game with new graphics and a few new additions. I don’t think people will stand for it. One or two is fine, but the way some of these franchises are annualized this generation is bordering on the obscene.

2. Used Games


Simple – the PS4/New Xbox need to be able to play used games. Here’s the inherent problem of a system that only plays new games: stores have limited shelf space for them. I’m talking about stores like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc, stores that don’t cater specifically to games. If you go into those stores, you’re lucky to find games that are 6 months older for sale. Outside of mega hits like a Halo, or Uncharted, most stores get rid of excess stock because they won’t be sold. It helps clear out the shelves for the new games that come out. While Gamestop is an evil company, it *is* a necessary evil for a lot of people because it’s the only real way to get older games (new or used) from a store. It even applies to the digital market because used games help (or are at least supposed to) keep a check on digital game prices. Take my Wolverine example from above; 30$ is an asinine price to ask for that game. Ideally, the used market should have some influence on digital prices to keep it competitive. Without used games, there is no practical reason for Sony or Microsoft to lower prices on digital goods. Why would they, the generosity of their heart? Yeah, right. Used games are a needed force within the gaming community and without them the industry won’t be able to survive for long. (Note: Does NOT apply to Steam games/PC gaming in the slightest)

1. Backward Compatibility with Games and Accounts


This is the biggest issue that concerns me about the new consoles. Actually this was the primary issue with the current consoles, hence why I still don’t have a Playstation 3. I only wanted the 60gb model PS3, and once Sony removed the PS2 innards from it, I no longer cared about getting the system. I’ll be the first to admit that it is unlikely either new system will be able to play current game disks in them. While that would be great, it’s also a bit of a pipe dream to imagine either company is doing it. However both companies should keep the current downloadable/arcade games and points/trophies systems in place. My ideal scenario is that when you turn on the new Xbox, you type in your current 360 Gamertag, and it just transfers all your old games (Arcade and Games on Demand) rights to the new console so you can get to downloading. Same thing for the PS4, you sign in with your PSN ID and your PS3 (and older) games, as well as Vita games are there waiting for you. Same thing with the Achievements/Trophies system, you’ll start fresh on the new consoles but have a legacy status with regard to the older system. A lot of people have spent hundreds of dollars on downloadable games over the years and probably thousands of hours accruing Trophies/Achievements. If the new consoles come and all of the current online systems become worthless, then that is a huge mistake that they would be making.

The Better Half

No “The Better Half” this week either. Liana’s been sick the past few days which is completely fine. Last week her mother had surgery last week hence why she was absent then. It was her birthday last Friday though, so everyone wish her a Happy Birthday and see her new video below:

Complainer’s Corner

I don’t have a huge list of what other people might suggest. The obvious one is the new Xbox console needs a Blu-ray drive, but that’s about it. The other things I came up with are; better dashboards/UI’s, less heinous DLC, full 1080P mandatory games, more emulation of older systems, no region locked games, and no locked save systems.

The General Roundup

The weirdest few comments last week were about people defending Donkey Kong Country 2. While Dixie had much better moves than Donkey Kong, that was it. There were way too many collectibles in the game, with at least three different types of currency to keep track of. Also, I wasn’t a fan of some of the graphical changes they made to give it a cartoonier look. Heh, I also like when someone said the list had too much Mario, when I only had 2 Mario games on it. Also, for as good as SMB 3 is, I still give the edge out to Mario World, just in terms of having a huge world to really explore and finding weird stuff to do (the Special World, in particular).

What do you want the 8 Ball to be about next week?

Top 8 PC Ports
Top 8 Franchises That Need to Die
Top Unconventional Racers


article topics

Marc Morrison
comments powered by Disqus