Is Microsoft's New Xbox The 'One' We've Been Waiting For?

Is Microsoft’s New Xbox The ‘One’ We’ve Been Waiting For?

This week Microsoft unveiled the next generation of Xbox console, simply named One. Throughout the presentation, One was referred to as an all-in-one platform for gaming and entertainment with everything a user could want in the way of gesture control and voice recognition. No doubt, the One promises a lot and we have no doubt it will deliver, but is it truly what we as users want?

Gaming

Let’s start with the core of Xbox origins, gaming. Though we saw little, the previews shown were exquisite. Graphics have never appeared more realistic and game engines look primed to take advantage of the new Xbox One hardware. Expect more from E3 in June along with actual gameplay footage.

Used Games

This seems to be a sore spot as it appears patrons of Gamefly and others will be left wondering for a bit longer if Microsoft has a defined plan for rental discs. As for purchase/trade-in of used games, Microsoft seems to be trying to reinvent the wheel with some sort of licensing program via retail outlets and online. More details on this are expected, possibly at E3 and surely before launch.

Backwards Compatibility

None. Xbox One will not be able to play Xbox 360 or earlier titles. Not surprising, but somewhat disappointing. Titles like Skyrim and other blockbusters will simply be left to collect dust once adoption of One begins.

Profiles

Gamerscores will transfer, again no surprise considering they’re tied to an email account. Digital games however are a no go, which means money spent on digital titles is tied to 360.

Entertainment

If you’re looking for a new cable box, then Xbox One is something to consider. We’ve been fearful that Microsoft’s move to be more entertainment-friendly in the living room would cause a serious downside in gaming. This may have just occurred in the Xbox One. Granted, it’s still early and we have E3 yet to come, but the Xbox One reveal presentation focused on entertainment – no one can deny that.

From fantasy sports with NFL games to live TV viewing, entertainment was front stage at the reveal. Here’s the problem with Microsoft’s path to entertainment, they aren’t providing very much for what they’re asking. Let’s break down the costs:

  • Microsoft is likely to ask somewhere in the neighborhood of $400-$500 if not more for the Xbox One
  • Use of Entertainment Apps require you to purchase an Xbox Live Gold membership at no less than $5/month to access apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and others.
  • Many of those same apps additionally cost just shy of $10 monthly.
  • If you want to watch live TV, Microsoft insists that you have a cable subscription in order to watch it, which as we all know can be hundreds of dollars per month depending on your service level.

To compensate for those endless and partially unnecessary (Xbox Live Gold) charges, users get Kinect. More gestures and voice recognition, in a nutshell. Voice recognition is spiffy, no doubt about it and gestures are fun for about the first 5 minutes. After that, the shine loses its luster and we’re left with constant nickel and dime charges. For the last time – users aren’t looking for another way to access cable, we’re looking to replace it.

Otherwise, Xbox One is the end all be all of entertainment devices thus far.

Operations Q&A

Internet Connectivity

Is it required? Yes. That isn’t to say you can’t be offline for a period of time, but the system must have access once every 24 hours to stay updated. We speculate that this requirement is to authenticate your cloud account and game ownership with your console. Unfortunately, those without a constant internet connection won’t be enjoying anything on Xbox One.

Borrowed Games

Can you have a friend over to play HIS copy of a game? Strictly speaking – No. Playing the game isn’t an issue, but you’ll need to be signed in under your friend’s account. That means, no more leaving the game at a friend’s house to let them try it out for a couple days.

Game Installation

Is it required? Yes. All games must be installed in order to play them. This is a somewhat odd approach by Microsoft though necessary considering the use of blu-ray. Trouble is likely to occur when space becomes limited. Each unit will ship with 500GB of storage, but honestly that’s about half of what should be standard. 1TB isn’t exactly expensive anymore. We’d like Microsoft to rethink this particular hardware option and up the storage space to avoid space conflicts.

Kinect Required?

Yes. Kinect is now an intregal part of the Xbox landscape and it isn’t going away. Kinect itself is fantastic and a marvelous addition to an entertainment box. Whether the Kinect can add rather than detract enjoyment from the gaming side of Xbox One is to be determined.

Final Thoughts

The Xbox One event looked like an E3 presentation, but in reality was a prelude to the big event which starts on June 11, 2013 (Microsoft’s presser scheduled for 6/10/2013). The live Redmond event stood out because of what it lacked, not what it delivered. Lacking were gaming details, games themselves and an overall commitment to loyal Xbox gamers. The very thing each and every console needs in order to survive is its gamer base and Microsoft nearly ignored them.

The Xbox One looks like a state of the art entertainment console, though when you break it down is slightly more than a glorified cable box. The Kinect, TV integration, add-on apps, internet browsing and music player are directly targeted to those who think the Xbox is merely a gaming device. Sounds great in theory except that those same people likely won’t bother to even look at the Xbox One as more than a gaming device. A catch-22 that Microsoft will be hard pressed to get by.

Is it worth the cost? Unknown until we actually see the price point on the One. However, with all the extra fees involved in order to take advantage of all the bells and whistles, it seems highly unlikely (at least at launch).

Final judgment is being withheld until we see what Microsoft delivers at E3 2013. Here’s a tip for the Xbox One team – Bring the games!

Expect a follow-up from us following E3 and in the coming months leading up to the Xbox One release.

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2 Responses

  1. tomin says:

    I think microsoft will make it sure it beats sony PS4 because, its the time microsoft needs some domination.

  2. […] and intrigue gamers. This year much of the surprise was already delivered via pre-E3 events both by Microsoft and Sony which unveiled new consoles from both […]