It’s been almost 3 years since the launch of the Xbox One. From the misguided, media focused reveal, to the games focused 180 by Phil Spencer, we have see the Xbox adapt to the fanbase. With the launch of the Dashboard Preview and direct user feedback, Microsoft has shown a huge value in how the community feels and what they want to see on the Xbox platform. With the Windows 10 now released and the promise of future Xbox functionality, I have compiled a list of 5 things that I really want to see Microsoft nail as Windows 10 continues to help the Xbox evolve.
1 – Stream PC Games to the Xbox One
With Windows 10, you are able to stream your Xbox One to your PC or Laptop via a wired or wireless home network. The function in the preview build, while having some minor bugs, is a really great experience. Which then begs the question, why doesn’t it work the other way? Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, recently said that he would like to see this functionality but that it would need mouse and keyboard support first which “aren’t far away.”
What makes this a huge win for Microsoft would be the ability to limit Playstation First games. Let’s take the game No Man Sky for example, the game is set for console release on the PS4 as well as the PC; therefore, Xbox users are forced to either (1) wait until the game comes to Xbox, (2) buy a PS4, or (3) play on a PC, which most users may not prefer. By allowing Xbox users to stream PC games, Xbox would give users access to the game on day one through PC sales. This is a win-win for Microsoft as they can take more of the market through PC sales and offers a solution that eliminates their competitor’s advantage.
2 – Stream Games to Mobile Devices
Nintendo basically created handheld gaming as we know it with the release of the GameBoy in 1989. Sony, some time later, introduced the PSP and are still “somewhat” supporting the PSP’s successor, the PS Vita. But Microsoft has never really dipped into the handheld market. But, with Windows 10, they are talking up the ability to stream your Xbox Games to your Win10 Tablets and Laptops. Right now it’s only through a local network, but you have to imagine they are working on a remote application similar to the PS Vita. So, it only makes since, that Microsoft get behind the mobile platform and enable game streaming to your mobile devices. At first glance this sounds like a horrible idea and somewhat of a pipe dream…but let’s unpack it a little.
Right now, through the “SmartGlass” app (on iOS, Android, and WinPhone), you can power on your Xbox One, arrange your pins and download games, and, with the recent update, you can actually stream your TV content from your console to your device. It doesn’t sound so much like a left field idea anymore now, does it? If you can already stream TV from your Xbox One to your mobile device, I can’t imagine that it’s impossible to get a full game streaming and you have to believe that Microsoft is working diligently on that. Sure, it won’t be the ideal way to enjoy Next-Gen, photo real games, but if I can play something like #IDARB on my iPad, from a hotel room thousands of miles away from my home, sign me up! Just imagine, with one major update you could unlock the Xbox One library (which now includes the Xbox 360 library) to a billion people.
3 – Upgraded User Interface
I am not here to trash on the Xbox One, but it’s common knowledge that the original UI leaves a lot to be desired. It was, after all, created to be used with Kinect. The team has made some great changes along the way, but to be honest they feel like bandaids to the actual problem. The actual problem is that navigating the UI, with your voice or controller, is slow and cumbersome. We know that a new UI is coming. Phil and the Xbox Team have even shown a demo of the new UI at E3, but little is known about the actual changes being made.
There are a few things that I really want to see. First, I really want to get the home guide experience back. Give me back the ability to just press the guide button and get a smaller menu to choose things from just like it was on the Xbox 360…if it ain’t broke and all that. Second, I want background music again. On the Xbox 360, you could load up any music stored on your local network and play it in the background. And that was so cool, the music would play in the menu and then you could load up a game and the music would still be playing and then you’d hit a cut scene and the music would pause and let you hear what was going on the in the game and then unpause when you were back in action. We need this function back. Finally, I want everything to talk to twitter (and FB if that’s your thing). Right now there is limited twitter functionality. The Xbox One added this really cool Activity feed that most people don’t know exists. But it basically an Xbox twitter feed that keeps a running stream of achievements you’ve unlocked and Videos you’ve recorded and Screenshots you’ve taken and stuff like that. I would like to see that expanded on, but then I want the option to send that exact content to twitter. I want to simply be able to highlight a post, and with the press of a button, choose to share it directly to my twitter feed. These are just a handful of small things, but it’s clear to anyone that the UI needs an upgrade and it needed it yesterday.
4 – Better Game DVR Function
Recently I have started become a very casual streamer. I am not looking to record hours long marathons, but right now, the console limits you to 5 minutes at a time. I am aware there are external solutions for this problem, but that’s not the point. The console itself lists Game DVR function as a feature of the hardware, and to be governed to 5 minutes is almost a joke. When I play Disney Infinity 2.0, for example, my load times are close to 2 minutes alone, that’s almost half of my allowed stream time. What I currently have to do is record for 5 minutes. Stop and start again and then repeat as long as I try to record. Then, using Upload Studio, piece together the clips I want to make any decent sized video. That works, but it’s very time consuming and tedious. If you are going to promote Game DVR as a function, it needs to be improved.
The good news is, with the Win10 update, you can now record up to 1 hour with Game DVR on your PC. So that leads you to assume this is something they are working on for the console and hopefully something that we will see in an update very soon. Outside of the time restrictions, there are other small improvements that would go a long way. One example is to show the gamertag of the person playing in multiplayer games. It would be nice if the Xbox One would recognize who was playing where and go ahead and label it for you. Let me stress, what they have is really cool and welcome, but the more I use it the more I see that it’s lacking. We needs a serious update for it to be a more preferred method of Game Recording.
5 – A Premium Tier LIVE Service
This has been something rumored off and on for years. Dating back to 2011 and the Microsoft Diamond Card. Those who are unaware, the Diamond Card just turned out to be something of a discount card of various products and services. It had little to nothing to do with the LIVE service. However, leading into E3 that year, all the talk was around a second tier for Xbox LIVE, which, in retrospect, would have been ahead of the curve.
Currently we pay $60 (USD) for a year’s subscription to Xbox Live. That basically affords us Free games as part of Games with Gold (2 Xbox One and 2 Xbox 360), Game Discounts, and the ability to play multiplayer online. I actually think the market is ready for the next step of Xbox LIVE. In a world full of Spotify and Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, Microsoft has the ability with Win10 and Xbox to take it to the next level. They are rebranding their Xbox Music service to Microsoft “Groove” and working on updates to their video service as well. I’d like to see a $99.99/year, Xbox LIVE Platinum service that adds an Xbox Video service, similar to Netflix and a music subscription similar to Spotify/Apple Music. And, since Xbox is primarily a game platform, we should see at least 1 additional Xbox One and Xbox 360 game free each month. Also, exclusive access to early betas. Right now I consume most of my media through my Xbox. I stream Netflix/Hulu, I listen to Pandora, and I play games. If Xbox could create an all-in-one solution, I would sign up day one.
So, there you have it. There is great potential in the Win10 Xbox One marriage and in the end, gamers are going to be better for it. Maybe a few of the things on my list might actually see the light of day, guess we will have to wait and see. Let us know if you agree/disagree or what you’d like to see yourself in the comments below.