Xbox One is not a gaming console, but an entertainment system.
So there you have it – yesterday, Microsoft announced their next-generation console, the Xbox One. But one question seemed to pervade the air as the one-hour announcement commenced: where are the games? Gamers seemed confused about the limited mention of gaming for the new console and most gaming journalists were left scratching their heads.
So I’m going to try to sum up what we’ve learned. However, there are a lot of contradictions floating around about the new console (as there usually is after such an announcement that really doesn’t answer a lot of questions).
To start with, the big disappointment is that the Xbox One is being marketing not as a gaming console, but as an entertainment system. Most of the big announcement was centered around using Kinect (which is a required component for the system) for watching TV. Now this would have been exciting had this meant we could watch TV shows without a cable or satellite subscription. Sadly, that is not the case – the Xbox ties into your existing box and serves as a secondary box that just does cooler things. And considering these features will probably be exclusive to only certain cable and satellite providers, many Xbox users won’t even have these options available to them.
Once the reveal finally got around to games, we were teased with nothing more than EA Sports, Forza and a new title called Quantum Break. However, all that was shown was pre-rendered scenes and trailers, so we still really have no idea what these games actually look like when played on the Xbox One. The gaming segment of the big reveal felt like an afterthought – like Microsoft went “Oh, crap, we forgot about the gaming.” Literally, Microsoft devoted maybe 10 minutes to gaming at the very end of the announcement. In comparison, Sony’s PS4 reveal announcement was predominantly about just that – gaming.
After the fact, we also started to learn more, most of it enough to anger the core gaming community. Pre-owned games will now require a fee to be played on systems. The Xbox One requires a Kinect in order to operate. Your Xbox One will require an internet connection – it doesn’t have to be “always on,” but it is needed in order to install games once you get them. Leading into that, all games must be installed to the hard drive. In addition, Xbox Live features will only be available to those who have a paid subscription (and my guess would be it’s the same for any of the cool TV features Microsoft showed off during the announcement).
These things are all a huge slap in the face of gamers and serves as proof that Microsoft no longer really cares about the market that made the Xbox 360 so huge. And although I reamed Sony for their PS4 reveal, the more information that comes out about that system has turned this former Xbox fangirl into a PlayStation groupie. Yes, that’s right – with the information I have right now, I’m probably going to buy a PS4 before considering an Xbox One. I have, more or less, already switched from watching television on my Xbox 360 (after my paid subscription ran out) to watching it on my PS3 (which doesn’t require a paid subscription to watch Hulu or Netflix). The Xbox One just put a nail in the coffin of my fandom for the Xbox.
As far as embracing developers go, Microsoft is also irking independent developers. It was confirmed today that indie games will not be allowed to be self-published to the system. On the other hand, Sony is embracing indie developers with open arms. I believe that the large presence of EA at the Xbox One reveal was pretty telling as to where Microsoft’s loyalties lay – not with the developers, but with the big money publishers.
Whatever the case, E3 is still around the corner and perhaps Microsoft will backtrack on some of these issues or at least address them. Meanwhile, Sony is celebrating the major fail that the Xbox One reveal was.