Next Generation Gaming System - If you're doing this, you're doing it wrong
Steve Jobs rather famously said that if your tablet computer has a stylus, then you're doing it wrong. Since Apple, along with Android, are leading the mobile gaming platform I thought it be good to apply what was learned from these platforms to the next gaming system. Both Sony and Microsoft are expected to release new hardware next year, and here are my thoughts on what direction they should be going.
If a game takes longer then 10 seconds to load, from the time you turn on the game console, you're doing it wrong.
Install times are one thing, but once the game is installed it needs to launch quickly. A barrier to playing games is the effort it takes to start. Apple's iOS has focused on the opposite of current gaming platforms: You launch a game, and it starts right-away. I'm willing to give big budget games longer load-times, but anything over 10 seconds is excessive.
Even though some games earn more then Hollywood blockbuster movies, that doesn't mean we need to see every 'iconic' image of every company that worked on the game to make it happen. There's a time and place for this, and its not at the start of the game. Show it to us once the first time we launch the game, and then leave us alone about it.
If games are not able to remember the last state they were in, you've already failed. Four out of five times we want launch a game we want to continue with the game we left off. Why, then, are we having to load the last place in the game? If console makers and game developers are really worried about this, create the default to resume but give us a shortcut from the main gaming menu when launching the game if we want to do something different.
Make it simple: A user selects the game they want to play, and the game starts in the previous state it was left in (just like in iOS).
This means if you're still using those old-fashion storage devices that has spinning parts, you're going to be lost in the 2000s. Gaming consoles have a lifespan of 6 or more years. Magnetic spinning hard-drives are slow, loud, and did I mention they spin?
Solid-state hard-drives have no moving parts and they're much faster. A modern gaming system needs to move to SSD to succeed. This sounds expensive, but there are hybrid models around that have both a SSD and a traditional disk drive allowing most often files to be accessed quicker. Start with this technology, you can release a full SSD system later on as the technology becomes cheaper.
DVD and Bluray are dying, and if your gaming system solely depends on this, it'll not last. No one likes inserting disks into the gaming system to play a game, and for that matter, why can't we store the game locally on the machine? The PC gaming industry is getting a lot of flack for its digital-rights management (DRM) systems that require the internet to play games, but Apple seems to be doing alright with its implementation because the customer sees the convenience of a system done right.
It's probably unrealistic to expect gaming system remove DVDs entirely, but I'd love to see us go back to the day of cartridges: Except this time these cartridges would be simple memory sticks. If those memory sticks are based on USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt technology you won't need to worry about long load times either. Lower production games might not be able to afford this, but the big game franchises can afford the extra dollars and I'm sure the Thunderbolt licensing could get cheaper if you sell a hundred-million games.
Disks slow down game play, and beyond offering some copyright protection to the developers through proprietary means, they're of no benefit to the consumer. A modern gaming system needs to do away with this.
Finally, while I'm not a fan of 3D movies (for the most part), if your gaming system doesn't have incredible 3D capabilities, you're doing it wrong. Movies in 3D are often gimmicky, but these gimmicks are perfect for the gaming industry. Current consoles don't have the processing power to really take advantage of 3D, but the next generation gaming consoles should have plenty of power.