So. Xbox One. Cool name, shame about the console.
First of all kudos to Microsoft for keeping the name a total surprise and for coming up with a name that signifies the fact that its a unified entertainment hub and, on a psychological level, makes PS4 sound old.
Also kudos to Remedy for Quantum Break and showing the only interesting thing of the entire reveal.
Now onto the reveal.
First of all the console is ugly, which is surprising because the current model Xbox 360 looks better than the Wii and the PS3. Sadly the One is an ugly, angular brick that resembles a VHS player more than a games console. The controller at least looks good and I'm sure of all the current gen (Wii U, PS4, One) it will be the best controller in terms of how easy it is to use. So right from the outset first impressions are mixed.
Then came the big issue. It took half an hour for a game to be mentioned. The Xbox One will allow for live TV, lots of entertainment features like internet browsing, a bigger friends list, improved Kinect, the ability to instantly switch from TV to games in a second etc. etc. Oh and a Halo TV series, cool but where’s Halo 5? Since the Xbox launched Microsoft have said that they wanted the living room but was I wrong to presume games would always be the dominant focus? Apparently I was because its clear that Xbox One is about entertainment first, games second. Sadly I have a smartphone and a Mac and a PC for web browsing, I have a TV for watching TV and I have a DVD player for watching films. So the entertainment side of the console is useless to me.
Aside from this there will be Blu Ray discs, which is good but games have to be installed and the HD is only 500GB, which is bad when you consider each game will take up about 20GB. By the time you’ve got a respectable library of games as well as some films and music you’ll have found out that your HD is way too small. Oh and you cant replace it. Nice one Microsoft. You can buy external ones but this is an ugly solution. Also if you want to play a game on someone else’s system on their account you’ll have to pay for the game, full price, again. This is an awful idea, one I'm glad Nintendo and Sony aren't replicating because I cant afford many brand new games so without the used game market I cant really play. Also, the amount of games I've lent or borrowed that have led to a purchase is ludicrous, why remove this free form of advertising? On top of this we are still unclear if always on is required so who knows? They mentioned the cloud a lot, so they did imply an always on connection, the thing is they didn't mention any benefits so we are really in the dark here and the news could be very bad.
The other big worry is the power, we don't know how fast the processor is and this sheepishness probably means its not as good as the PS4’s. Similarly we don't know if the ram is GDDR3 or 5, so it could be weaker than PS4. This isn’t the be all and end all but it does mean that all of those multi-platform games you like will probably look and play better on PS4.
One way to solve these problems would have been to give a release date and price which, although I wasn't expecting, would have been nice. Sadly we didn't get this. We did get more Kinect though. Now look, I know Kinect is successful but the few hardcore games there are for it don't interest hardcore gamers, we want to use controllers, not be the controller. Also the hardware for the Kinect 1 simply does not work well, so whose to say it will for Kinect 2? Kinect is something few people want but Microsoft focus on, this needs to stop. Soon.
When we finally did get games we got EA Sports games and Forza 5, so all sports. The games all looked great and I'm sure if you like that sort of thing then you'll be excited but, in the grand scheme of things, the sports market for games is not the be all and end all. They needed more variety. Quantum Break gave us that and looks great but very little information was provided and many, including myself, would have preferred to see Alan Wake 2. I know this goes against the whole “we want new IPs” thing but what we want is both going hand in hand and, when your other games announced are so dull, you need a big name to prop yourself up on. Then we got the world wide premier of Call of Duty: Ghosts, which isn't exclusive and, despite first access to DLC etc. is not enough to propel a system. Ghosts looks pretty but where Treyarch took the series to new heights with Black Ops 2 I doubt Infinity Ward will. I think they will play it safe and this worries me. The game could be great but it'll more likely be a cash cow.
So clearly the emphasis with Xbox One is multimedia not games. I know games are coming at E3 and there will be a lot of great ones but the reveal of a console acts a mission statement and Microsoft's mission is no longer about creating games consoles. This is why ill be getting a PS4 to sit alongside my Wii U.
Oh and do you want to enjoy indie games? The games that really make our industry interesting? Buy a Wii U or PS4 then because Microsoft wont support them with self publishing because stubborn Microsoft is stubborn.
I probably sound pissed off. Thats because I am, I loved the 360 but I saw it decline in recent years with the focus shifting to multimedia and I hoped Microsoft would right this wrong but they haven't.
So what would I have done? Well...
I would have opened the whole thing with a trailer for Halo 5. Then given a release date for it as a launch title then shown the console. Then I‘d have shown a teaser for Gears of War 4 with a 2014 release teased. Then I’d have announced Fable 4. Then I’d have shown Forza 5. Then I’d have done your multimedia blah blah blah and your Kinect stuff. Then I’d have shown Ghosts, then the EA stuff, then I’d have shown off Quantum Break but also teased Alan Wake 2.
A new IP.
This its the thing, where Nintendo revolutionise old franchises alongside a steady stream of new ones and Sony blast out new IP after new IP Microsoft just seem to be growing stagnant. They could have used this to show something fresh and interesting but they didn't. Clearly they are going for a wider market, not just gamers, with this console but, in the process they may lose the gamers that the Xbox brand is built upon.
There is one ray of hope though, Microsoft have promised 15 first party exclusives in the first year of Xbox One, with 8 new IPs (one of which is Quantum Break). This doesn't affect how poor the reveal was but its a glimmer of hope. Of course they could all be Kinect games which would be terrible so I won't get too excited.
Ultimately the reveal was a total bloody disaster and thats coming from a Microsoft fan. I dread to think what anti-Microsoft fanboys think.