Xbox Series X Wishlist: What I Want From Microsoft’s Next-Gen Console



While PlayStation seems to be doubling down on blockbuster single-player games and VR titles in the next console generation, Xbox is going for a rather different tactic. Xbox seems poised to corner the subscription service side of the games industry between Xbox Game Pass, Games With Gold, and xCloud (all of which is wrapped up in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate). It’s an intriguing strategy, largely because it’s so different from what PlayStation is doing.

Sony wants you to buy the PlayStation 5 to play its exclusive first-party titles on the PS5, but Microsoft wants you to invest in its subscription services, with the Xbox Series X aimed at the hardcore crowd that care about doing so with cutting-edge tech. With that being the case, this wishlist will be aimed at both what I want out of Xbox’s subscription services as well as the Series X console. Editor Phil Hornshaw has put together his wishlist for PlayStation 5, if you want to read up on what we want from Sony’s next-gen console.

Deeper Consideration For Promoting [email protected] Games

I’ve already written about how I hope the Xbox Series X sees the return of a service like Xbox Live Arcade, an online service for the Xbox 360 that curated the system’s indie game library. With the release of the Xbox One, indie games were rotated into the same library as AAA titles and the weekly promotions for cool-looking new indie games stopped.

Microsoft has continued to advertise indie games with its [email protected] program, which sees some incredibly awesome indie games (some of which have novel mechanics, features, or storylines) launch on Xbox One as limited-time console exclusives. Some of these games are even available day one on Xbox Game Pass, like Ashen, Creature in the Well, and Outer Wilds.

I like all of this, but I hope Xbox goes a step further next generation and implements more prominent promotions for the niche but intriguingly novel games that are a part of [email protected] There were some truly incredible game demos featured in the Summer 2020 [email protected] Showcase, but not all of them are an easy sell. For example, my favorite demo was for The Vale, a fantasy action game where you play as someone who’s blind, so all of its gameplay is a mostly black screen. You can’t advertise a game like that with traditional means like trailers, but it deserves to be played. And if Xbox is going to continue securing unique games like The Vale, then considerations need to be made for how the Xbox Series X marketplace promotes them.

More Avenues To Try New Games

One of the big reasons why I want a service like Xbox Live Arcade to be available on Xbox Series X is that I miss the free demos that the 360 service offered. I’d love for Series X to offer more avenues for players to try games for free before committing to a purchase.

It doesn’t have to be a free demo either. I love the idea of Halo Infinite having a free to play multiplayer, offering players a way to check out the upcoming game and see whether they like it before committing to buying the campaign or paying for Xbox Game Pass and getting the game that way.

Label (Almost) Everything

Xbox One does this cool thing where every game that’s available on Xbox Game Pass or via Games With Gold has a big ol’ “GAME PASS” or “GOLD” label prominently smacked onto it. It makes it really easy to see whether a new game is available to me “for free” before actually clicking on it.

I want more labels. I want to know what titles support cross-play or cross progression at a glance, for instance. Having the option to choose what labels show up would be cool too, like I’d love to see which multiplayer games in my library specifically support couch co-op.

Fix The My Games & Apps Button, So Help Me God

You see, once upon a time, when you clicked the Xbox One Home button and scrolled down to My Games & Apps, it would take you to all your downloaded games and apps. That was eventually changed, however, so that now when you click My Games & Apps, it takes you to a sidebar where you can access the lists you’ve made of the games and apps you own. It’s here you can click “See All” to take you to the page of all your downloaded games and apps. That’s an extra button press that I don’t like being forced to do.

“But Jordan,” I hear you say, “Xbox made this change to the My Games & Apps button years ago. You’ve had time to get used to it like everyone else.” To which I’d reply, yes, I know it’s been years. I’ve been angry about this for years.

“But Jordan,” I hear you say again, and with this, I do have to cut you off. I’m putting my foot down. The rest of the Xbox UI can remain exactly the same for all I care. I have no real issue with anything else. But I’m sure that if I added up all the two seconds I’ve wasted needing to press one extra button to see My Games & Apps, it would be an ungodly amount of time that would just piss me off.

Accessible Packaging

Microsoft has worked to make gaming more accessible for everyone by releasing the Xbox Adaptive Controller and asking all developers that are making games for Xbox to follow the 23 chapters of Xbox Accessibility Guidelines. But I think the company should go a step further and create accessible packaging for the Xbox Series X, so that consumers with physical limitations can open the box and access the console without needing to ask for assistance. Xbox already does this with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which comes in packaging that’s designed to be accessible to people with limited mobility.

Better Screenshot/Game Clip Sharing

It’s easy enough to capture a screenshot or gameplay clip with Xbox One, but sharing it is a different story. Presumably, the new Share button on the Series X controller is going to be like the same button on the PS4 DualShock 4. But just in case it isn’t, here’s me just putting it out there: Xbox, follow PlayStation’s lead in this regard. Make it simple to capture a screenshot or game clip and immediately post it to Twitter or Facebook or whatever without scrolling through several menus.

Cheaper All-Digital Version Right From The Get-Go

Look, if PlayStation 5 is doing it, Xbox Series X should too. I may not be ready to make the transition to all-digital, but I have a few friends who have made the switch and I know they’d love to save a few bucks to ditch their disc drive entirely going into the next console generation.

Bring Back QR Codes For Downloads

Yeah, I didn’t really like the Kinect either, but the device had its uses, like giving me the option to yell at my Xbox that yes, I was still using the Netflix app to binge watch Criminal Minds. But my favorite part of the Kinect was that it could read QR codes.

Because of this, all Xbox One codes for games and DLC and pre-order bonuses came on these physical cards with a QR code. You could type in all the numbers and letters or just hold up the card to your Kinect and the camera would read the QR code and start downloading the content instantly. It was glorious. This stopped happening when the Kinect was removed as a mandatory attachment for Xbox One. I don’t want the Kinect to come back, but adding a QR reader to the Xbox app would be a wonderful way for me to use my phone to quickly input codes instead of typing them out.

Be As Cool And Quiet As The Other Side Of The Pillow

I didn’t believe the internal console fan horror stories until I bought a PS4 Pro in 2018–and yeah, that console does sometimes sound like an airplane taking off when it’s running a demanding game. Thankfully, the Xbox One X doesn’t have that problem, but I’m still worried about the Series X. Microsoft has been hyping the machine up as a powerful beast of a machine, but that probably means its internal temperature gets pretty damn hot. What if the fan to cool the system down is or eventually gets loud?

I hope the Series X manages to keep its cool and remain as quiet as its older brother. Given its size and design, I assume it is, but we won’t know for sure until we get our hands on it and put the machine through its paces. I already don’t like wearing headphones all the time just to play PS4, so I’d hate to have to do that for Xbox Series X. Sometimes you just want your ears to fly free, ya know?

A System Seller

Like I said at the outset, I know Microsoft probably isn’t as concerned about whether you buy its next-gen console as opposed to getting you into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. But I still remember the glory days of unique Xbox console exclusives, like Sunset Overdrive and Titanfall.

Xbox Series X doesn’t have any of those at launch (seeing as Halo Infinite has been delayed to 2021), at least that we know of. I want Series X to launch with one or two truly cool-looking, novel games. Just a system seller to point at for the type of experiences you’ll be able to find on Series X that showcase the power of the system and Xbox’s commitment to promoting unique voices going into the next console generation. If a game like Cris Tales wasn’t already launching on Xbox One, PS4, Google Stadia, and PC, I’d consider that to be one of the better options Microsoft could secure a deal with (and maybe it still can be if the next-gen version of the game releases for Series X first).

With most of the Xbox Game Studios working on first-party titles that all seem to be a ways out, securing a deal with an independent studio might be the best way to go. I’d love to see one of the games that are loosely scheduled for 2020, like ScourgeBringer, Hollow Knight: Silksong, Gestalt: Steam & Cinder, or Anew: The Distant Light, come out immediately for next-gen on Series X.

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