The console scene is something I am both intimately connected to and irrevocably separated from. Game consoles represent gaming in it's entirety for most people, so for that I must indeed care about it. But yet, I personally am not one who particularly favors them nor has the kind of money to have my own and buy games for, etc.
In this generation, we've seen amazing leaps. More so, in my opinion, than any of the previous console generations. And it's all thanks to internet connectivity, of course. We have networked gaming, DLC, patching(of both games and the system itself), and downloadable games.(don't forget XBLIG and XNA) I think another day I'll go over how fantastic these features are and how these systems' potential is being missed currently, but that's for another day. Today I want to talk about what I'd like to see be part of the future of console gaming.
I'd like to see complete integration with PCs. First and foremost, a gaming console is a computer. Moreso than ever, in fact. They have similar components that run programs/games in an identical fashion that PC computers do. What I would like to see in the next generation is games running on both PC and console, no porting.
For instance, Microsoft could make the next Xbox be a special version of a Windows computer specifically geared towards playing games and being a home entertainment center.(signs actually show that this is a possibility!) However, for Sony and Nintendo this might not be so easy. They certainly won't want to embed Windows on their consoles, never mind the fact that Microsoft might not allow it if they can. Linux/Unix is of course always a possibility, seeing as both the PS3 and Wii are based on it already, form what I've heard. But then of course there's the issue that most people won't want to use Linux, never mind the fact that they might not have the technical skill or desire to do it themselves. For this instance I can see Nintendo and Sony releasing special flavors of the OS which mirrors the OS they end up putting on the console. Issue here is that might be effort they're not willing to put in.
Ultimately there are several reasons to unify PC and console. Most importantly from my perspective is the greater ease put on developers. It would be much easier to test a game because they'd be able to test it right from their development computer and there would be no hassle in investing in special development tools. This system would also make digital downloads much easier. Most people on PCs already prefer if not exclusively demand digital downloads, which is supported by the fact that hard drives are cheap and accessible.
Now, with this will also come a host of issues. For one, piracy and hacking. There will be lots of worry for publishers on piracy, and lots of worries for players on hacking. Well, it happens already--Consoles are computers, like I said. People have created plenty of methods for hacking and pirating on current-gen consoles. If you're seeking solutions for these problems, go ask the good 'ol guys at Valve, I'm sure they'll have fantastic advice to give on the subject.
Then of course is fragmentation(of hardware specs), arguably PC's greatest issue. My answer to this, put simply, is that it isn't that much of an issue. Remember, I'm not saying getting rid of consoles. I'm saying still make consoles, but much more like a "standard issue" console-PC that comes built and ready to play games, etc. For people who don't want to deal with specs, they simply won't have to.
I can already tell that many people would want this on a console still, and that's to be expected. But merging the console and PC software opens up the vast and ever-hungry market of PC gamers, many of which beg and beg for more games to be released on it. This does two things, it gives them what they want(and gives you money, what you want, publishers), and as a result gives PC gamers the satisfaction they desire and henceforth feel much better about what you offer as a company, which I think is a really big plus.
And that sums up my "Part 1" of this series: Merge PC and console software.
Microsoft is in absolutely the best position to make this leap, and I'm cheering for them to do this. It will benefit them and the players alike, give them a big edge on the competition, and so on and so forth.
Have a nice day, everybody~