So Microsoft has had a pretty rocky start with their next generation console, the Xbox One. This isn't entirely the fault of the console though. While they're pushing away their core market by adding in all of these other features that nobody really wants, the main problem they're dealing with is customer trust. In the months leading up to this announcement they've had a tough time with DRM rumors.
And now that the console is out in the open, these rumors have only gotten worse thanks to a series of he said she said articles being posted on the web. While we still don't have a clear and honest answer from Microsoft, I can safely say it is looking incredibly bad for the electronics giant. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here is how Microsoft can win this generation in three simple steps.
Step One: Give The Xbox One A Voice
The moment people could talk to their 360's is the same moment people's 360's should have been able to talk back to them. People want to experience (a word Microsoft loves) the future of technology, and a seemingly sentient console would have been the perfect way to pull this off last generation. Of course the problem here was that the Kinect appeared late in the console's life and developer's understanding of the peripheral was still just starting to flourish.
But that shouldn't be a problem for a console that has made the newer and more powerful Kinect 2 mandatory for every single one of their consoles to function. Not only will everyone have to make use of the peripheral on day one, but they'll also have past experience from the last few years of tinkering with the original version of the device on the Xbox 360. Now, what do I mean by a console that can talk back to you?
I nominate Ellen McLain for the female Xbox One voice.
Well I'll get into that in a bit, but first let's talk about how it needs to be set up. Microsoft can't just throw Microsoft Sam onto every Xbox One and call it a day. They'll need to hire at least one actor and actress to fill the roles of your Xbox One guide. And then they need to lock those two people down into contracts forever, because their voices will be the Xbox One's Kevin Butler.
Every advertisement and every big reveal would have to include those voices. If done right, potential buyers will become familiar with them before they ever even considered buying a console. Microsoft needs an advertising gimmick, and a talking Xbox would fill that role perfectly. But now we're going to get into the crazy stuff.
Give The Voice Personality
Now, just what do I mean by giving the Xbox One the ability to talk to you? A simple yes and no system wouldn't suffice at this point in history. That would just be embarrassing. If Microsoft wanted this to work, they would have to give the voices personality. The best example I can think of that would accurately show off what I mean would be the game Seaman for the Dreamcast.
I hate how much this game title appears in my search history.
In it you take care of little fish people who occasionally ask you questions about yourself while also appearing extremely lifeless and cold. It was clunky and slow going, but to be fair, this is from a game released over a decade ago. And it was also absolutely phenomenal stuff back then. What Microsoft needs to do is make that the Kinect 2's whole gimmick.
Not only should they put in a voice that responds to your commands, they should put in a voice that asks you questions and remembers what you tell it. It would essentially be a disembodied Project Milo, a game I was so hyped up for that I ignored all of the Kinect's other flaws. Of course Project Milo never surfaced, but perhaps his tech demo could be used to make my dream come true with the Kinect 2.
Make It Personal To The User
So now the Xbox has a voice and an interesting personality. What else does it need? Well, we're going to go back to the game Seaman for a bit. In the game you usually had between three and five little fishmen. Instead of forcing you to grow a bond with each and every one individually, the game gave you the ability to name them. Of course they couldn't say their own name, but they reacted whenever you said it.
And that was pretty impressive for decade old technology. While I'd still be just as impressed today if another company pulled it off successfully, there is actually another reason I'm bringing this up, and its griefing related. During the Xbox One reveal, people watching the show on their Xbox's were subject to frequent pauses and complete closure of their streams due to the commands being said to the new Kinect.
This image will make sense in a minute. Just keep reading.
Since everyone will have a Kinect 2 hooked up to their Xbox One, then it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine people being able to hijack their opponents Kinects simply by yelling commands into their own and having everyone else's Kinects pick up on it. While this would be hilarious, giving the Kinect a name would help cut down on issues like this. Instead of saying "Xbox, turn on." you could say "[iNSERT NAME HERE], turn on."
But we're going to take it one step further. We're going to go the companion route. Look at games like Bioshock: Infinite. While the game has been out for about a month, people are still actively talking about it and posting things on the web. Why are they doing this? Its all because of the character Elizabeth, and people's tendency to grow attached to her. If Microsoft can give their Kinect's male and female voice a pleasant enough personality, then people will become attached to them the same exact way. No longer will you be reading about people calling Elizabeth their waifu, instead you'll be seeing people calling the Xbox One itself their waifu.
Its a hilarious thought, but you all know it would work in Microsoft's favor. A never ending stream of constant discussion on the internet about each person's own console and how their personality has developed over this next generation paired up with the ravenous fanbase of people declaring their actual love to their consoles? Its a win win for Microsoft, and they know they can do it if they only tried. As always, thank you for reading.