Tuesday brought Microsoft’s long-awaited riposte to the PS4 and it goes by the horrendous name of Xbox One. Microsoft, however, was not content with only the name being a disappointment, and over the next hour, proceeded to cement that gamers should really just avoid the Xbox One entirely. The event was not without its share of humor though. My favorite part was when Don Mattrick (who is surely on a list of sex offenders somewhere) said that the Xbox 360 was leading in sales, which must mean the PS3 and Wii no longer exist since both consoles trumped the 360 in sales. Aside from the humor, the rest of the event was quite disappointing.
What was initially the most controversial rumor, the always on internet requirement, ended up being a bit of a stretch, at least for now. The Xbox One will not require a constant internet connection at launch, but it will need to connect at least once a day. It is easy to imagine that later in the life cycle of the console an internet connection will be required, especially since Microsoft is aiming to future proof the Xbox One. Their thinking is that while it is impossible to improve the hardware on a console after release, it is possible to use the cloud (another buzzword that was used in nearly every sentence during the event) to handle computations that are too complex for Xbox One’s “revolutionary” hardware. Of course, unloading more and more computations to the cloud will eventually result in the constant internet connection that many fear.
While Microsoft dispelled the internet requirement, they did reaffirm a fear for many gamers. Once a game has been installed to the Xbox One’s hard drive, it will be locked to the Xbox Live account of the person that installed it. People who want to purchase a used game will now have to pay an undisclosed fee to Microsoft in order to play their previously owned purchase. Another issue with having to install all games to the hard drive is the announced size of five hundred gigabytes. With three operating systems and a mountain of entertainment bloatware, Microsoft has already conceded that the “Xbox One system software uses a significant amount of storage; less internal storage will be available to users.” To pile on, the hard drive will also not be user-serviceable and I would wager that it will be towards the lower end of read/write speeds. To Microsoft’s credit, external hard drives will be able to be connected through a USB 3.0 port and function exactly as the internal drive does.
The third pedophile to hit the stage (Marc Whitten) spoke highly of the updated Kinect that will now be forced upon all consumers that purchase the new Xbox. According to Microsoft, the Kinect has been updated to make it easier than ever to use, which is not saying a whole lot. Improving the Kinect was a necessity as it appears to be used for everything, not just to make a gamer look like a moron waving their hands at the TV. With the Xbox One, gamers now have the ability to shout random commands at the Kinect to go along with new hand motions that look even more ridiculous than before. Leading up to Xbox One’s reveal, Microsoft was not shy saying that Kinect would be a huge part of the console, and after the event, it appears that the goal is to exclude the controller while not playing a game. It also would not be a surprise to see Microsoft attempt to push Kinect exclusive features in multi-platform games, much the same way Nintendo attempted with the Wii U’s tablet.
After using all of Tuesday morning to disappoint gamers, Microsoft decided that Wednesday would be the indie developers day to experience their own disappointment. While both Nintendo and Sony allow indie developers to self-publish their titles, Microsoft announced that their indie publishing policy would remain unchanged. Currently, indie devs are locked to either sign a publishing deal with Microsoft Games Studios or a utilize a third-party publisher to get their games on XBLA. Indie devs are able to self-publish using Xbox Live Indie Games, however there are financial drawbacks to using this service as opposed to the much more popular XBLA. Microsoft has received its fair share of criticism from indie developers for being so difficult to work with, and it does not appear that this will be changing anytime soon.
Microsoft fans have been waiting impatiently since February for the Xbox One reveal. To almost completely forsake their fans in the very event they made possible is the building blocks to a betrayal nearly equivalent to what Nintendo did with the Wii. Gamers across the USA and Europe were excited to see what Microsoft would be bringing to the table in terms of gaming experience enhancements. Instead, they were treated to nearly an hour of jackasses talking about how the Xbox One is a Roku that can also play video games. The most important thing in terms of gaming that was announced (besides dogs being in the next COD) was that the Xbox One would have fifteen exclusive games in its first year. I will be shocked if more than four of those games are not FPS titles.
In one hour-long event, Microsoft disappointed the overwhelming majority of their fan base. They have promised to talk about games at E3, but it is clear that games are about the last thing on their mind with the Xbox One. There are still Xbox fanboys out there that cling to the idea that E3 will make everything alright, but if those are the only people that purchase the console, Microsoft will be looking worse than Nintendo in a year. Last generation, Microsoft was the first to the party and still finished last in sales. After Tuesday, it looks like a very good bet that they will be bringing up the rear in sales once again.