The run up to the release of the Xbox One was fraught with problems for Microsoft. Gamers were disappointed that the focus of the company seemed to be on creating an all-round entertainment system instead of the games console that they were after. Games couldn't be purchased pre-owned, sharing discs wasn't allowed, and you had to be online at least once a day if you wanted to do anything with your system.
Those things are all true, but they are simply the inconveniences of what was ultimately an innovative vision for gaming. You couldn't buy pre-owned or trade discs, but as a result anyone in your close friend circle could play any of the games you owned and vice versa. Sure, you had to be online pretty much 24/7, but that allowed for the possibility of evolving games that utilize the cloud. For every negative, there was a net positive to balance it out. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that all of these things were ahead of their time, and that was where the Xbox One stumbled prior to release.
Backtracking on some key issues, gamers were satisfied and pre-orders of the Xbox One skyrocketed, but what does that mean for the all-in-one system? Are we not interested in it at all? Or did Microsoft jump just a little too soon into something that may be incredibly desirable in the future? If the latter is the case then the all-in-one system is something we could expect to see honed in the Xbox Two.
How many devices are under your television at the moment? Maybe there’s a DVR recorder, a Blu-ray player, a games console (or three); you get the picture! We have a lot of devices these days, and if Xbox One X (Xbox Two) could combine them all in a way that the Xbox One has failed to be entirely successful in doing, this this could be a big improvement. So long as Microsoft doesn’t forget that the Xbox Two will, at its heart, be a games console of course!
At one point in the technology lifecycle we had access to more and more devices all the time, but now with powerful smartphones boasting high quality cameras and the ability to browse the web quickly and easily things are going the other way. Could we see a future with just an Xbox Two by the TV and a phone in our pocket that takes care of the rest of our computing needs? Maybe.
Take Smartglass for example. This is an app that integrates what you're seeing on the TV with your phone or tablet. Your mobile device shows additional information about what you're playing/watching. Some games have also opted to create individual companion apps that allow you to earn content in the full game while on the go. In this regard, we're already moving toward various levels of integration between our mobile devices and our consoles. To say that those two things would replace all other secondary devices doesn't seem so far-fetched in the grand scheme of things.
For a while we wondered if the Xbox One would get rid of disks altogether and rely entirely on a cloud-based system for accessing games and films, but it was not to be. Instead Microsoft has paid Sony who knows how much for access to the Blu-ray technology that our games will be delivered on. As internet connections get faster and storage solutions get cheaper however, we can see a day where we no longer need the physical media and store all of our movies, games and music in the cloud. This could be a big difference between the Xbox Two and the Xbox One.
Digital downloads have become far more prevalent in this current generation. With game streaming services like PlayStation Now already testing the waters of a fully cloud-based world, it's possible that we'll see Microsoft try once more with the "no-discs" approach when they release Xbox One X/Xbox 2 in holiday of 2017 (November 7th, 2017). Of course, they've promised that games would compatible across all systems, so most likely they will still be disks for the time being.
The other option of course is something called "Cloud Computing." This term refers to the game being played on your system, but only the integral parts of it. The more complicated stuff is handled by the cloud, which allows developers to add in a few extra touches and it allows them to modify the world of the game on the fly without you sitting through hours of patch downloads like the launch day of an MMORPG.
With each passing year we move away from traditional keyboard and mouse computing. Mobile phones and tablets these days can be controlled with simple swipes, voice commands and even recognition as to the position of your eye to make reading a book incredibly easy. We are becoming a ‘no touch’ society and it’s a trend that looks likely to continue as we see the Kinect becoming a staple of the Xbox One.
There’s no way we could do without the classic controller at the moment; imagine trying to play Call of Duty by commando rolling around your lounge and using your fingers to simulate a gun – not cool. But a few years down the line there is a chance that this could be a reality. How it would work remains to be seen, but interactive and immersive gaming is big business, and one way to achieve that aim could be to get rid of the controller. Imagine controlling your Xbox Two only with voice and motion. It would certainly be a big difference between it and the Xbox One.
Let's go even further, shall we? MIcrosoft is working on an augmented reality headset known as the HoloLens for Xbox One. This headset allows you to look into your living room and see the world change around you. It modifies what you see, hence the term "augmented reality." With technology like the HoloLens, combined with a truly accurate Kinect, there's really no need for anything in your hands like a controller anymore.
We have no knowledge as to the specifications that we could expect to see within the Xbox Two (Xbox One X), but this is inevitably an area where we will see some dramatic differences. Perhaps the eight cores in the Xbox One will be updated to 16 or 32 in the Xbox Two. Maybe we’ll see a similar multiplication of RAM with consoles fitted with 64 GB of memory. Our hard drives could increase from 500 MB up to multiple terabytes of space to cope with the downloading of games and movies.
What we do know, is that Xbox One X will be the most powerful console ever built. Phil Spencer has also gone on the record saying that Xbox Two is 4.5 times more powerful than Xbox One.
Or of course we could see little difference at all, with more of a focus on cloud computing away from the devices themselves. What if the Xbox Two was a small portable device, more like a smartphone in size, that simply docked into a slot by your television allowing you to access the power of a network of computers equivalent to having your own supercomputer in your own home? It’s an interesting thought to consider, and chances are the specification that comes included within the console will depend on the success of the Xbox One and future developments in the size and shape of computing components.
Whatever the Xbox Two looks like in direct comparison to the Xbox One you can guarantee that there will be some striking differences. What do you think? How will the two consoles differ? What new technology will Microsoft utilize to give us the best console yet?
Have your say in the comments below.