X’ed Out – The Potential Pitfalls of Xbox One
By Keith Andrews
Microsoft’s unveiling of its upcoming Xbox One console was one of the most heavily anticipated events of the year. The system, which will be released in time for the 2013 holiday season, was officially announced on May 21 to an audience that was primed for Microsoft’s first system unveiling in eight years. What those fans took away, though, were more questions than answers.
Many of the basic aspects of the Xbox One were expected because they’re already part of Microsoft’s current console offering, the Xbox 360. The controller is largely similar to its current incarnation, and the popular Kinect device will come standard with the Xbox One. Improvements to the current setup, reported by www.techcrunch.com, include a 500GB hard drive houses saved data, and HDMI and USB 3.0 inputs to make connections to TV and other devices as fast as possible. Like the Xbox 360, the Xbox One aims to be a household media hub; in addition to running Internet-based services, the new system can also function as an advanced cable box using the Kinect-enabled voice recognition.
Impressive technical credential notwithstanding, many people left the Xbox One reveal underwhelmed. For one thing, Microsoft didn’t unveil any footage of actual gameplay, which is the main sales point of any new system. Additionally, the press conference itself was lacking in atmosphere. It wasn’t the type of press conference, unlike say Apple product launches, that gets people excited and raving about a product. Lastly, and most importantly, Microsoft didn’t do a good job of clarifying the many questions people have about privacy and used games.
Heading into the reveal, fans had two main questions about the Xbox One. Neither question was fully answered.
A major concern for gamers was the rumor that the Xbox One would require a constant online connection. According to NBC News, the official word from Microsoft is that the system will be online frequently while in use, but the rumor that gamers must always be online is not accurate. However, gamers will likely never know exactly what sort of information is transferred back to Microsoft, which is problematic due to privacy concerns and the potential for some users to eclipse data caps. The Internet-based vision of the Xbox One may lead to excessive residual costs.
The other question gamers wanted answered is the availability of used games on the Xbox One. Rumors prior to the unveiling stated that used games could not be played on the system and that a gamer couldn’t even bring a game over to a friend’s house. The Verge states that Microsoft allayed these concerns by saying the rumors were untrue, but did not adequately explain how used games would work on the Xbox One. While there is potential for a new and innovative way for used games to work for everyone, there’s just as high a chance of an EA Sports-type tithe on used games.
The Overall Focus
Based on feedback from the reveal, the consensus of the Xbox One is that it’s a system more concerned with dominating your living room that bringing the best video games to life. A YouTube video containing all the mentions of “TV” and “sports” from the unveiling has received more than 5 million hits on YouTube, showing that people truly believe that these are the areas in which the Xbox One will focus. Given Microsoft’s forays into the tablet and smartphone industries, the broad focus isn’t surprising. But the extent of the TV and sports experience on Xbox One may not fully replace cable or satellite. For example, NFL Sunday Ticket is exclusively available with DirectTV, according to www.install-direct-tv.com.
What is surprising, though, is the lack of attention given to the games, the very assets that will sell units this holiday season. After the reveal, Kotaku suggested that Microsoft intentionally led off with a subpar unveiling, attempting to get all the negative information out now with the knowledge that people will buy the system when they see the games. This could be true, but leaving the concerns of customers unresolved is no way to do business. Microsoft will have to become more open with its audience and provide better answers as the launch of the Xbox One approaches.
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