Yesterday, after years of speculation, Microsoft finally announced their next generation console – the Xbox One.
Not to be confused with Xbox 1, the Xbox One is a culmination of Microsoft’s vision of the future. In their mind, the next Xbox is the One device that you need connected to your TV. It’s a games console/DVR box/Digital Media Receiver/Blu-Player/Voice-activated television enhancer/Skype conferencing hub/ …well you get the picture.
While there were many great aspects to yesterday’s unveiling, such as the systems specs, the promise of several new IPs and Microsoft actually showing the damn console (take notes Sony!), overall the presentation did very little to excite me as a gamer. Microsoft didn’t pitch the next generation of gaming, they pitched a “home entertainment system that aims to deliver exclusive media content and brand new entertainment experiences to your home this holiday season”. On the other side of the spectrum, Sony’s main focus appears to be making sure the Playstation 4 is a great platform for both gamers and developers alike. Instead of bragging about timed exclusive map packs, Sony are building relationships with independent developers to ensure that excellent titles such as Thomas Was Alone and Hotline Miami appear on their systems. It’s no surprise that Sony’s stock actually went up during the Xbox One reveal.
So, what did Microsoft do wrong? A lot of things! but for the sake of this article I’ll mainly focus on their 4 biggest offenses…
No Big Game Reveal
In order to be a true success, every console reveal needs at least one title that demonstrates why you must own that system! Regardless of how amazing your specs are or how many WWE apps your system has, fans still need that one AAA game to cling on to even if it won’t be available at launch. Unfortunately for Microsoft, a trailer premier and early access to Call Of Duty maps just isn’t enough. Yes we also saw Forza 5 and Remedy’s latest project but the fact that I’ve already forgotten the title of the latter game goes to show how much of an impression that game left on me. A teaser for the Halo 6 or a RARE logo followed by a Sabrewulf howl would have made a huge difference to their presentation and could have instantly sold naysayers like myself on the Xbox One.
Too Much Focus On Non-Exclusives
“The Xbox has no exclusives” that seems to be the one chestnut that Sony fans always fall back on when fanboy wars become heated. Of course that’s not true, Microsoft has dozens of first party franchises but it’s easy to forget that when the company chooses to focus on Call of Duty and FIFA. Yesterday Microsoft Studios announced that the Xbox One would receive 15 exclusive titles by the end of 2014, so why weren’t some of these titles shown instead of an EA Sports montage or NFL interview? Exclusive DLC is cool but when Sony are announcing new Killzone and inFamous titles, Microsoft really needs to try harder. As E3 is just over 2 weeks away, Microsoft are probably saving all of their big guns for June 10th but with multi-platform titles taking up a huge portion of yesterday’s unveiling, I’m struggling to find reasons why any impartial gamer would choose the Xbox One over the Playstation 4 at this early stage.
Failure To Address Fears
Prior to this unveiling, the Xbox One had a lot of negative buzz surrounding it. There were prominent rumours that the system would require an internet connection to play games, indie devs spoke up about Microsoft’s unwillingness to work with them and we’ve been hearing that Live TV would be a huge focus of the console. During yesterday’s unveiling, Microsoft did very little to address these concerns and in some cases they actually exemplified them. Microsoft later released a Q&A confirming that the Xbox One would not require an online connection and that the system will indeed support used games (at a cost) but with almost half of the conference being dedicated to non-gaming applications it’s hard to shake the feeling that the Xbox One secretly wants to be a Comcast box.
Not Enough Love Outside Of ‘Murica!
Unfortunately for Europeans like myself, many of yesterday’s announcements were for US residents only, at least for now. Shortly after the event Microsoft issued a press release stating “Live TV with One Guide, Trending, and NFL on Xbox will be available in U.S. at launch” with the company “anticipating a global launch over time.” As the Playstation brand is currently towering above Xbox in places like Europe and Japan, Microsoft should be trying to appeal to the world outside of America if they wish to better the PS4 in terms of global sales. Like it’s predecessor, the Xbox One will probably be very successful in North America, moderately successful across Europe and almost non-existent everywhere else.
Of course these are just my own personal feelings less than 24-hours removed from the Xbox One announcement and Microsoft still has plenty of time between now and launch to nullify my initial impressions. There are still several things I like about the Xbox One such as the dramatically improved Kinect sensor and the potential for a next-generation Pizza Hut app but for now I’m just not sold on Microsoft’s vision.