For those that don’t follow gaming, just last summer Nintendo announced its Wii successor, the Wii U, would feature a new controller that had traditional buttons and joysticks combined with a tablet-like interface and touchscreen.
Now rumors suggest that Microsoft might be following suite with its next Xbox system, rumored to possibly be called the Xbox 8.
While all rumors like this should certainly be taken with a HUGE grain of salt, I can also see how this could possibly make a great deal of sense and fit well with Microsoft’s Windows 8 Metro strategy.
By featuring a tablet-like controller, you could have wireless freedom throughout your house that would stream its content directly from your Xbox 8 (or whatever it ends up being called). On the tablet screen you could watch the rich, growing amount of Xbox Live media content, play customized apps, and maybe even have full use of METRO.
While such a controller would be VERY expensive, imagine if they considered a version that had built-in Kinect as an option. You could use gesture controls in the bedroom, the kitchen, and anywhere you go throughout the house.
By allowing full use of METRO apps on this controller they could certainly offer a pretty unique experience for its users. And on the go? Imagine if they offered a way to sync your current metro app experience (like a game) directly to your Windows Phone, leaving where you left off.
Keep in mind that this is all 1000% speculation, but it could certainly make sense at least as a supplement to traditional controllers. A tablet controller wouldn’t have any internals of its own, instead relying on the Xbox 8 as its ‘brains’. Laying comfortably in your recliner you could browse through your TV guide-like app while watching another show on the big screen.
Then when you select what you want to watch from the tablet screen, it changes on the big screen. Maybe you could even watch 2 different programs, one of the TV and one on the controller.
For gaming you’d have new and unique ways to play, and maybe you could even use Windows 8 tablets as secondary controls on the device.
As an extension of the Windows lifestyle and a way to bring new media content and experiences it has some strong potential. On the flipside, it also could be very, very expensive. Still, if all the brains where in the console itself, a controller could likely cost just $80-$150 if MS sold it at a loss (which could happen).
Another big factor that makes this move questionable though is how ‘core’ gamers would react to it. If the tablet controller is just a way to use the media in new ways, can play some specialty games, and add new experiences but isn’t required (like connect), I don’t think it would cause a problem. On the other hand, if they decided to only use tablet controllers instead of traditional ones, that would be a major issue for many gamers.
I think that having Kinect and the Tablet Controller (or maybe just integrating with Windows 8 tablets) as a supplement for media/entertainment uses has a lot of merit though. The era of gaming is rapidly changing, and its not just about games anymore, its about the best entertainment experience possible.
Thinking outside of the box and offering both new ways to play, interact, and entertain with technology is very critical going into this next generation of consoles, in my opinion.
What do you think? Is adding a tablet controller or even allowing syncing of Windows 8 tablets to Xbox 8 a good or bad idea?
Share your thoughts below.