A letter to Microsoft

Hey Microsoft, especially you guys in the Xbox division, we need to have a talk. end_of_the_road.jpg

Or how about I just throw out some ideas and you strongly consider them. You have the opportunity to (yet again) revolutionize the console gaming industry if you do.

It’s recently been announced that you have discontinued production of the Xbox 360. Now, let’s not complain about that. It had a good, long run. I owned two in that period and my kids have each owned one of their own. I currently have an Xbox One setting underneath my 360. They both see use.

It’s been stated that the 360 will still be supported, but let’s be realistic. How long will it be supported? Eventually Xbox Live support for the 360 will vanish. Just as it did for the original Xbox. That’s where my issue lies.

The shutting down of the original Xbox’s servers should have taught you something. Folks didn’t want the servers to be shut down. It had to happen, I’m not foolish to assume otherwise, but there’s a HUGE market for nostalgic gaming out there and people don’t want to own a piece of equipment that doesn’t work anymore. If the 360’s internet capabilities are cut that’s exactly what’ll happen.

360wht.jpg Let me explain. I have a number of old systems (various Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and Microsoft systems) that range from the original NES to the Dreamcast. I even have a Virtualboy. These systems are not reliant on anything else to function. I can put any games in them and play all of the functionality. These systems still sell on certain markets and older gamers clamor for them when the urge hits. However, that era is ending. Newer systems rely heavily of the internet to function.

This leads to the problem that will eventually face the 360. Yes, Microsoft will want to move on to focusing on the Xbox One. That’s the new money maker. But how about a final, large update for the 360 along with a bit of software for windows that allows for people to host a makeshift Xbox Live?

I’m not the best programmer, but I’ve dabbled a lot in VB6, VB2010, PHP, SQL, and the like. I know that what I really want would be a hassle and pain in the butt. However, a simple host to allow conversations (parties), sharing of accounts, and some game hosting of famous titles wouldn’t be out of the question. Opening up the multiplayer hosting of Halo 3-4 and other Microsoft owned titles for instance. A small bit of software that people could install on their home computers to host an personal Xbox (360) Live server on and packages for certain games to run along beside it. A setting in an update for the 360 would allow the user to redirect to that IP.

And give users the ability to download their current gold profiles so that they still have their avatars and purchased items. It would simply be an account on the server (or even info stored on the 360 HHD or thumb drive that the server sees).

A lot of people are hosting their own stuff now. Starmade allows you to host a game server. So does Space Engineers and Minecraft (A Microsoft owned title). People are even hosting their own ‘Netflix styled video service’ via Plex. This is a direction the online world is leaning towards.

360blk.jpg Think of the benefits. Microsoft will have done something that other companies have yet to do. They would have made modding a console pointless because they opened it up themselves. Microsoft could be the hero in this story. While Sony is still being frowned upon for past actions with their consoles Microsoft will be seen as the company that ‘gave back’. There will be no more money to be made from the 360 at this point, why not give a little something?

I’m not asking to completely open up the console (Although I’m sure some people would love that). I’m just asking if the functionality could be preserved in a useful way.

I can pull any console I own out of storage and play any of the games in full functionality except for two. Those two are the original Xbox and the PS2. Sadly, this is where console technology is heading. Too much is reliant on hosted servers for functionality.

So, when retiring the next console why not give that server functionality to the people who made the console a success? There’s nothing to fear from taking away revenue from the Xbox One. I’m proof of that. People still want to move on, but they also don’t want a useless piece of garbage that only contains vague memories of past excitement. People want to occasionally pull out that device and relive those memories with a small group of friends.


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