Microsoft 2013 Predictions: Xbox 720, Killer Instinct, Alan Wake 2, New Controller, Call of Duty Future Warfare
2013 will behold a new Xbox, possible returns of big franchises, and the evolution of the Xbox controller.
The Xbox 360 made a statement this generation. With the original Xbox only surpassing 24 million units worldwide, Microsoft found themselves selling a few million consoles more than Nintendo, but obviously came nowhere close to Sony’s Playstation 2. With the Xbox 360, however, Microsoft made a statement, and proved that they are here to stay in the gaming universe. 2013 is going to be a big year for Microsoft; with the rumors of a new console, new Kinect, and new games from Microsoft 1st parties, 2013 could prove to be the most important year for Microsoft since the launch of the Xbox 360.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Even with all of the rumors, such as poor chip quality for the next Xbox, there is no doubt in my mind that Microsoft will be releasing a new console in 2013. There is a ton of evidence supporting this theory, besides the supposed leaks of Microsoft documentation. Microsoft has been very quiet about what the second half of 2013 will look like for the Xbox brand. I believe this is simply because there is a new console slated for release, and they don’t want to talk about the console before the holidays.
The “Xbox 3″, “Next Box”, “Durango”, “Xbox 720″, or whatever you want to call it, will most likely be unveiled relatively soon. My guess is sometime in February or March Microsoft will hold a private event presenting new things coming to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, as well as unveiling their new console. Personally, I believe the rumor of the next Xbox being simply called “Xbox” to be true. By announcing their next console relatively early, Microsoft will be given enough time to prep the holiday lineup and do a full unveil of the software at E3 2013.
E3 2013 is going to be huge for Microsoft. There has been an increase in criticisms late in this console generation, from Xbox fans, mainly due to the fact that it feels as though Microsoft is turning the Xbox into more of a media platform, instead of a game console. There hasn’t been a lot of new franchises or content coming from Microsoft themselves and this is something that has to change for the Xbox 720.
Microsoft has a lot of talented studios and big name intellectual properties(IPs) in their arsenal, but for some reason we have barely seen anything besides Halo and Gears of War. While those franchises are great, Microsoft needs to broaden their horizons.
Alan Wake seems to make a lot of sense for a launch title for Microsoft’s new console. We saw Alan Wake on the 360 twice, and while the original Alan Wake didn’t sell very well, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare did quite well. Alan Wake 2 would be a great franchise to revisit. While that alone may not sell the Xbox, it would definitely help.
Another franchise that seems to pop up every now and then, but has yet to make its way to the Xbox 360, is Killer Instinct. There have been rumors of an updated XBox Live Arcade(XBLA) version of the original Killer Instinct for the SNES, but similar to the issues that Goldeneye faced, the title never actually surfaced. I believe that Rare has been working on a new Killer Instinct for quite some time, but it was pushed to the new Xbox and will be available as a launch title. However, due to legal restrictions, the game wouldn’t be called Killer Instinct, but if Microsoft markets the game correctly, consumers will know it’s a sequel.
Speaking of Rare; there is another franchise that seems to have disappeared as well, but it would make total sense for Microsoft to revisit it. Banjo-Kazooie had one sole title on the Xbox 360, but it wasn’t really a true sequel. Banjo Kazooie 3 is not only something gamers want, but what Microsoft badly needs. If Microsoft wants to broaden their horizons they will need to bring other types of franchises to their first party lineup, not just games from the shooting genre.
Call of Duty will obviously be a huge selling point for holiday 2013 and I have the feeling there are two new titles in development; similar to what happened with Call if Duty 2. An area that the Call of Duty franchise has only recently touched on is the “future” aspect. Black Ops 2 lead players into the near future, but I have a feeling Call of Duty will inevitably venture into the distant future. I guess we could call it, Call of Duty: Future Warfare.
Now that the games discussion is out of the way, let’s get down to the natty gritty regarding console details. The Xbox 720 will no doubt run on Windows 8; Microsoft has already combined the “core” for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, and I don’t see any reason why the Xbox will be any different. The benefit of this shared core is mostly going to be for the mobile crowd, but I think it would be cool to maybe play some XBLA games on my phone that are cross compatible with the console.
One rumor that kept popping up over the past year, is that the Xbox 720 will not have a disc drive. I addressed this when the rumor arose, and I still stick by my opinion, there is no way the new Xbox will ship without a disc drive. Things like Blu-Ray playback, and backwards compatibility would be missing, and those two reasons alone are enough to shoot these rumors down. I believe that the rumored “Xbox without a drive” is simply a set top box that will run the same Dashboard as the Xbox 360, but will only be capable of watching movies from different services, and maybe play some XBLA games as well.
The dashboard probably won’t look much different than what we are seeing now on the Xbox 360, but Microsoft needs to do some housekeeping by the time the Xbox 720 arrives. Microsoft has been shoving the Metro/Modern UI down consumers throat since its inception, and it currently isn’t going anywhere. The problem is that the current dashboard is insanely crowded and the amount of ads is preposterous; Microsoft needs to clean up the dashboard, and create a more streamlined experience.
The ads discussion is something that has been circulating the internet for awhile, and I, like many others, am confused as to why there are so many ads for a service that the majority of gamers pay for. This, in combination with the competition who offers free online play, leads me to believe that a new tier of Xbox Live subscription will be making its way to the Xbox 720. “Xbox Live Platinum” will probably take the place of Xbox Live Gold and will offer players premium app access to services like Hulu Plus, HBO, and Xbox Music Pass. The benefits of Platinum will undoubtedly take cues from Playstation Plus, and offer players who have Platinum free and discounted games, as well as offering to remove ads upon request. Xbox Live Gold will most likely get a price drop to something like $20 a year, but the benefits will likely stay the same. Microsoft really shouldn’t charge anyone to play online, but I don’t see free online coming to Microsoft anytime soon.
The controller is one area where I remain puzzled. There have been rumored leaks of an Xbox controller with a built in touch screen surfacing, but it is difficult to say whether or not Microsoft would try Nintendo’s way of controller design. Microsoft introduced Smart Glass which works with a majority of smart phones and tablets, but having to put down your controller to properly use it for games kind of defeats the purpose. Integrating a touch screen into the controller would make a lot of sense, but then the price of the controller would increase.
This is what I would want to see Microsoft do in terms of a controller. I personally think the 360 controller, with the transforming D-Pad, is perfect. The D-Pad of the original controller is utter garbage, but the transforming D-Pad is just right. If Microsoft wants to make a controller with integrated Smart Glass, I am all for it, but give gamers a choice to purchase a new controller with a touch screen.
Kinect is another area, which Microsoft has been pretty quiet on, but the rumors have been circulating that a new Kinect is on its way. There is no doubt in my mind that a Kinect 2 is coming, but I believe there is no chance that it will launch with the Xbox 720. The original Kinect was launched to lengthen the life of the Xbox 360, and I believe that will be the same mentality for the Xbox 720. Since Kinect doesn’t have its own internal processor, I believe that the original Kinect will get a nice boost in “power” on the Xbox 720.
Microsoft has been very strong this generation, but near the end, they seemed to have lost their way. Microsoft needs to find a good balance between games and media in 2013, and I believe the Xbox 720 will be the start of a new Microsoft.