It’s fair to say that Microsoft is going from strength to strength right now. After its historically titanic acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the Xbox ecosystem is in a better position than ever, arguably both creatively and financially. Hopefully, Microsoft can make serious structural changes to Activision Blizzard’s corporate culture, but that’s not the only area in which the Xbox brand could change or improve. Here are 10 things we want to see from the Xbox brand in the near future.
Think of the things that could be done with a portable Xbox. As this tantalising Nerd Leaks article demonstrates, the “Xbox Series Z” – which was, unfortunately, just a mockup created by an incredibly talented amateur – could do wonders for Microsoft’s gaming portfolio in a portable sense. Portable games for Halo, Gears of War, and other franchises could be amazing, and getting to play major Game Pass hits on the go would be great, too. Of course, we have cloud gaming for that, but it’s not the same as dedicated games!
Right now, the lineup of Xbox exclusives is looking pretty barren, with many of the best games arriving on PS5. It’s fair to say Sony has Microsoft beat on exclusives; while the Japanese giant has titles like Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok on the…uh…horizon, Microsoft has to make do with a relatively paltry slate. Sure, there are games like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon, but for the most part, Microsoft doesn’t have many strings to its Xbox bow. That means we want to see Microsoft creating more unforgettable Xbox experiences that only PC and Xbox users can enjoy.
There’s no doubt that Xbox Game Pass represents incredible value for money. With that being said, there are quite a lot of mediocre titles padding out its numbers right now (no disrespect, developers). To put it simply, there are just too many games on Game Pass, so we want to see a simultaneous reduction in numbers and an increase in the quality of titles available. Fewer indie dungeon-crawler roguelites and more unique gaming experiences, please.
We know we can’t have our cake and eat it, but this isn’t really something we want from the Xbox brand itself. Rather, it’s something we want other brands to step forward and collaborate with Xbox on. Fewer exclusives on other platforms would mean Xbox owners would benefit from a larger game library, and vice versa; Nintendo and Sony users could enjoy Xbox games and everyone would be able to play alongside one another. Of course, this is a pipe dream, but we can hope!
To some extent, the lack of Xbox Series X consoles can’t really be said to be Microsoft’s fault. There’s a huge amount of consumer demand, and the parts to make enough consoles to satisfy all consumers just can’t be found. However, we would really like Microsoft to find a way to step up Xbox Series X production so we can get our hands on this incredible console. The Series S is just fine, and as a Game Pass machine, it’s perfect, but it just doesn’t have the horsepower of its bigger sibling.
Unfortunately, although the quality of most Xbox hardware is very high, that’s not something that can necessarily be said about the peripherals for the console. The Xbox Elite controller famously suffers from stick drift, which is not what we would expect from a controller that costs as much as the Elite does. We want to see Microsoft make better peripherals to a higher standard; preferably ones that don’t break despite us paying through the nose for them.
Lots of games are getting touch screen support on the Xbox Cloud Gaming program, and that’s great. We want to see this come to even more titles, though. Controlling our Xbox games with a controller just feels a little clunky and awkward, especially if we have to prop our phone or tablet up and squint at the screen. It would be better to be able to control all games available via the service using a touch screen, but we understand this won’t necessarily be possible. Still, this is our dream list, after all!
Don’t get us wrong; the Xbox Series S is a great little machine. However, it just can’t compete with its larger and more powerful alternative. We’re sure people wouldn’t have complained if Microsoft had instead released a version of the Xbox Series X without a disc drive, but with identical power. The Series S feels a little underpowered to be a true next-gen console; it’s more like a bridge. We love our Xbox Series S consoles, but we do wish there was a more powerful alternative available without paying the big bucks.
We’re not huge fans of the Xbox user interface here. It’s bland, clunky, and difficult to navigate, and it doesn’t exactly scream “next-gen” when you fire up the console and see a bunch of rather nondescript squares. We want to see something a little flashier from Xbox next time around. The Xbox dashboard does support dynamic backgrounds, which is nice, but when Microsoft releases a new console some years down the line, we want something a bit more exciting.
Both the Xbox Series X and Series S are essentially just featureless boxes. The Series S has a more distinctive look thanks to the giant circular fan on one side, but the Series X is a bland black box (which drew comparisons to a fridge when it was first announced). We know the PS5’s look has been divisive, but at least it’s distinctive and iconic, whether or not it works for you. Hopefully, Microsoft will come up with something a little more interesting when it comes to the form factor for its next consoles.