Xbox One: Love the Tech, But Where’s the Games?

Today saw the official reveal of the Xbox One videogame console, Microsoft Studios’ entry into the next-generation race. This time around each of the three platform holders has made a bold claim for the next-generation, with Nintendo’s Wii U arguing for innovation over repetition, the […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageToday saw the official reveal of the Xbox One videogame console, Microsoft Studios’ entry into the next-generation race. This time around each of the three platform holders has made a bold claim for the next-generation, with Nintendo’s Wii U arguing for innovation over repetition, the PlayStation 4 aiming to push the boundaries of traditional gaming and, according to Microsoft’s Don Mattrick, the Xbox one will become an ‘All in One System’ for the living room.

The highlights of Microsoft’s reveal where the console’s various non-interactive entertainment solutions. Xbox One aims to become your first – and potentially only – source for your television. That’s gaming, movies, music and television broadcasting itself. The ‘instant switch’ feature was showcased alongside automatic user recognition and new gesture controls, as well Electronic Theatre Imageas a ‘snap’ feature that functions very similarly to the Windows 8 equivalent. However, as interesting as this may be it will mean very little to gamers outside of North America, as the television streaming will unlikely be available within the first year of the console’s launch.

The Xbox One is a console that promises to deliver many things for the average household, but at present gaming is not one of them. Despite Microsoft’s clear understanding that the world’s media is watching – and that the coming Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the place to concentrate more specifically on the software – one can’t help but feel that they pushed gaming too far into the corner. Call of Duty: Ghosts, Forza Motorsport 5 and four titles from EA Sports – including an exclusive in the form of FIFA 14’s Ultimate Team – were appeasements for tens of millions of players around the globe, and it was left to just a short sequence of Remedy’s Heavy Rain-aping Quantum Break to appeal to the core gamer audience. The promise of fifteen exclusive titles in the first year was one thing, actually showing them is most certainly another.

Xbox LIVE – now finally set to be reduced to the more palatable print of ‘Xbox Live’ it would seem – is set to get an overhaul, with a boost to the quantity of servers available and a renovation of the Achievements system. What this actually means, aside from the technical advantages, is anyone’s guess. Will online videogames be more stable? Yes, if developers manage to code for them properly. Will friends be able to share content? Yes, but most likely through channels that already exist. WillElectronic Theatre Image online multiplayer be free? No. At least, it doesn’t seem so at present. Microsoft Studios have stated that gamers will be able to migrate their existing profiles, but aside from this nothing has been stated about the immediacy of using the service.

The next step would be to list the hardware specifications, discuss the purported ‘feedback through the analogue sticks’ and talk about the Xbox Television Entertainment deal to make Halo: The Television Series with Steven Spielberg: all big initiatives that will surely drive sales, but with relatively minimal details on exactly what this means for the Xbox One as a gaming platform it would surely be a pointless endeavour. As many may suggest the reveal event was in itself, but to dismiss it so easily would be ignorant of Microsoft Studios’ intended positioning of the Xbox One in the rapidly growing market: this event was all about the world’s mass media. Having learned from Nintendo that there’s a time and a place for everything, Microsoft Studios will surely save the videogames for E3, but until then it’s looking likely that the core gaming audience will be left with a bitter taste.

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