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Even with gaming taking a backseat to multimedia functionality, Microsoft threw a lot of new information at the public with its Xbox One press conference. Find out what the Game Informer team thinks about the new hardware, television features, cloud computing, and, most importantly, game announcements.
Given that E3 is right around the corner, I didn't expect
Microsoft to focus on software much during the Xbox One Reveal, so I wasn't
disappointed by the lack of compelling game announcements. Instead, Microsoft made its pitch to
the masses with a new convergence device. This vision of a connected living
room intrigues me – who wouldn't appreciate being able to switch from a
football game to Madden in an instant to avoid the Ford F-150 commercial that
Fox has playing on repeat every game break? I also love the idea of
entertaining myself with something other than a static screen while I wait for
a multiplayer match to begin.
After the press conference wrapped, however, I had more
questions than answers regarding the feasibility of this bold new future.
Getting different devices to talk to one another is hard enough work. Not only must
Microsoft make the Xbox One compatible with dozens of different cable and
satellite boxes, it needs to create a critical line of conversation with these
providers and provide incentive for them to keep these systems simpatico
through myriad software updates. Going halfway won't help. If Microsoft only
lands deals with Comcast and U-verse, for instance, what would compel a
DirecTV, Dish Network, or Time Warner subscriber to purchase an Xbox One? This
degree of market segmentation could drive potential customers toward Sony
before we even get to the games conversation.
Yesterday's Xbox One unveiling event confirmed that
Microsoft's play for the console video game market had always been about the
control of the living room. This new system is designed to be an
all-encompassing entertainment device, and that message was delivered loud and
clear yesterday – perhaps to the expense of the system's gaming potential. But
while the hardcore may say that Microsoft has lost focus on its roots, you have
to admit that on a technological level the instant switching between apps,
live, television is impressive. If successful, it could finally unify your home
entertainment system into one clean interface. That's a plus for consumers.
Microsoft claims it has more new games in development that
ever before, but we have to wait until E3 to see their big guns. However, if it
managed to pack all this next-gen media functionality into a box that also has
the capability to be a truly powerful gaming platform, we all win. If its push
toward entertainment comes at the expense of their core gaming audience, they
will learn how unforgiving the market can be. For me, I'm genuinely excited
about a better, more advanced way to consume TV entertainment and I think Xbox
One represents a step in the right direction. No one, including myself, is
going to pay Microsoft money for a better cable box, and I think the company
knows that. However, if I can get a system that will be great for games plus
let me skip the hideous and unusable user interface of my Comcast box, I'd be
My enthusiasm for any
new console is dependent on games. Lots of people feel the same way, which could
be part of the reason that reactions to Microsoft's reveal turned negative. If
you're a company releasing a video game console, shouldn't video games take
Microsoft didn't do
that, and in that neglect, demonstrated its lack of regard for gamers. We're
not the audience that Microsoft was talking to; the company was talking to
people who liked Kinect, who don't already own six Netflix-capable devices, and
who don't care about whether or not they can borrow games from a friend.
Microsoft's reveal was a success in that it showed the company's strategic
emphasis on multimedia entertainment, but a failure in the way it further
alienated the hardcore gamers it once catered. E3 is Microsoft's chance to
highlight the exclusive software that will distinguish it from the PS4, so I'm
still excited about the potential of the Xbox One…but it's more in spite of
what I saw yesterday than because of it.
What I saw of the services
has me intrigued. I would definitely use the television functions, as I often
swap back and forth between live TV and my 360 when downloading content. I'm
also hopeful about the game offerings that we'll see at E3. We haven't yet
heard from Epic Games, 343 Industries' Halo (game) team, Crytek (Ryse), or
Lionhead. I'm interested in learning more about Quantum Break, as I'm a fan of
Remedy's past work. Once Microsoft has definitive answers (no matter what they
are) regarding used games and connectivity, it'll be far easier for consumers
to judge the landscape.
Microsoft has less than three weeks to get its messaging figured out. Yesterday fell apart from a public relations perspective, with different spokespeople offering a variety of answers to straightforward questions. If that happens again at E3 (or if Microsoft fails to provide concrete responses), the backlash is going to be substantial.
As someone who hasn't
had cable in years and has no plans to purchase it again, I remain unsold on
the Xbox One. The majority of the console's capabilities that Microsoft showed
seemed to me to be a bunch of things I can already do on devices I already own.
I mean, seriously – looking up info on cast members during a movie? Who is in
the market for an Xbox One that doesn't already have a smartphone, tablet,
and/or laptop that can accomplish that just as effectively? The one thing I saw
that interests me is the tie-in to Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform.
That could conceivably be used in interesting ways by game developers to create
genuinely new experiences. It seems like a lot of engineering overhead for
limited benefit for any multiplatform game, though, so I don't expect to see it
used in any real way except in Xbox One exclusives. Sony reaching out to indie
devs and embracing alternative business models seems far more useful to me and
the games I'm interested in than anything Microsoft said yesterday.
I'm starting to warm
up to the name and the form factor, but I'm worried what a mandatory, packed-in
Kinect peripheral will do to the system's price. On the whole, a lot of the
features announced for the system – like the PS4 – fall in the
"nifty" category, but don't classify the system as a must-have. I'm
sure when all is said and done, gamers will have plenty of great software to
enjoy on the platform despite yesterday's TV-centric presentation. That said, I
still think Sony's first-party stable of studios is stronger. I'm sure we can
expect a few specialty Kinect and casual experiences to water down Microsoft's
seemingly weighty declaration of fifteen platform exclusives and eight new
franchises in the first year. As far as the used games/online connection
debate, there is still too much we don't know to start casting stones.
Microsoft has some
great ideas for the next generation, but it did a disastrous job of
communicating them yesterday. Most of the negative comments and Tweets that I
read were from people who felt betrayed at the company's focus on TV and
seeming indifference to gaming. This is a video game console, right? Well, sort
of. If you haven't noticed that these boxes are more than simple game systems,
you haven't been paying attention. Microsoft is in a tough position. It's
relatively late in the year for a 2013 hardware reveal, and the company needs
to get people interested in its unique nongaming functionality. People who
aren't keyed into gaming, in particular, who mighty think it's cool to say
"HBO" and have their TV switch to that channel instantly. I'm guessing that
Microsoft bet that a few game reveals (including an appearance from the latest
Call of Duty) would be enough to keep everyone else busy until a major
game-focused E3. That's a bet that they apparently lost. One last observation:
Microsoft needs to get its people on the same page on basic items like "Will
there be a fee added for playing used games?" When people are getting
conflicting reports from various spokespeople – and when a Twitter handle
@xboxsupport3 has to step in for a while – it's a sign that things have gotten
out of control.
Initially I was
disappointed with Microsoft's press conference. I wish it had shown more games,
or at least shown more of the games that it did show. As interesting as the
Xbox One's new TV functionality is, I felt it was a strange way to start a
presentation about a new video game console. It makes me wonder if Microsoft
has lost its focus. The system itself looks great. I love the design and I'm excited about the new
controller. However, I found it silly that Microsoft didn't talk more about the
new controller or the new Kinect. Most of the interesting details about the
Xbox One weren't in the press conference, but had to be read online afterward.
That said, I'm excited to get my hands on the system and play some of its
games. But, if Sony doesn't charge a fee for used games, then I'll be buying a
I leaned toward my
Xbox 360 this generation. In the beginning I think this was a combination of
the system launching before the PS3 and most of my friends being on it.
Microsoft was also smart enough to pack in a headset and let me transfer my
Xbox Live account from its first console, making my go-to system for online
play this generation. But now Sony is taking online more seriously. The company
is including a headset, unlike Microsoft, which is taking the Wii Speak route
and having players use their Kinect to communicate. Sony also appears to be
implementing an Xbox Live style party system. With the PlayStation 4 correcting
its predecessor's mistakes, the gap is closing between the two companies.
However, Sony's impressive PS4 showing could be temporary – we don't know
everything yet. The company could be delaying the more unsavory details,
including used game fees or other hidden tidbits. It's still early, and neither
manufacturer has said much about games for the systems. Come E3 we'll have a
clearer picture, but I'm leaning towards the PlayStation 4 at this point.
consoles on a platform outside of E3 is a brand new world. Even Nintendo, which
has fallen in love with its own Nintendo Direct presentations, revealed its Wii
U at E3. Presenting the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 to the world in an
online stream outside of the conference is a new idea in the world of video games,
and I find myself considering this when thinking about Xbox One's presentation.
Everyone is crying, "Where were the games?" and I can't help that feel that
their absence was a calculated shortcoming from Microsoft. This was purely a
chance to show off the base features and nothing else. E3, a show devoted to
games, is where Microsoft will offer the exciting game-focused bombshells.
Underwhelming is a
word a lot of people are using to describe the event, and I agree with that
sentiment. We got to see the system and the new controller, which is very
exciting, but everything else was blasé. I have a Kinect, but I don't use it,
and I am doubtful that will change. I have a cable box and DVR that I have very
few complaints about, and realistically I don't see myself using the Xbox One
to change channels. Hearing about a new Call of Duty was akin to hearing about
a new Madden. The games continue to be fun, but the next iteration in a yearly
franchise is not exciting. Finally, even as a Halo fan, I don't see myself
watching a show based on the franchise.
The most offensive
takeaway for me is the incredibly confusing messaging about the future of used
games and always online. I can begrudgingly accept the always-online aspect of
the Xbox One considering my current consoles are always online as it is.
However, not being able to simply place a game in my console and play, borrowed
or purchased, is a problem. One of the main reasons I have always preferred
consoles to PCs is the ease of play. Ultimately, I'm not sure what or whom to
believe. Even internally Microsoft doesn't seem to know what it is talking
about. I am willing to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt on this issue as
we learn more, but it's not looking very good right out of the gate.
I know Microsoft is
saving plenty for E3, especially games, but I wanted more from the
presentation. The TV features look nice and all, but they're not a deal breaker
for whether or not I get a system. Games are the deciding factor. One thing
that got me really excited was seeing the enhanced graphics of Call of Duty:
Ghost. The attention to detail that developers can now give to characters
models and environments looks promising. One of my biggest complaints with
graphics currently is that they fail to capture realistic mannerisms and facial
expressions in games. I'm wondering with the superior technology if developers
can get it right in the upcoming generation. As an avid fantasy hockey player,
the ESPN features to track stats and get alerts on players are a nice bonus,
but that's how I feel about a lot of Microsoft's presentation. I just saw
bonuses, not selling points.
I'm personally not
that excited about the Xbox One. The name is fine, the console design is fine,
the Kinect is ugly, but the push to appeal to avid television viewers and
sports fans does not get my blood pumping. The controller looks great, but
Microsoft's priorities don't align with my interest. While it cited gaming as its
"beachhead" for the system, it also framed the power of the console
as getting them that much closer to "playing real life" through
graphical fidelity. I don't care about pores in the skin and imperfections in
Forza cars. I would like to see something new in the gameplay space. That all
said, it is way too early to write off the system, and I'm curious to learn
more about the upcoming games at E3.
Visit our Xbox Reveal Headquarters for complete coverage of today's news.
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Microsoft learned “a ton” from 1 vs 100 about bringing “hundreds of thousands of people together in a virtual game environment and have them play with each other and give away real prizes,” Spencer told OXM. “I think that’s a category that lends itself to our kind of community and interactivity,” but he added no such thing would likely make launch. “We’ll see how our timelines go.”
1 vs 100 was a big hit with the Joystiq staff when it launched in 2010. 1 vs 100 was a weekly free game show played through Xbox Live at a specific time, where contestants could win real prizes. Microsoft pulled the plug in July of that year, though ex-host Chris Cashman was kind enough to produce a goodbye video of sorts.
Are these the designs for Xbox One and PS4 game covers? The images come via the official Battlefield 4 site, where they’re pictured prominently on a couple of pages. They may just be EA mock-ups – no other companies, including Microsoft and Sony, have released any images – but maybe they are the real deal. We reckon they look elegantly crisp.
Update #3: More confusing information has emerged out of interviews after the reveal event. Kotaku spoke with corporate vice president Phil Harrison, who told the site that users will be able to trade games online. He also indicated that the rumored "used game fee" would be equivalent to the full retail price of the game. Additionally, Microsoft seems to be emphasizing the ability to take your games to a friends' house, while stressing that you'll need to be logged into your own account to access your games.
Update #2: Microsoft has provided comment on the used game situation.
"We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games. We’ll have more details to share later."
Update #1: Microsoft reached out to Wired, which has since updated its original piece. According to the recent information, Microsoft has a plan for used games, but it isn't ready to reveal it quite yet.
In an interview with Wired, Microsoft has revealed some much anticipated details about the Xbox One. These tidbits go beyond what we heard at the press conference today, but are in many ways more important to how consumers will interact with the system.
The interview goes into great detail about how users will access game content. Xbox One owners will be required to install games to the 500 GB hard drive, but will not need the disc after that. If a second user wants to access the game (or purchase it second-hand), he or she will need to pay a fee. This is the "other shoe" that many were concerned about dropping when EA announced that it was abandoning the online pass practice.
With regard to an always-online console, the Xbox One will be able to play games offline, but developers will be able to utilize Microsoft's cloud computing, thereby making individual titles require an active, constant connection. Developers have the option of whether to make a connection mandatory, but according to the article, corporate vice president Marc Whitten hopes that they do.
Visit our Xbox Reveal Headquarters for complete coverage of today's news.
At one point, Slant Six Games was apparently working on a Medal of Honor game for PS Vita. Some concept art for the game showed up over on an artist’s portfolio site, spotted by the @supererogatory Twitter account.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter was the latest entry in the Medal of Honor series, developed by EA’s Danger Close studio. Following that game’s poor reception, EA’s Peter Moore announced the franchise is now “out of the rotation.”
Slant Six Games’ last release was the lackluster Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City for Capcom – a spin-off that takes place during the outbreak of Raccoon City, first seen in Resident Evil 2. In April, Slant Six Games issued temporary layoffs, a stopgap measure to help keep interim operating costs down in-between contract work. Slant Six issued similar layoffs in 2010 and after shipping RE: Operation Raccoon City last year.