The PS4 and Xbox 720 are likely to be announced next year. Whether they release in 2013 or not (I’d say they will) remains to be seen. But Nintendo is officially starting the next-generation of game consoles with the Wii U next month.
With Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles still hidden from the public there is the chance that they could take note of what Nintendo is doing with the Wii U and use some of that to improve the PS4 and Xbox 720. Here’s just a short list of what we think the PS4 and next Xbox could learn from the Wii U.
Always-on social networking
The first time I saw Miiverse I was impressed. Nintendo is trying to take the best things from message boards and social network sites like Twitter and merge them into a games console. Whether they do this successfully or not remains to be seen, but an active social network within a console is something I’d like to see from the PS4/720.
I don’t want to have to go to my friends list to see what my friends are saying about the final mission in Halo 5 on the Xbox 720. I want messages during loading screens (like the messages over the world map in New Super Mario Bros U) with my friends feelings on the last mission or warnings for the upcoming mission.
If my friend wants to warn me that a particular part of the stage in the latest Sonic game is prone to give players cheap deaths due to poor level design he should be able to leave me a message in game to warn me.
Multi-tasking: Web browsing, video chat during games
One feature of the Wii U and 3DS that I think everyone can agreed is awesome is the ability to browse the web and (for Wii U only) video chat with friends without having to quit your game and go back to your system’s main menu to launch another application for that specific item.
If you’re stuck at a boss in Killzone 4 and you just don’t know what to do you should be able to pause the game without having to quit it, go to your console’s web browser and look up an online guide in order to figure out how to get past that particular enemy.
Additionally, it would be pretty sweet if each console came with a camera built into the system or the controller and allowed you to video chat at all times with friends. Instead of putting up with your friends having crappy microphones and dealing with endless sessions of “can you hear me?” as you try to decide what game to play together gamers should be able to video chat at all times.
Play Used games
It has been rumored for a while not that Sony and Microsoft are considering consoles that don’t play used games. While this could help developer see a few more copies sold per game, I think it’s important that consumers have a choice.
Let consumers purchase used games if they want. They could offset these used sales by continuing to make new copies a better value with online passes, exclusive DLC, etc.
Nintendo is allowing used games to play on the Wii U, and Sony and Microsoft should make sure their next consoles do too.
$399 or lower price
Sony and Microsoft seem to be okay with taking a loss on hardware out of the gate. So they could potentially give us consoles with $500 or so worth of hardware. That’s great! Pack as much RAM and cores into those consoles as you can. Just do us a favor, keep it under $399 please. No more FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE US DOLLARS fiascos okay guys? We’re looking at you Sony.
Backwards Compatibility with all PS3/360 games
The Wii U plays all Wii games with very little issue. This can’t be said of the PS3/360. The 360 plays a majority of original Xbox games, but not all of them. Even then, some play poorly on the 360. The PS3 has lacked PS2 BC for years now and we sincerely hope Sony doesn’t make us have to keep our PS3′s in order to play classics like Heavy Rain and Uncharted 2 once we get a PS4. No emulation is preferable, let us play the actual game discs!
Include that second screen with every console
Sony boasts that the PS3 and PS Vita combo can do everything the Wii U can do. Whether this is true or not, it doesn’t matter because there likely won’t ever be a large amount of people who own both a PS Vita AND a PS3. To PS3 owners not interested in buying a handheld this makes the Vita an expensive accessory just to play PS3 games a different way.
Microsoft has hopes that Smartglass takes off but since it requires you to have a tablet or smartphone with a touch screen it is inevitably doomed to mostly be used for companion apps.
If MS and Sony really want to get serious about the second screen they need to include a touch screen equipped controller of sorts with each console. This doesn’t mean the main controller has to have a screen in it. Perhaps an extra Playstation 5-inch mini-tablet that is entirely dependant on the PS4 could be used together with a normal, unchanged Dual Shock controller.
Either way, if Sony and MS want to get serious about having second screens with their game consoles they need to include that second screen with every system sold.
User option to add hard drives, USB drives, etc
Now we’re looking at Microsoft with this one. Sony and MS hopefully take a page from Nintendo on this one.
The Wii U allows users to increase their console’s storage by adding up to a 3TB USB hard drive if they choose to. They don’t have to unscrew anything, simply plug and play.
The PS3 allows hard drive swaps but it requires a tiny bit of work on the part of the user. The 360 doesn’t allow users to use any additional storage that isn’t licensed by Microsoft other than flash drives going up to 16GB.
This way they could ship cheaper models of the 720 and PS4 with minimal amounts of storage but allow users to hook up any USB hard drive or flash memory we want. Often the price of buying a 250GB USB hard drive is half that of the price of Microsoft’s official 250GB Xbox 360 hard drive.
C’mon guys, let us alter our storage capacities as we please!
This is just a few of the things we hope Sony and Microsoft learn from the Wii U. If they take these into consideration perhaps the PS4 and Xbox 720 will be positively impacted. We can only hope Sony and Microsoft are checking out some of Nintendo’s innovations and policies with the Wii U and taking notes.