Before Microsoft revealed their new console this morning inside their Redmond, Washington campus, the official twitter account for Playstation Europe tweeted this morning that there would be no “big news” brewing today. After the most anticipated reveal of Microsoft’s new console, it’s now evident that Playstation Europe were wrong. The brew was plentiful, but a bad batch.
Months prior to today’s event, rumors and speculation ran rampant throughout the media. Information regarding how the console will handle used games, how the games will fare on the new console and truth about the “always online” feature were all huge rumors that remained up the air. With Microsoft giving no answers or comments on these troublesome rumors, one would think that a conference taking place on friendly grounds five weeks before E3 would have remedied any fears gamers might have had when deciding which console to claim come holiday season.
However, such thinking became wishful once the conference started. Microsoft finally announced that the console will be dubbed Xbox One, and already the name itself is a mistake—a badly calculated title that immediately jogs the memory of Microsoft’s first iteration of the Xbox, which can prove to be a deadly Christmas present later this year.
Despite impressive specifications in the console, such as the built in Wi-Fi and a 500 GB Hard Drive, the design looks strikingly similar to the ancient contraptions that we once referred to as VCRs. It’s an atrocious looking box that harbored nothing special about the design. There is neither color nor any noticeable sleekness. There’s simply no flair that gives prospective consumers a warm welcome.
On the contrary, the redesign of the Xbox controller and the Kinect looked quite snazzy. It’s been a long time coming for the re-work of the 360’s controller, and its worst attribute within its D-Pad. With the Xbox One, the D-pad looks to have brought back some precision, a relief for fighting game fans.
The new Xbox One Kinect also has some sharpness to it as well, with its specs looking to have a redesigned 1080p camera capable of picking up more breadth and depth within a players motion. Through this, gamers may be able to enjoy consistent gameplay when moving around and playing Kinect-ready games.
The focal point of the conference, however, remained within Xbox One’s ability to provide television to the console as well as providing sports fans the opportunity to keep tabs on their Fantasy franchise players within nearly every national sports organization. With the user interface that gamers have grown accustomed to, the Xbox One’s instant switching feature, which allows for seamless opening and closing between applications, works hand in hand with its Snapmode feature, that allows for more than one application to run at the same time.
Indeed, playing a game while surfing the net or jamming to some Deadmau5 sounds pretty nifty. Okay, let’s give it a go! Wait—what titles will we get to play while utilizing this so-called nifty feature?
Right now, the only games that Xbox One can be sure are any of EA sports launch titles or Call of Duty: Ghosts, the same old, re-hashed military shooter which will also be on the PlayStation 4 and will also have that beautifully detailed, kick-ass canine. Other than that, Microsoft didn’t have anything to really show regarding what we can play nor how we will be able to play them. They had the audacity to show pre-rendered trailers and short clips telling us how revolutionary the changes are without us getting a true feel of said changes. Their development team made vague announcements about 15 IPs currently in development with no name attached to them, which can give any skeptic the idea that nothing was ready in the first place.
They never commented on the always-on issue and never rose up to show the audience any new games.
The company barely even showed us what we knew they were going to show—the console and how it works. Considering the fact that this conference was broadcasted via Spike TV, Microsoft had the floor of in front of the grand public eye, so they chose to go the safe route and stay quiet about anything that might turn them away.
Microsoft wanted to hide from the TV audience what many wanted answers to—what is to become of used games and whether or not there is an always-on restriction for engaging with Xbox One. As today grows on, one can conclude that if we aren’t going to get that information directly, we’ll surely hear about it later.
Although not concrete in detail, reports have surfaced that while Xbox One may not require an always-on connectivity, it does have to be connected for at least 24 hours to ensure that gamers can keep playing, which doesn’t bode well for gamers who don’t have internet at all.
Various reports indicate that once you install a game onto the console, it locks that game to your console and your account. It even goes so far as to rid the worry of having the actual disc around. Installing a disc on another Xbox One—per say your friends or if your previous XBOX One broke—requires that you shell out an extra $60 to do so. Once you’re done with the game, Microsoft will only allow you to sell or trade your games online, albeit to fight used games sales for Gamestop and game rental services.
Now, we can be sure of several things: today’s conference proved that Microsoft is starting to care less about their core audience and the games that they crave and are more enamored with selling an entertainment system rather than a video game console. They chatter up all the good points—or lack thereof—of their new system being phenomenal asset for TV and sports shows, while they wait until the bombshell of bad news to drop when they think the world isn’t watching.
Microsoft, the world is watching very closely. Today’s conference was an overall disappointment and you know it. At this point, anything that you can possibly have up your sleeves at E3 has little chance of deterring many self-proclaimed former loyal customers from switching over to your competition, because what else have you got to show other than that you present yourself as a money hungry corporation who clearly holds that video games, an asset that made Xbox a prominent household name in the first place, are gradually becoming a non-factor for your business?
If Microsoft were smart, they’d change their outlook between now and E3 or at least be honest and confess that they’re trying to set-up their consumers. They should speak more about the console itself and give concrete details about how the disc locking and selling of used games will work. However, the way that the company has so far presented themselves—shhhh! You hear that? That’s the sound of Xbox Live Gold members deactivations dropping harder than Microsoft’s stocks.