So, a couple months back - at about 3am - I was sleep deprived, delirious and wrote down this goofy open letter to Microsoft's next game console. And there it sat in a draft folder until this morning. I've been ignoring rumors because Microsoft is gonna level the news tomorrow, but what the heck, right? So, for the sake of sharing....and a bit of wishful thinking I had a couple months ago....
Dear Next Xbox / Durango / Whatever you want to call yourself,
Before you ask…Yes, I’m letter-writing to an inanimate object that plays videogames. Don’t Judge me. I’m not saying this as an HP blogger (though I am). Or as the guy that used to work at Games for Windows: The Official Magazine (but I was). This is me, as a lifelong gamer, that sees tons of potential hinted at for almost a decade. Now is the time, Xbox – I need you to work in total harmony with my Windows 8 PCs. You owe me.
Do you remember Live Anywhere? I do. Back in 2006, I remember Bill Gates getting on stage at E3 touting the ability to play your games, anywhere. More specifically, multiple Windows into the same game world. Play a racing game on the Xbox, create a custom model or paint job for that race car on your PC, then adjust parts and tweak performance on your phone. That’s been a dream of mine – different devices linking into the same gaming experience. How’s about we see some more of that in practice with Windows 8 and the next Xbox?
I also remember Bill discussing the ability to pay for a game once and you just own it across platforms. No need to buy. And rebuy. And buy again. Right now, it’s in effect across Windows 8 and it’s great. Provided the PC has the right hardware capabilities, I can download and play any game and it works (like Steam has done so well). I have Zen Studios’ Pinball FX2 on my ENVY x2. When I get home, it looks even more awesome on my dedicated graphics card-powered ENVY Phoenix h9 desktop. You know what I think shows a lot of promise? Games like Skulls of the Shogun which looks great on everything from the Xbox 360 to Windows Phone to tablets and desktops. If I can own that game once, play it on every platform and have the saved games follow me wherever I may roam, I’d be in game-nerdvana. Like, Say, Galactic Reign that lets me play against buddies from their Windows Phones while I’m on a PC.
You’re already dipping your foot in the cross-platforming waters. Sure it’s mostly for second-screening video and music services…still, I love what you are doing with SmartGlass on the Xbox 360, working with PCs and Smartphones. Do more of that. Please. You need to be a champion of second-screening and show that you can do awesome things with your Windows brothers (and sisters…whatever, you get the point).
And while I’m asking, how’s about you continue tying Windows and Xbox closer together? You’ve got a Metro interface on your game console and services called “Xbox Video,” “Xbox Music” and….wait for iiiiiiit…”Xbox Games” on my PC – Half the job is already there. Both devices are now tied to the same account. Free idea: A customized start screen that pulls stuff from my Windows 8 start page or lets me hand-pick the important tiles I see at start-up.
Y’know, like on Windows 8 and Windows phones….
OK, one last thing for you to think about: Recently, Sony unveiled its PS4. It also happens to have the config of a PC. Let’s see….you’re a console owned by Microsoft. They also are the creators of Windows. Crazy idea time -- let your Windows flag fly.
It’s not like I can’t plug an Xbox 360 gamepad into a PC and play….well….most modern games as if I’m using a console. In fact, I can get PS3 / Xbox 360 graphics out of a reasonably-price laptop at this point. As I write this, I’m playing Crysis 3 and XCOM: ENEMY UNKNOWN on an Ultrabook with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. (Granted, running the game at 720p-caliber resolution…but you get the idea.) When AMD and Intel ship their next processors in 2013, you’ll be able to get 1080p-caliber graphics out of integrated chips! You wanna include a camera and do some super-snazzy next-gen Kinect stuff? Awesome. I’ve got a Webcam on my laptop that’s up to the task.
Point is, Does anyone honestly believe that we live in “one-platform-only world” Anymore? I don’t.
When the Games for Windows Live initiative went…well, live, I was fully in. A believer. I saw a lot of potential then. And now? There are so many inventive, new ways to bring the console and PC (and tablets….and phones) together. All you need to do is look in an app store and see the new social services, augmented reality apps and so on springing up. The people are ready to see it smartly tied into their games. I know I am.