Xbox One: Concerns addressed?
Why is there so much negative internet noise around the Xbox One? It’s a question with many answers, but the first thing to be established is who exactly has had such a vehement reaction to Microsoft’s launch last week.
Those so quick to loud and raucous noise on the internet would describe themselves as ‘gamers’. They are the people whom believe themselves to be the target of all the efforts of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. These are the people whom are certain that when there is a games console announced that it is for them, that it will be targeted at them, and that it will slake their lust.
This is no longer the case. The Xbox One is not just a games console. It is not just for ‘gamers’.
The TV issue
The Xbox One launch has largely been criticised for the focus placed on the TV elements of the system. By now the popular video condensing the numerous mentions of TV into a less than two minute short has done the rounds in all the regular places.
The issues are clear here: The lack of a games focus during these moments and the clear bias towards the North American market leading to a feeling of alienation elsewhere.
This is an interesting and innovative feature, and given time it may well be a feature which can be enjoyed the world over. Let us hope that this is the case. Right now, to gamers, this is a feature that might be taking away precious RAM from their triple A title.
Speaking of which…
The RAM issue
Eurogamer have a great specs report [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-spec-analysis-xbox-one and http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/df-hardware-spec-analysis-playstation-4] in which they really get into the nitty gritty of the hardware.
The nuts and bolts of this problem is this though: The PS4 has 8GB of GDDR5, and the Xbox One has 8GB of DDR3, only 5GB of which is dedicated to gaming. Not only does GDDR5 blow DDR3 out of the water when it comes to gaming, but the dedication of only 5GB of memory to graphics in the Xbox One would appear to be a mistake to many gamers.
The truth is that until we actually start to see games in action this is an issue on pause. The utilisation of memory and architecture is what is key, and we must rely on the developers to make the most out of the tools that have been provided to them.
The Used Games debacle
On launch day it would seem that an Xbox employee didn’t know the correct way to answer a question, and so the witch hunt and ever changing story began.
Firstly the Xbox One wouldn’t play used games. Then you couldn’t lend a game to a friend, or bring it to their house for a session. Then you could trade games, but there was going to be an exorbitant fee, making the transaction pointless and unattractive. And now this morning there’s new news, which is ever so satisfying.
Apparently a retailer will be free to set the price of the games you buy used, and Microsoft and the game developer will simply take a percentage of that price. This is a good thing for the developer, and this is a good thing for the buyer. Remember though that it will be the retailer to set the price, not Microsoft.
So we will get to trade and buy used games, and we will get to do it much in the established fashion.
The Backwards Compatibility issue
Neither the PS4 or the Xbox One are backwards compatible. Sony seem to be getting away rather unscathed with this, whereas Microsoft are subject to excessive vitriol.
The furore is around the belief that peoples dedication to a console be served forever more in the future of hardware and software development. If you’ve invested a great deal of time and money into a product it’s simply unacceptable to be told that it is obsolete, and that those amazing old games you still play from time to time are no longer supported.
From a corporate point of view this makes some sense. They are building a new product, for a new generation, and new games. But from the gamer point of view this is just one more slight.
Sony have already alluded to some cloud based support for old games, and considering Microsoft are touting the (incredible) server number to be hitting the three hundred thousand mark there may yet be hope for backwards compatible support on the Xbox One.
The All-Seeing Kinect & Always Online
To be fair this was expected.
Microsoft have been driving the Kinect for a couple of years now, and that was never going to stop. It’s an amazing piece of hardware which displays the potential for a lot of fun and great interactivity.
The first popular complaint is that the Kinect is forced upon the buyer, so straight the fear is an increase in price. The Xbox One is a next gen system, and will be priced as such. However Microsoft are a long lived and successful corporation, and have shown in the past the success of a model of competitive pricing and consumer deals in order to win over customers. This is likely to continue.
The next complaint is that the Kinect is always on, and so it must always be connected to the console. This is a killer feature bringing a new level of interactivity to the home entertainment market, and while it’s newness may at first be concerning the ease and convenience which it allows the use to interact will surely be a long term bonus.
The final Kinect issue is whether or not it will be required to play all games. This one is for developers, and we’ll get a clearer picture of the future at E3 in a couple of weeks.
The second part of the overall issue here is the always online requirement. This is still a little murky, but it seems to come down to the Xbox One requiring a connection to the internet sporadically, and likely at least once per system ‘on’ session, in order to function properly. Though it has been suggested that no online requirement exists for single player games or watching Blu-rays/DVDs, implying that this is a system requirement for TV and social services.
If you happen to have a smartphone, a tablet, an Xbox Live account, a PSN account, or any of a myriad of other devices then this is not only a non-issue, but it’s completely unsurprising. As more and more services are shifted toward the cloud, the requirement of an occasional or consistent online connection is understandable.
Where were all the games?
Probably the most surprising element of the Xbox One launch was the presence of only two publishers, touting only two types of games: FPS, and sports.
What we all wanted to see was Microsoft come out with incredible in game footage from an exclusive title so beautiful and enticing that we started saving our cash and dreaming of it straight away. But all that was on display was the new Call Of Duty and EA Sports.
This was not entirely unexpected though, and Microsoft simply announced that the games launches and product details would be at E3. This allowed the focus of the launch to be on the Xbox One console/controller and all of their new sparkly features .
They’re the top issues for gamers, and Microsoft have made great efforts since the launch to clarify confusing elements and assuage concerns.
But there is one final truth to be acknowledged:
The Xbox One is not a bedroom console. The Xbox One is not a gaming console. The Xbox One is a powerful home entertainment system designed to be the centrepiece of your living room.
The target audience is no longer dominated by gamers. The target audience is everyone.