Let’s start with Sony, hopefully they learned a few things during this generation. The PS3 was tougher to develop for than the Wii or the 360. Based on Sony's PS4 announcement, they are going with an X86 and more of a PC-based architecture to ensure their console is easy to develop for. Their PS4 announcement also showed gamers that Sony will continue to showcase features and options that they might or might not use. An example from the previous generation is the sixaxis controls. On the PS4, it might be something with the light bar or touchscreen on the controller. Sony has also announced they will have a feature that lets gamers start playing games before they finish downloading. This is something the PS3 could have used. Based on what PS3 gamers had to deal with, we hope Sony will spend more time this generation making their online gaming experience better. This means they will probably charge for online play but could continue to offer a lot of free content through PS+. Sony also did a great job of developing a lot of exclusive AAA titles this generation such as inFamous, Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, and several others.
Microsoft has a few things to learn from the current generation as well. It is nice they charge for XBL, which offers at times a superior online experience to Sony's offerings. But why should gamers have to pay for XBL in order to use Netflix? Microsoft will continue to support and push the Kinect and find new and innovative ways to use the system. Hopefully, Microsoft will focus more on pushing exclusive AAA titles beyond Gears, Forza, and Halo. They could take a tip from Sony and make it inexpensive for gamers to swap out hard drives. Microsoft could also do something like PS+ and give more good content away for free. Sony’s XMB might not be as intuitive, and their online store might be slower, but at least it's not buried in advertisements.
Out of the big three, I feel Nintendo has the most to learn. One of the biggest ideas Nintendo could focus on is making it easier to play online with others. There is a desperate need for ease of transferring content between systems. MS/Sony made this extremely easy if gamers replaced their consoles, while Nintendo made this tougher than it needed to be. Furthermore, Nintendo could also make it easy and cheap to re-buy Nintendo Channel and Wii games on the new system. Be like Sony and give stuff away! While Nintendo has the strongest set of, and most recognizable, system selling exclusives, their 3rd party support is often the weakest. Since the Wii U came out first, Nintendo needs to do a good job of selling it to gamers who are on the fence. They should focus on some of the exclusives like Bayonetta 2 and Wonderful 101, push these while also marketing the AAA Nintendo franchises such as New Super Mario Bros. U and the latest Zelda game. Since Nintendo isn’t focusing on the casual audience this time around, they have some catching up to due in the terms of online features, and media options. But Nintendo does seem to have a good start with the Miiverse and some of their media options.
The biggest thing for both MS and Sony is they need to ensure their hardware is ready for consumers this time around as well. They could also really try to push their consoles into the hands of those who aren’t considered hardcore gamers much like the Wii did. Who knows what this generation will bring and until gamers see more of what Microsoft is doing we can only speculate.