Xbox One ... Step In The Grave
May 21st 2013 will go down in history as the day gamers the world over could be heard physically facepalming themselves in utter disappointment. It was on that day that Microsoft unveiled their "next gen console," the XBox One. The anticipation for this reveal reached all time highs due to gamers wanting to see Microsoft's response to Sony's Playstation 4 conference. Instead of excitement, a collective sense of confusion and disappointment rang throughout every possible social media network and untold numbers of websites discussing how awful the Xbox One conference was.
Breaking Down The Failure
It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to believe that gamers expected to hear about games at the reveal of a next generation console. After all, the Nintendo Wii U, Sony Playstation 4, and Xbox One are supposed to be video game consoles right? Well, 2 out of 3 ain't so bad is it? Microsoft have fulfilled their original intent when they entered the video game industry with the original Xbox. That intent was to use the Xbox brand as a trojan horse of sorts; to create an Entertainment Hub that would have complete control over the livingrooms of America.
The Xbox One is a very American device, centered primarily on Television and Sports Entertainment. The focus of the Xbox One reveal was nigh completely about Social Networking, Television, and Football and tying all of those aspects together in one device. It's important that we remember that Microsoft considers the Xbox One to be a device akin to smartphones and tablets, and NOT a gaming console the way gamers everywhere expected it to be.
The Xbox One's features will not be available outside of the United States of America, which leads one to believe that Microsoft cares little about nations such as Japan. Traditionally, Microsoft has not met much success selling their console in Japan primarily due to its very Western design and game genre focus.
With the Xbox One, the disinterest will merely increase among those nations outside of the U.S. simply because it is quite clear that the Xbox One is an American console for American society. How else can one explain the Sports Partnerships, the push for Television/Cable integration, and the idea that gamers want more Call of Duty? Clearly Microsoft have opted to think more locally this time around, and it's going to bite them back in the end. Hard.
Putting Gamers Last
Microsoft and the Xbox One have their defenders. The prevailing attitude and opinion among these defenders is to "wait until E3" and that Microsoft "showed what they had to, getting the multimedia stuff out of the way before E3 when they'll showcase games." This attitude is centered around the announcement of 15 exclusive Xbox One first party titles releasing the first year, with 8 of those titles being brand new IPs. But it's time to throw some cold water on the fanboys and hit them up with some truth.
Microsoft has promised exclusives for E3 before, and they delievered.... Kinect and casual exclusives not targeted towards the core gamers. Microsoft are also notorious for having poor E3 showings overall, so their track record does not help them out any. The idea that gamers should have to wait for E3 to see games for what everyone once thought was a gaming console, instead of seeing at least a real effort to discuss games at a console reveal, is a disservice to gamers everywhere and is absolutely wrong.
The Xbox One is being marketed as the one and only device you will need for your own personal entertainment. This is actually not true. To utilize the Television capabilities of the Xbox One, you must have a cable box already. This seems redundant wouldn't you say? The Xbox One is not backwards compatible with the Xbox 360, thus in those early months when there aren't many worthwhile Xbox One games to play, or if you can't afford to buy them, you will have to keep your Xbox 360 to play games with. That is assuming that Microsoft continues to support it.
The Xbox One requires an internet connection. It doesn't necessarily require a constant internet connection, but it does require periodic checks. In an interview between Adam Sessler and Matt Booty of Microsoft, Matt reiterated that the Xbox One was designed around network connectivity and that said connectivity is non-optional. Matt hinted at game modes that "could" be played without the need for a network connection, but avoided answering Adam's question about playing offline directly in favour of a more "official" response that was clearly written for any Microsoft employee to memorize and recite.
The prevailing attitude at Microsoft is that modern devices are always connected anyway, so why not the Xbox One? This mentality further cements that Microsoft have a very limited scope of vision for the Xbox One. A vision that places America, and its trends or fads, first. The rest of the world are less important. So if you don't have internet for whatever reason, then the Xbox One is not for you.
Perhaps the most controversial "feature" of the Xbox One is its used games DRM. All Xbox One games must be installed to the 500GB, non-removable hard drive. The games are then coded to the Xbox Live Gamertag of the installer and the disc becomes useless afterwards. In the event that a user wishes to share the game with a friend or family member, two options are presented.
The first is making said friend or family member play the game on the original owner's profile. Will two devices allow for the simultaneous use of one profile? Unlikely. The second option is that the friend or family member can play the game if they pay an unspecified fee to do so. Gone are the days of sharing games between friends. The Xbox One is about social interaction, but not that kind of social interaction.
All of these anti-gamer features, coupled with a distinct departure from a primary focus on games and the very real possibility of a premium cost when all the partnerships and extra, unwanted features, as well as a continued charge for playing games online paints a very poor picture for gamers the world over.
A No Holds Barred Opinion
It is my personal opinion that the Xbox One is indefensible. The defenders and apologisers of Microsoft corporate policy and the decisions regarding the Xbox One are simply delusional. Gamers shouldn't have to wait for E3 to hear that a gaming console, or what we though would be a gaming console, has games we want to see. Microsoft weren't talking to gamers with the reveal of Xbox One. They were talking to publishers and non-gamers. They are trying to draw in the Apple crowd and don't care that the gamers funded the foundation for their ability to even consider catering to a different crowd.
Microsoft did not show what they need to at the reveal. They needed to show gamers, the early adopters and the platform praisers, that they would not regret purchasing an Xbox One when it launches. In that criteria, Microsoft failed utterly. Forgive me if I have little faith in Microsoft's ability to blow us away at E3 considering that their idea of what gamers want involves yelling at your Kinect, showing nothing but CGI trailers, paying for false applause at their events, and partnerships involving celebrities and flash over substance conferences.
An unremovable hard drive, blocking used games, a required internet connection, a monumental focus on Social Media and Television make Microsoft appear to be the Abercrombie & Fitch of the video game world; targeting a specific American audience of sheep that don't care what they buy but are part of an "exclusive group" of people that Microsoft desperately want to bilk out of their money. How can anyone look at the current state of the Xbox One and believe it will do justice to the desires of gamers based only on a vague promise of "unprecedented partnerships with 3rd party publishers" and "15 exclusive first party titles at E3" when Microsoft's idea of what gamers of the world want are EA Sports and Call of Duty?
How can anyone dare say "wait for E3" when Microsoft has failed gamers over the passed several E3 conferences they've had by showing a fundamental shift in focus from the core gamers that built them, to the casual gamers looking for more Apple like experiences?
How can any gamer worth the name even consider a console that is so anti-gamer worth getting excited for?
Microsoft have failed gamers hard. They don't care about gamers, and come E3 we'll see that what they consider to be what gamers really want is, in reality, more Kinect games that no one asked for. More family games that no one plays. More of a focus on the Apple crowd.
Microsoft has the audacity to claim that this is the direction the world is headed in? Try telling that to the millions who don't have internet, who don't have mobile phones that are always connected, who don't have the bandwidth capable of exploiting heavy, cloud-based services. Don't try to feed us this B.S. and then act surprised by our negative reaction. Gamers want games. Distractions such as being able to see your fantasy football team during a tv show, or looking at a Trending list during a multiplayer match are pointless wastes of resources.
Get real Microsoft. And learn to name your devices better. The Xbox One is not the only device you'll ever need for your home entertainment, so it's name alone is a fallacy.
What do you think about the Xbox One? Is it everything we could have ever hoped for in a next gen Microsoft Gaming Console? Or is it the worst thing you've ever seen take on the appearance of a VCR? Feel free to post your comments below and don't hold back.