What I want to see on the upcoming Xbox 720

The next Xbox console is rumoured to be launched sometime April or May this year, and will probably hit the shelves before the holidays. Dubbed the “720,” this new Xbox promises twice the fun and excitement for gamers, even though there’s no word yet from Microsoft that confirms or denies these rumors. Its closest rival has already unveiled the PlayStation 4 (if showing the controller counts as one) last February, so we can assume that the Xbox 720 is right around the corner, just waiting for the right moment and building the right amount of hype. For now, we can only speculate what’s cooking in their oven, and wonder if we’ll see anything that would really change the way we see Xbox gaming.

Here are some of the things that we’re longing to see on the upcoming Xbox 720:

Reliable “Always On”

One of the biggest rumors about the 720 is the “Always On” feature, wherein the console has to be connected to the Internet every time you use it. This is actually the trend in gaming nowadays, so it is not surprising to see Microsoft adopt this concept  for its next behemoth. Aside from decreasing the instances of bootlegged titles and hacked consoles, it will also ensure that the users are always connected to their stores, purchase-ready.

Not a lot of people are concerned about being “always on,” since Internet has been effectively used in console gaming for years now. The Internet has been used for a lot of things, from online banking to business phones, so it’s really no surprise to see it successfully integrated into console gaming. The only worry with this feature is its capacity to keep you connected when you really want to play. With thousands of players all over the world, there’s always the risk of getting disconnected and booted from your favorite game. The SimCity fiasco should serve as a lesson to those who are eyeing the “always on” feature: if you can’t keep your players connected, you will fail miserably. With that in mind, Microsoft should invest in reliable hardware and infrastructure to keep Xbox 720 users connected, from log-in to log-off, no matter how long that is.

Social Functionality

Ah social media, you fiend! Gone are days when gamers log on and play for hours without worrying about their social “connections.” Even the most hard-core gamers are now connected to a social circle, all thanks to various social networking platforms and sites. Nintendo’s Wii U is the trailblazer in console gaming and social media integration, and this probably the same path that Xbox 720 will be taking. Just like Wii U’s Miiverse, the 720 can allow its gamers to add buddies, see what rest of the gaming world plays most, create walkthrough and hints posts on a message board, and get more “immersed” in the gaming world. This gives the console owners something else to look forward to aside from their favourite titles when they turn their machines on. Who says gamers can’t get along?

A New Controller?

I am on the fence on this one: I am completely satisfied with the look and feel of the 360’s controller, but I am deeply envious of the PS4’s new hardware. I am curious about the possibility of getting a trackpad on the face of the controller, and maybe a redesign or realignment of some of the buttons. Purists would be fuming from the thought of seeing a new one, but a minor refresh would actually be very much appreciated. Both the PS4 and the Wii U have updated theirs, so there’s no reason for the 720 to lag behind.

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