Just 5 days ago, the world met Xbox One, Microsoft’s next console. What the world also came to know was disappointment, rage and confusion, which stemmed from Microsoft’s inability to communicate with the target audience — whichever that was. What went wrong? In this article, I’ll try to give my thoughts on why the Xbox One reveal was so lifeless and unimpressive, and why Microsoft took a step back.
All in One (?)
Touted as the “all-in-one box”, Xbox One’s name stems from this concept. Microsoft aimed for a console that combines everything “entertainment”. But can you really call it the all-in-one console? I think, no, you can’t. Absolutely no backwards compatibility kills this concept for me, as I will have to use a second console to play my Xbox 360 games. At the very least, Sony offers PS4 digital backwards compatibility for the PS3 games — and very, very likely, for what’s also available now at the PS3′s PSN store. I mean, it’s there, why not use it? Xbox One however? It won’t even have its shiny TV (TV, TV, TV, TV…) features available for anyone outside US at launch.
“Next Generation of Gaming”? How?
What has been advertised as the “evolution” and “next generation” of gaming is something that only vaguely resembles these characterizations. Everyone and their cat knows about the drought of games during the reveal, and if we take the talk to the exclusivity area, there’s even less than drought to talk about. Microsoft chose to focus on sports, TV, fancy Kinect features (which, honestly, do more to move me away than lure me in), and talk about the new, refined controller… but not nearly enough focus on where you can use said controller. Next Generation of Entertainment, yes, I’d accept that, but gaming? Not me, folks.
Too much emphasis on the box, and nothing about the box’s “meat”
While it’s important to highlight your new console, you should also be willing to talk about what was used to build it. Generic phrases like “8GB of RAM” were thrown around, but one had to dig deep to find out it’s GDDR3, meaning, steps back from Playstation 4′s GDDR5 RAM of the same capacity. What about its other internals? What about its 80′s design, which makes it look like a brick, or a VCR? Gone is the elegant design of the Xbox 360 and its subsequent redesigns. At least, we can say Kinect 2.0 is now looking as a part of the console, right? Speaking of that…
Too much confusion and backpedaling
“Your Xbox One will require a fee for used games… Wait no, it’s tied to your account!”. This is one of Microsoft’s statements, summarized. One of Microsoft’s many, confusing statements regarding basic stuff about the console, like used games, always-online connectivity (yes, they said it needs to go online once every 24 hours), or even Kinect ever going off. Days after the reveal, Microsoft has a lot of explaining to do, not because they “have to”, but because they’ll lose tons of pre-orders, simply because people would just wait for others to buy the console and find out about the features and share the explanations with the world.
Features pushing people away
Always-on Kinect? Kinect required to use the console? Used game fees? Weaker system? 90% of the games shown were either multiplatform or existing IP’s? What did Microsoft do to lure people in and make them pick Xbox One over the promising Playstation 4? Moreover, what did they do to please gamers, their main, and core, audience? You know the answer.
Vague announcements of 8 new IP’s; 15 exclusives in its first year
Now this point is not too fair; E3 is around the corner, and we all know games will be there. Thing is, what, and how many, games? And of what quality? We already know Quantum Break and Ryse exist, so that makes it 6 new IP’s. The remaining 6 could be Kinect games, for all I know, and I also know Kinect had barely a couple of functional – let “fun” alone for another discussion — games. Why should I be excited for E3? I’ve seen the console, the controller, the main features… what else is there to keep me hooked? While I give props to Microsoft for starting to give exclusives more emphasis, I can’t help but criticize them for their lack of courage to take risks against exclusive-based competitors; Wii U and Playstation 4. Because at this point, and with the current specs, the Wii U is a strong competitor to the Xbox One, as it will have surely picked up the pace by the time it is released.
No lessons learned from Playstation 4′s reveal
What am I looking forward to at Sony’s E3 show? Seeing the console, seeing footage of the already announced games, seeing even more new IP’s, seeing more Playstation 4 features being announced… something I honestly ain’t looking forward to at Microsoft’s show. Sony focused on the controller, because it’s the gamer’s main “weapon”, and not the box that is home to it. On the other hand, Microsoft did the exact opposite, and focused on their entertainment console — as of now, I still refuse to call it a gaming console. Not because it’s not dedicated to gaming, no, but because it puts games way down its list of “to-do”. Sony focused on announcing stuff Playstation owners wanted, or would want to see become available at last. I fail to see who craved an always-on Kinect, in this world of “nothing can not be hacked”, and from seasoned gamers to regular casuals, everyone is cautious about this and some of its other features. Sony was not afraid to be straight about what they said; Microsoft is still trying to keep the mess under control, while Sony is still revealing stuff day after day, preserving the excitement leading up to E3.
Lifeless, uninspiring show
To be clear; I’m against paid crowds that cheer like mad even if the spokesperson says the obvious. But Microsoft, either the crowd was truly not pleased with what they saw, or you did not inspire them to generate any buzz. Of course, I’m not talking about throwing their hats during the conference, but we all know the days that followed the reveal were the opposite of “positive” for Xbox One. Had the show had a positive vibe, I’m sure people would try to see the bright side of it. But people are just being as gloomy as the show itself, and Microsoft is working around the clock to remedy this… I hope.
No opportunities for independent developers
I hate the word indie, but if that’s what you go with, that’s what I meant. Small teams making grand games has become commonplace in the last couple of years, and it seems they’ll all find their console home at Xbox One’s competitors. Microsoft is not known for their artistically impressive or genre-mixing games, something both Sony and Nintendo have up their sleeves for their consoles. Not giving these developers the right to self-publish on their console was one huge, colossal mistake. Being an aspiring developer myself, and having planned to start work on my first game this August, I’m damn sure that it’ll never be on Xbox One or Xbox 360 if it ever goes big. I’ll leave it at that, as I suppose I really have no reason to explain myself here.
I’ve every console, from NES to Wii U. I’d hate to miss out on the Xbox One. I know it will have games (namely, Quantum Break) I KNOW I’ll love. But a couple of games don’t sell a console to me, unless they’re Zelda, Crash Bandicoot (yes, damn it, I said it), God of War, or even a Halo. But seeing almost nothing positive, and no interesting games apart from one (!!!), I’m in the “no buying at launch” and “not buying at all” zones, and I’m damn sure a lot of people are in the same categories. You, fellow Gamesthirstians, what do you see? What do you agree, or disagree with? Let’s hear your opinions!