The hype surrounding Microsoft’s new “Xbox One” was palpable in the run up to it’s announcement today in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft were tight lipped regarding everything about the console, playing on the enthusiasm for the next generation, spurred on by the PS4’s announcement some months ago.
It was not surprising then, that the whole gaming world tuned in to see what the future held for the Xbox franchise, and I for one was disappointed.
Except I wasn’t.
The focus of the press conference was exactly what I expected it to be. Less about games and more about features that they planned on cramming into their console. The technology inside the machine was very quickly described, with no mention of the processor inside or the type of RAM inside. One of Xbox’s best features by far is its controller and the new controller has me wondering how it will feel to handle, but as a large man with large hands, I am aware that what I consider to be a “flimsy piece of plastic” may not line up with everyone else but I resent any changes to the current 360 controller.
As well as being light on details regarding the guts inside this very blocky, uninspired design, Microsoft continued their policy of secrecy by not detailing their price point. Speculation beforehand had pointed to a “subscription” console that allowed gamers to purchase a console at a reduced price, but with a substantial monthly subscription. At this stage, I find Microsoft’s lack of information on the price point to be …”disturbing”.
The kinect functionality was also very prominent of course, with Microsoft desperately trying to convince us that kinect is the essence of what the next gen is going to be. As well as it being frequently referenced with regard to the new UI for the Xbox One, we were told that the Kinect unit would be vital, as opposed to very disposable as it is in this generation. Those familiar with the kinect may find this ominous. The Xbox One won’t work without the new Kinect. The other part of the UI to be briefly touched on was the interaction with “Smartglass” which I tried once and found it to be gimmicky to the point of me almost rolling my eyes out of my head while thinking “Oh Microsoft, you jokers!”
Ok. So the reason we actually tuned in. Do our achievements carry over? No idea. Now Shh. A man you’ve never heard of is telling you about the new UFC game.
Ok, but seriously, what the hell is going on with our beloved games industry when we are rewarded for tuning in to see the new face of one of our favourite brands with EA sports’ press release saying…
“Yeah, we’re doing Fifa, Madden etc, plus we’ve added UFC.”
It was at this point I got up, disgusted with Microsoft. They’d essentially just said to me (and what I assume are many gamers) that this console is NOT FOR YOU. It is for the “Dude-bros” who only play COD, Fifa and any other annually released rehash of the previous year’s game.
Of course, the games are why we as gamers are excited about the new Xbox. It was because of this that I stuck with the press conference, eagerly waiting for some exciting new exclusives to wipe away the first 35 minutes of the announcement. That’s right, 35 minutes before games were brought up. What we were given after this wait was underwhelming to say the least. A combination of the “Well Duhh!” titles such as the EA sports games, Forza 5 (the Xbox’s premium racing brand) and “Call of Duty, Ghosts”. The only stand out game was “Quantum Break” which was one of the touted “15 exclusive titles to be released in the next 12 months for the Xbox One”. Sadly the trailer for this game was half live-action and the other half was CGI.
In the end, this announcement was something of a damp squib. A lot of pomp and ceremony to announce the console that the cynic in me was already expecting. With a focus on making the Xbox One the “All in one” entertainment system and with games being presented as an afterthought, it looks like Microsoft’s focus may not be on the core gamers that they raked in with the Xbox 360.
Maybe this year’s E3 holds a myriad of surprises. With 15 exclusives confirmed for the first year of the Xbox One’s release and 8 being brand new I.Ps, the ball is in Microsoft’s court. So far, we don’t know that much about the PS4’s range of exclusives but Sony’s press conference highlighted their desire to make it easier for third parties to make games for the PS4. This leaves the door open for Microsoft to surprise us all with some impressive titles.
Plus, I think we’re all done waiting for a sequel to Condemned 2, right? No?
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