As you’ve heard by now, Microsoft announced their next console, the Xbox One, earlier this week. Certainly a hardware upgrade from the 360, the Xbox One was supposed to be the next great thing to come from Microsoft, as gamers tuned in from all over the world to watch the live reveal on Tuesday. We expected promises for greater graphics, revolutionary gameplay, new franchises, basically anything and everything gamers wanted to see in a new console, especially one meant to rival Sony’s PS4.
Instead, we were served a glorified cable box.
The XBox One features a 500GB built-in hard drive, 8GB RAM, and a Blu-Ray drive, which are all upgrades from the 360 console. The Kinect, now a required component, has also been upgraded with a 1080p camera and a 60% larger sensor field, allowing you to embarrass yourself in a much smaller, darker room. The new Kinect sensor registers joint movement, balance, expressions, and muscle force… but we’re not sure why. Unless you’re playing a game about squats, which we’d be into.
According to Microsoft’s live event, the console is meant to be an all-in-one home entertainment hub, with a large focus on television. Avid TV watchers can now connect their cable box directly to the console and channel surf using the Xbox interface, complete with voice recognition and motion control. ‘Snap Mode’ allows users to quickly switch between actions such as TV watching to game play, integrating various forms of entertainment into a seamless experience. You like football? Now you can watch football while playing a football game as you’re Skyping with your friends about fantasy football.
Despite these new enhancements and features, Microsoft has failed to excite their core audience: gamers. Following the announcement, players everywhere were left disappointed. Microsoft’s reveal focused too heavily on everything but video games: smart TV, their partnership with the NFL, their acquisition of Skype, even a Halo TV show produced by Steven Spielberg. Seriously, Steve? “Smash” wasn’t enough for you? While a few familiar names made their product debuts at the reveal, such as Madden NFL and Call of Duty, anyone who has ever held a game controller could have predicted the release of those titles. Where were the new franchises? What new, exciting games can we expect at launch? Will there finally be a game about squats?
What little game-related information we did get wasn’t good news. Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox One would not be backwards compatible with older games. Xbox One games are now required to be installed on the hard drive and linked to player accounts. This brings up questions about trading and reselling games, the possibility of an end to the used game market, and not to mention our color-coded, alphabetical shelving of games. Indie developers also have reason to turn away, as Microsoft stated they won’t allow self-publishing on the Xbox One. The lack of support for indies is surprising, since Sony’s PS4 will allow independent developers to publish on their platform.
Slated to launch later this year, the Xbox One has a lot of fires to put out before it gets overshadowed by the PS4. Needless to say, the XBox One has been less than favored by the gaming community, but with E3 around the corner, Microsoft has one last chance to prove that it hasn’t forgotten about its gamers.