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Xbox 720 Leak Details Always-Online and HD Installs

The Xbox 720, codenamed “Durango”, will most likely be announced in June at E3 2013, hot on the tails of Sony announcing their new Playstation 4. Microsoft has yet to reveal any official details, but a leaked internal document details the new Xbox system might require a constant internet connection and hard drive installs, further pushing speculation that the console will deny used game play and other draconian anti-piracy measures.

If the new Xbox 720 requires a constant internet connection and HD installs and all this other bullshit, here’s several things they could do to win even me over:

1. Used Game Support/Backwards Compatibility

“I want to be inside you.”

On used game play, as a predominately PC gamer I can’t really complain too much about this. You can’t sell Steam or Origin games used (not yet), and most used PC games often lack a CD key in the box to even install them. Yet the console space is different. It’s a closed hardware system that requires a physical copy of the disc, and denying gamers the right to play as they choose is a worthless decision. All you’re doing is limiting the number of people who will play your system. Also, since all previous consoles of every stripe have accepted any cartridge or disc capable of playing on their system, regardless of ownership, gamers have 30 years of expectations of what consoles should and shouldn’t do.

Backwards compatibility, especially with a disc-based system, should be mandatory at least one generation back. Xbox 360 games are freakin’ DVD’s. You tell me a multi-billion dollar corporation dedicated to software development can’t find a way to let me play a DVD-based game?

2. Cross Platform Support

MASS HYSTERIA!

Microsoft has never been able to adequately explain to me why the PC and XBOX 360 players couldn’t game together either competitively or even cooperatively. Especially since Microsoft was the goddamn developer of the console and the most popular format for PC games. Even though Microsoft won’t really detail why officially, Rahul Sood, General Manager of the Microsoft Global Startups, wrote a detailed explanation in 2010: console controller gamers were getting owned by their PC counterparts with keyboards and mice. Apparently, test result were so embarrassing that Microsoft actually killed the project.

*Chuckle* Wow. I was not expecting THAT answer. Well, you big babies, isn’t that the nature of online gaming, that there’s always the possibility that someone will be better than you? THOSE MEAN NASTY PC GAMERS GOTZ ALL MY KILLZ!!1!!! HAXXX!!!

The gap between the console and the PC is closing rapidly. It’s time for Microsoft to step up and allow us to game on together. Cross platform support is possible and maybe even necessary at this point with cloud gaming and a decentralized approach to computing becoming the norm. The PS4’s hardware breakdown is just a really powerful gaming PC with console software architecture. With HALO 3 looking more like a possibility for PC gamers, it’d just be nice to be able to share in these fun experiences together.

3. Free Xbox Live

xbox 720
You actually have to pay in dwarven gold.

Listen, if you’re going to create a system that demands to be online all the time, I want a little something for this hassle. The term “always online” could mean a lot of things, like Nintendo’s WiiConnect24, which just allows the system to be connected while in standby mode. But if it’s the Dark Side, it means always needing to be online to play singleplayer games. It means DRM.

If that’s the case, fuck Microsoft in their e-butt. Because that’s worked out so well for Maxis and Blizzard. Imagine the ungodly nightmare of the first week of an Xbox 720 release and everyone wants to play CoD at the same time. I’ve always felt Xbox Live should have always been free from the beginning, like Steam and Origin and PSN and whatever the hell Nintendo does, and needing Xbox Live Gold to access a service I already pay to subscribe to, like Netflix, from a company who makes a web browser is flatout stupid.

4. Tough Online Moderation

Gaze upon the man who defiled your mother!

Normally, I scoff at obnoxious moderation rules, but Xbox Live is a toilet. Get tough on these racist, misogynist assholes. Zero tolerance. I’m not talking about hackers, I’m talking about childish assholes who feel the need to fart from the mouth in a game and ruin it for everyone. Since Xbox Live is a paid service, banning someone from playing online is a serious matter, but Xbox Live needs to clean up its act when it comes to its own players.

Perhaps this is less of something Microsoft should do, and something more that we should be doing as fellow gamers. The Reputation system is a tad clunky, inconsistent and game hosting is often dependent on the developer, so it’s mostly on us to temper how we act online. Yet control of a game session needs to be placed in the hands of the people playing the game, so institute a universal votekick system, that bans the Gamertag from rejoining that session, would be welcome.

5. Make XBLA More Developer Friendly

XBLA contract negotiations.

Indie game development is at an all-time high, and XBLA helped a lot of these developers hit their stride. I’m honestly impressed at how many versatile and fun games make their debut on XBLA and end up being huge, disgusting hits, such as CASTLE CRASHERS, FEZ, SUPER MEAT BOY, BRAID, and HOTLINE MIAMI. Yet underneath all this goodwill is a slurry-like ooze of negative information about dealings with XBLA from a business standpoint. Without violating their NDA’s, several developers have hinted at shady backroom dealings, broken promises, as well as exorbitant fees to patch games.

If Xbox 720 wants to seriously compete with its PC-friendly PS4 competitor, they need to break down a lot of the artificial barriers separating studios from the marketplace. Simple things like allowing developers to set their own prices, sales, and achievements. Make SDK’s easier to developer for.

Also, for players, no more fake currency. Tell me what the cost of the game is in actual money. Microsoft Points are just another layer of obnoxious complexity that complicate what should be a one-button purchase process.

 6. Stop Betting on Kinect

It’s a silly gimmick. Knock it off. No one cares.

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The Author

Carl Wilhoyte

Carl Wilhoyte

Carl Wilhoyte is the Video Games Editor of ScreenInvasion.com: a class warrior poet who writes about all things video games. He's sure everything is not under control and is not going to be okay. For a good time, follow his angry rants and smart thoughts on Twitter: @carlwilhoyte.