It's been 24 hours since the Xbox One was announced at Microsoft's press event in Redmond, Washington. The internet of course has been ablaze with opinions, so we thought we would have our turn. Today a handful of our editors briefly describe their overall impressions of what Microsoft has shown us so far.
There is no point watching the Xbox One reveal and complaining that they’re not showing games. The consoles aren’t about just games anymore. No one can make a console that just plays GAMES these days, and if these things weren’t there, we’d be doing the opposite--talking about how we’re not going to buy it because it doesn’t have the right features that we want in the end. The problem is that what they showed wasn’t really that interesting or unique. Having multitasking is cool, but what they really needed were some more specifics. Does Live cost money? Is there a share functionality? You mentioned the Cloud, but what exactly is it being used for? HOW do Achievements change and become more personal? I don’t even know what the clockspeed of the thing is because all they said was “there are more transistors.” I guess they’ll be doing more hardware talk later, but in your worldwide reveal, you need to know how to balance the technical and the software better, instead of loading it with features that are more or less what you had on your LAST console, only with the promise of “really, this time it will work.” They didn’t even talk about the controversial always-online until AFTER the show, so it feels a little out of touch and not quite focused towards showing what we want to know, instead showing us a curated list of things THEY want us to want, and not what we’re actually looking for.
I feel that it’s a little premature to offer a full fledged impression considering what little was shown today. As I see it, Microsoft is continuing to push the “media all in one box” they’ve been touting for the last few years and the features certainly look interesting from that angle. However, my mind can’t help but wonder how much of that exciting content is locked behind Xbox Gold. It always seemed wrong to me that Silver members had to pay additional costs for services they normally get for free on different platforms. Clearly games were not the central focus of the show today, which was disappointing. That’s going to get me to buy a console, not TV. I’m also concerned about the statements made in the Wired article regarding used games. Those are discussions for June 10th, though. I’m going to withhold further judgement until then but right now, the Xbox One - as a media box - is something I’m not wholly interested in right now.
I speak to you right now as a disappointed man. Somebody who has followed the next gen rumormill vigorously since the concept of these consoles was just a whisper in the ear of many a gamer. And today I was expecting some serious spectacle. An amalgamation of years of study development and dedication to create the ultimate console not just for gaming, but for multi media as a whole. Instead I feel like I watched Microsoft pitch the concept of a tv set top box that just so happens to play games. Don’t take me as an xbox hater for saying that because I am far from it. I love my xbox, and I have the gamerscore to prove it but this just didn’t feel right to me as a gamer. I want to see tech demos. I want to be wowed by the technology held within the box. I don’t want to watch somebody using nearly 3 year old tech to launch their tv so they can watch ESPN and expect us to be amazed when he tells us about how he can access his fantasy football team from a sidebar on the screen. I will just have to wait until E3 and see if they bowl me over then. But other than that, all I can say for now is at least the new console / peripherals look quite nice.
I’m not going to say that the Xbox One’s announcement was a disappointment per se. What I will say is that it was underwhelming. Sure, they didn't show many games, but we knew that going in. What I’m disappointed in is the lack of detail. Sony glossed over many things in their press conference and left quite a few details up to the imagine or announced them after the show. I was really hoping Microsoft would take the opportunity to one-up Sony. But the closest they got to that was showing the actual Xbox One box. Instead Microsoft felt content to show off how their new console will further tie you to your cable or satellite bill rather than help you break free of it. Instead they decided to not give any information on Xbox Live or firmly quell rumors for used games or the required internet connection. Instead, Microsoft preached to the choir of Madden and Call of Duty fans who will buy the newest versions of said game whether they have such “innovative” features or not. Instead Microsoft told everyone to wait until E3 for any kind of substantial information. But hey, Forza 5, no one expected that, right?
It isn’t hard to look at the Xbox Ones’ announcement from a pure gamer’s point of view and be disappointed. Most of the press conference was taken up by television and entertainment announcements, rather than what most wanted to see, the next generation of video games on Microsoft's’ console. What was appreciated however was being shown the console, the controller and the new version of Kinect and how it is integrated into the Xbox One. A brief selection of specifications were also given, however they were a bit vague, not allowing us to get a clear idea of what the system was capable of, unlike the Playstation 4’s announcement. Few games were shown and when they were a lot of it seemed pre-rendered, building on our lack of knowledge of what to expect from the Xbox One. Microsoft’s push to show that the new Xbox isn’t just a games console, but an all in one entertainment platform is admirable but they absolutely have to step up their game for E3 and show that their console is the one to buy if you want the best next generation experience. At the moment though, it isn’t possible to tell.
With the rumors swirling around the gaming community in the last few months, it’s not all that surprising to see Microsoft doubling down on non-game related entertainment content. If the name wasn’t evidence enough, Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox One is focused on being the living room set-top box to rule them all. I can’t help but be disappointed by the lack of games, yet I fully understand Microsoft’s desire to appeal to the audience that used their 360 as a Netflix/Call of Duty machine. While we did see the beautiful, yet predictable Forza Motorsport 5, and a new IP from Remedy, it was clear that games were only a small part of the new console. The lack of games and the focus on sports and TV contributed to an unclear overall message from Microsoft. Guys like Marc Whitten and Phil Spencer were reluctant to share in-depth details; a stark contrast from the blunt presentation by Sony’s Mark Cerny. Instead, we got a by-the-book, PR style script full of vague promises that’s been prevalent in Microsoft’s last few press conferences. We have a clearer picture of the console, but many questions still linger. The situation with used games is a huge mess at the moment, and between Phil Harrison and Major Nelson, few definitive answers seem to be available. There were some bright spots however, such as 15 exclusive games in development, 8 of which will be new IP. While nothing is known yet, 15 is a staggering number for the first year of a console. The improved controller with a better D-Pad and rumble triggers sounds like solid incremental upgrades over the 360’s great form factor. The biggest surprise is the improved Kinect sensor that fixes space issues, and has far more precise tracking than its predecessor. While I’m not a fan of Kinect, I can’t help but be impressed by the incredible technology in it. The negatives unfortunately outweigh these positives, but a few interesting game announcements at E3 could go a long way in getting me behind the Xbox One.
Regardless of how cynical I might be, it’s great to finally be able to talk about these new consoles and to move on from a generation that has gone for far too long.
Sony really brought it at their press conference. It's hard to deny that they put on one hell if a show! I left the Sony announcement with the feeling of "Yes a new console!" However after the XBox One announcement I could only shrug my shoulders. Sony and Microsoft are clearly catering to different demographics and Sony is just a little more in my interests at this point. there really wasn't anything at the Microsoft event that made me feel like they were doing anything different or better aside from Kinect but I still don't want to play games that way anyway. While I can't deny that XBox One has some interesting qualities, it just doesn't seem to be what I'm looking for in a next gen console and they will have to sell me a little more first. To me I look at the XBox One as more of a home media console than a video game console and as someone who has survived without any kind of subscription service I just don't feel like I'm in their demographic at the moment. XBox, ill keep my eye on you, but Sony you're speaking my language so far.
That's all she wrote. If you want to go back in time and read what we had to say about Sony's reveal of the Playstation 4 back in February you can click here.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.