We first got a glimpse of what Sony planned to offer with the PS4 back in February, but now we’ve finally seen the next Xbox, the Xbox One. How did the American behemoth match up to the Japanese giant? Did the show disappoint, or truly usher in the next-gen? Daily Reaction‘s Seb and Dan discuss.
Seb: As always with DRs that discuss the console wars, it’s worth pointing out for any new readers that we bash everything, and that we don’t pull any punches no matter whose face is in the way. Just go look at some of our previous reactions, like Sony’s CES show.
Ok, with that now said – My god that was terrible. Utterly, irrevocably, insultingly terrible. There’s a chance that Microsoft could rectify many of the issues I’ll bring up (not all, however) at E3. But that doesn’t stop this event from being awful, boring and poorly planned.
First off: Xbox One is an abysmal name, it’s uninventive, confusing for parents and newcomers who don’t understand how Xbox One is after Xbox 360, and it means that Microsoft have a One going up against a 4, something that is odd, given that the only reason 360 was chosen was because of the PS3 sounded higher than Xbox 2. And, before you say anything, yes consumers are that stupid.
Then, they moved onto Kinect. At a show being watched by gamers. Kinect. They showed how your slight hand movements would zoom in and out of videos, in a gesture that looked exactly like opening a bag of chips… which won’t be inconvenient at all. Oh and that Kinect 2? It needs to always be plugged in for the One to function even with non-Kinect stuff, as I predicted. An always-connected camera that watches you and analyzes everything you say, while being connected to the internet and 300,000 dedicated servers.
After that, they started talking about video and film features. At a show being watched by gamers. Highlights included being able to watch a Star Trek video and connect your phone so that you can watch the same video on the phone for some reason, or being able to receive Skype calls without your film pausing automatically. It just plays on and on in the background, refusing to end, like the Xbox One event.
This was when Microsoft got into their element, and focused on the Xbox One’s main feature – being able to work as a SmartTV and provide a bunch of TV shows. Smart TVs aren’t a huge success, and there are numerous systems that offer video services, making it a crowded market to compete in (not to mention Apple’s oft-rumored AppleTV). And then there’s all the people who are just happy with the TV they have, are already subscribed to things, or simply just pirate.
It is pretty interesting looking though, and would have been a great CES-type reveal extra – but what they don’t say is that ‘at launch, Live TV will require a supported receiver device with HDMI output’. And, while this may not seem like a big thing for US readers, Live TV with Kinect, Live TV with One Guide, Trending, and NFL will only be available in the US at launch.
I’ll fast forward, sadly something that couldn’t be done while the show was live, to about 35 minutes into the hour-long event: Finally, games were mentioned! Multiplatform games. One of them got exclusive content, at least, I guess. EA Sports also announced a “strategic partnership” with Microsoft, the same words used by EA for the Wii U, which they have now dropped all support for.
Then we got one small glimpse of proper exclusives, and that could have been good, but it was too short and mostly live action. I must, however, give them kudos for announcing a new core IP, something Sony didn’t really do in February, depending on how you look at Knack. There was a whisper about more games being in development, but who knows what scale they are – most could be downloadable.
That already over, they were then back to talking about TV and milking Halo (with a TV show), before finally ending with a painfully drawn out Call of Duty trailer, where they tried to make climbing over cover seem like an innovative feature.
The TV features do look pretty fun, and I can see it being a draw for some consumers. But that’s not why people were watching, and that’s not why people buy a games console. They want games, and there weren’t any. It makes one seriously wonder where Microsoft’s focus is and whether, when they were preparing this games console presentation, anyone remotely interested in games was actually involved.
If Microsoft doesn’t provide any actual games, then they are forgetting the core reason why people buy a games console in the first place, and those consumers will abandon the platform.
Congratulations Microsoft, you’ve created an expensive DVR people can talk to. “Xbox, go home.”
Dan: While I am not as feverous about the poor quality of the Xbox One reveal as Seb, I must agree. Microsoft pretty much came out and said, ‘our audience doesn’t care about games, they want TV’. Every aspect of the unveil focused on the entertainment factor that the One can bring, minus the gaming aspect, so that Xbox fans can do all sorts of things within a single device.
This might seem like an amazing concept, but given the social aspect of things like watching sports or television, I just don’t know how much I would want to be bothered by my friend’s Fantasy Football stats, or Skype call – when, in reality, he has a phone that allows him to do all of that without getting in my way.
The concept that Microsoft are “…going to change entertainment forever” is very much a load of bullshit. Their change to entertainment is the concept of multi-tasking, which is far from a new concept for most people born after the 80s and 90s. Allowing me to ‘seamlessly’ switch between the internet and my game is a function I currently have on my phone (not to mention the PC hooked up to my TV), and, given that it actually has games, I think I will just stick to that.
I do love just how much hyperbole Microsoft was able to spew out of this conference, as most of what was unveiled was rehashing of existing tech, and far from anything anyone actually wanted. The Xbox One’s ability to instantly connect to the internet within a movie has been a standard Blu-ray feature for years, and is far from an option many have ever even utilized. Also, I have been able to seamlessly adjust my own volume for years without any issue, but thanks anyway MS.
Moving away from just how little Microsoft actually showed, we were left with the unit itself, the Xbox One. A behemoth of a system, looking to dwarf the 360 with its overly boxy demeanor, it reminds me more of an early DVD player than a gaming console – but, I guess it really isn’t much of one anyway.
The controller redesign looks, meh – but now my buttons vibrate…woo? I just hope they allow the old controller to be used with the One, but given the integration with Kinect, it looks like we will be stuck with the melted Xbox 1 controller for the Xbox One.
The fact that all Ones will now come with a Kinect 2 camera makes me thankful that I did not purchase the original Kinect, because I would be pissed that I spent $100 only to HAVE to purchase a new one this soon – especially given how much support the last one had.
Before the reveal, it was nice to hear that MS squashed the rumors that said the One will be always online, but now that the truth is out, we have new fears. Always online is still a function within the console, but is now optional use for developers. Apparently, any developer that wants to include DRM support for their game is now fully capable of doing that in the console space. Thankfully, I guess this does mean that we could have the option of seeing (but not playing) SimCity on a console finally.
This concept of targeting the home market, as opposed to the gaming market, is a tactic Microsoft is using to Trojan itself back into their core demographic. Gamers might see this as a WTF moment, as the One didn’t show many games, but they need to understand what it means to be an Xbox gamer. Microsoft have seen the statistics on 360 usage, and understand that their core audience really enjoys yelling at the TV. This concept can be seen on every XBL match, the popularity of Call of Duty, Kinect having you speak to the television, the inclusion of Skype into everything and emphasized by their hope that gamers will use the video editing software for “bragging rights”.
Update: While the Xbox One will not require you to be ‘always on’ for single player games, you will have to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours.
What did you think of the Xbox One event? Was Microsoft smart to focus on TV and camera features over games? Is the Xbox One actually a brilliant name? With E3 yet to come, is everything going to be ok? Let us know in the comments below, brand us fanboys on our Twitters at Seb and Dan or tell us what you’d call the Xbox instead at [email protected].