Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How the next generation should shape up.

Nintendo has shown part of their hand. You could definitely argue that it's probably the most important part of their hand, but it's definitely not all of it. We now know what the new controller gimmick is going to be for the WiiU and we know that it's graphical power will be comparable to the PS3 and the Xbox 360. So how are Sony and Microsoft going to respond? This post will be an analysis of how I think they should respond and how I think the next generation should shape up.

We know nothing about what, if any, improvements will be made to the WiiU's online functionality. The Wii has the worst online functionality of the three systems and the Xbox 360 is far and ahead in the lead. I firmly believe that both Sony and Nintendo need to make the social aspects of their systems more robust and more prominent. Every console's online system needs bio's, status updates, now playing status, and a more robust messaging system.

One of the limiting factors for Sony is the XMB. The XMB interface is minimalistic, too minimalistic. The design doesn't lend itself to the amount of information that needs to be displayed for the social aspects of the console's online functionality.

Nintendo's online functionality just needs more. And no more friend codes. I want to be able add someone by their username and be given a list of people that I have recently played list so that they're easy to find and add to my friends list.

Every controller for current generation systems needs to work for next generation systems. Nintendo has already confirmed that Wii Remotes will work with the WiiU. The PS3 and XBox 360 standard controllers need to work with their respective followup systems and the Kinect and Move also need to work with the followup systems. The standard gaming controller has reached it's pinnacle, it's not getting better. The motion controllers need to carry over to the next systems because they have yet to be fully utilized.

The next generation from Sony and Microsoft could once again be the humongous leap in visuals that the current generation was over the last, but I don't think that it should be. I think it would be great if the next generation was a more conservative step forward. This will help keep the price of the console's lower and it will help keep the price of game development lower. It will also let the consoles be smaller.

I think that it would be perfectly possible for Sony and Microsoft's next series of consoles to be enough of a step forward that they distinguish themselves graphically from the WiiU, but close enough that making a three-platform game isn't so hard that is makes the WiiU version not worth the cost of development.

I started to mention this in the last section, but the next series of consoles needs to be cheaper. The XBox 360 was somewhat expensive and the PS3 was far too expensive. You can tell that Sony learned their lesson with the PS3 from their Vita price announcement. There's a reason that the PS2 and the Wii were such successes and the software was only part of it.