microsoft-ces-boothLast week Sony brought us the awesome news that the next generation will start this holiday. Now with the Wii U already out, and the PS4 being talked about by gamers everywhere, all that is left is for Microsoft to reveal its latest console. The current generation has seen Microsoft get off to a year’s head start and become the top-selling console. But the tables have turned this time around, and the ball is now in Microsoft’s court.

First, let’s point one thing out: Microsoft must embrace Blu-ray. They made the mistake this generation by going with the HD-DVD, and it is time to move past the standard DVD format. A research group called In-Stat predicts that there will be 105 million Blu-ray units in homes worldwide by 2015 and states that 15 percent of Netflix users are using Blu-ray discs. Tat number will only go up as years go by. Personally, I am sick of playing games that come with 2 and even 3 discs. Microsoft could immediately lose the next generation if they were not to incorporate the Blu-ray format.

Microsoft also needs a new franchise. They entered this generation with the closing of the first Halo trilogy and Gears of War. Neither were launch titles, but fans don’t need the next big franchise right away. Sure, it would be great, but show a game that can carry the next Xbox for 6 to 8 years. It’s great that the already amazing-looking Halo games will carry on to the next system, but gamers want and deserve more. Microsoft needs that one title that will make gamers jump for joy and help convince them to be with Microsoft for the next generation.

Its new console also has to be more social. With each year Microsoft adds new features, changing the dashboard, adding third party companies like ESPN, HBO, and Hulu. The Xbox has become much more than just a way to play games, but it has not reached the peak yet. One big addition needs to be in social media. Sony showed that the new PS4 controller will have a share button right on it; Microsoft needs to respond to this with something of their own. Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the social media formats. We’ve seen games add in social network options like share your stats on Facebook, or how Treyarch has added the movie editing tool that allows you to upload videos to Youtube. How cool would it be to record videos, edit them on the dashboard, and then upload them.

xbox 360There are also a few small things Microsoft can do to achieve the number 1 spot. One is keep that exclusive content coming! Call Of Duty map packs hit Xbox first and Skyrim release DLC months before the competition, for example. Having that small advantage can make a big difference. Kinect will also play a big part in Microsoft’s next console, so why not improve it? Kinect needs to have an HD camera and be a better product altogether. Nothing really enticed me into getting a Kinect, and that needs to change in the next generation. Why not bundle it with the console? Also, why not have digital releases hit the same day as retail? Discounts can be implemented for these digital games, and by doing that it could cut down on the amount of used games purchases.

Finally, the next Xbox needs to be, well, an Xbox. Just one though! Microsoft made several versions of the 360 to give consumers options and ways to save money. Now Microsoft needs to consider what will make gamers happy in the end– perhaps a console capable of nearly anything. Give us a big hard drive, and don’t worry about Bluetooth either. Even though it seems Microsoft was holding back, depriving us of some non-crucial features, with its Xbox 360, it now needs to pull out all the stops. Microsoft needs to be bolder and challenge its new console, otherwise Sony will (and it has.) If either console fails or comes up short, it is very possibly that Apple or even Valve could step in and revolutionize the gaming industry. Its not like those companies are strangers to sparking innovation.

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