XBOX One – Tonedeaf

There are quite a few articles about reactions to the XBOX One reveal and, by and large, reaction has been negative.  Now that we’ve had a few days to digest what was and was not said, here are a few sticking points for people to consider.

It is generally agreed that the mobile/indie market is currently booming.  The average consumer is more and more device agnostic and will consume content on phone, laptop, tablet or console without real prejudice.  TVs are tools that only a single user can control and they are far from personal.  If I want to watch a movie and not bother my wife, I’ll use our tablet, for example.  Ok, we got that part.  Now watch this clip that shows all the times the words TV, Sports and Call of Duty were used in a 1 hour period.

Back?  Cool.

Let’s consider for a second what the XBOX core market is, the ones who are paying 15$ a month for services.  That’s right, gamers.  They aren’t paying that money to view adds, to use Kinect, to stream media.  The entire core structure of the XBOX community, the ones that actually tuned in to the presentation, they are all gamers.

Microsoft instead chose to demo voice activated controls, TV Skype (who in the world would use that?), football stats and streaming for nearly 40 minutes.  Content that no one who was paying attention cared two bits about.  I should add that the TV streaming controls will only be available in the US, which if memory serves correctly, is less than half of their user base.  Gamers got to see a new dog in Call of Duty.  Yay?

The real questions, the ones that have been around in rumors for months we either dismissed or confusingly answered.  Here’s what I’ve been able to find.

Does the console require internet access?  Yes and no.  You need to connect to the internet every 24 hours.  I have a few friends that will be unable to accommodate this as their only option for internet is satellite.

Can it support used games? Yes and no.  Games are installed and attached to a user account.  Transferring games will have a fee – to be disclosed.

Is is backwards compatible?  Not at all.  I get this from the console disk perspective.  I don’t get this from the XBLA portion.  This is also a massive gamble that the games that will come out will be worth buying a new console.  WiiU learned this lesson well.

How much will is cost? No idea.

What games can I play? Wait until E3.

How will it support the indies? Oddly enough, it will get worse than compared to the 360.  Devs will be unable to self-publish (they can on the PS) and additional controls will be added to the new XBLA market – effectively making it harder to get games out.

What kind of power does it have? The architecture between the XBOX and the PS4 are nearly identical, meaning that designing a game for one console will be practically the same as for another – a good thing for gamers.  That being said, the PS4 is 33% to 50% more powerful.  This isn’t hidden power like the 360 vs. PS3, this is readily accessible power.

Does it still have a subscription when every other option is free? Please note that the PS service is free, 95% of every home media service is free other than the hardware cost and every “cloud service” for gaming is currently free.  Microsoft has been mum on this.

Can I play games instantly? Apparently yes, since the system is “always on”.  (Having a Kinect camera always on in a room is a problem for me.)  When you get a new game, pop it in, you can play right away while the game installs a hard copy.  Once installed you no longer need the disk (just like a PC).  Extremely confusing is that the HDD is 500 gigs.  With my experience with Microsoft products, you’re going to be lucky to get 400 free.  You need that 400 to control all streaming content, other downloads, PVR support and a pile of other features.  500 gigs is not “future proof”.

Conclusion

After reading everything I could find on this, I am left with the conclusion that Microsoft is hedging their bets that consoles are dead and that media centers are the way of the future. They somehow believe that Kinect, being always on, is a good thing in a room with more than 2 people.  They believe that the TV (a single one) is the center of entertainment in a house.  They believe that people have 50+ inch screens to multi-task while watching a movie or TV.  They believe that games will sell on their own.

I think the price point here is going to be the real answer.  If the XBOX One turns out to be a fancy remote control for TV, what are people willing to pay?  Even if E3 showed 10 amazing games, I personally have yet to see a reason to upgrade.

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