Written by AK_the_Twilight
Microsoft needed to one-up Sony by offering a steady stream of games that you simply couldn’t find on Playstation. This morning, Microsoft dropped the curtain on their 360 successor. It was a revelation not only of the hardware, but of Microsoft’s vision for the gaming future…
…or should I say, lack thereof.
The Xbox One reveal was saturated with meaningless and culturally exploitative information catering to the most mainstream of mainstream video game player. It was bad.
Xbox is a name synonymous with video games, but Microsoft swept that concept far under the rug.
Promoted as the unifier between TV, music, movies, social media and games, the Xbox One was Microsoft’s way to capitalize on every entertainment format available right now, all condensing it into a package that fits perfectly in the living room. It remains resonant, a grandiose defragmentation of media that can deliver content from multiple fronts while simplifying the interface into a box reminiscent of a modern DVR. It’s nothing too sensational and from that perspective, it works. But this wasn’t a showing for those who watch Star Trek or The Price is Right religiously. Xbox is a name synonymous with video games, but Microsoft swept that concept far under the rug.
One problem that I discovered early on is that the interface looks as clumsy as Kinect did years ago. Microsoft wants people to like Kinect, going so far as to bundling the Kinect 2.0 with the Xbox One console. It’s a standard feature now, but that doesn’t mean it works. With the motion control fad dying, it’s concerning seeing Microsoft continue to push Kinect. Even switching channels looks wonky and unappealing; why not just use the remote control like we’ve been doing for decades now? It’s something out a sci-fi movie like Minority Report, only mixed with interpretive dance.
But Microsoft’s presentation’s biggest blunder was the sheer alienation of the gamer culture. Aside from three major game announcements (excluding the EA Sports lineup), the entire presentation was about the console’s place as an entertainment system instead of a gaming system. Yes, being able to instantly go from live TV to a game is an interesting technological approach, but it’s a novelty and I highly doubt that it’ll become as front-and-center as a future game industry standard. Smartglass and Kinect navigation (auxiliary features that very few consumers truly consider to be essential) were promoted far more than they should have.
At this point, Microsoft hasn’t done anything to promote the Xbox One in the right ways.
Even worse was that the games announced were in no way a decision maker. Call of Duty: Ghosts, for all its hair textures and dynamic fish AI, is a Call of Duty game. It’s a multi-platform franchise that might see increased sales on an Xbox platform, but it doesn’t serve the Xbox market in such a huge way as, say, Halo would. You can get Call of Duty on PS4, and even with the title of “exclusive first on Xbox One”, it’s not something to get people to buy your console for it specifically.
Yes, you do get Forza and you do get your EA Sports garbage, but the only game that I could say I’m really interested in is Quantum Break, a game developed by Alan Wake dev Remedy. It looks cool, yeah, but with only a brief and cryptic trailer, I couldn’t get too excited over it.
Once I heard them start wrapping things up, I couldn’t believe what I had heard, or more appropriately, what I didn’t hear. For a console line so enamored with promoting deep and expansive video game content, Microsoft demonstrated a vision that only alienated the gaming crowd that praised them so much last generation. I know that we’ll see more at E3, but right now, I’m not even excited about Microsoft’s showing at E3 this year
But the news trickled out steadily, revealing even more questionable announcements. Mandatory installs, fees to play used games and no way to play 360 or 360 XBLA titles added even more facepalms to an already groan-worthy showing. While other games have been formally announced for the console, many of these are multi-platform like Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Destiny. These aren’t the ways to gather consumer confidence. Microsoft may think it’s innovating, but with each innovation, they’re stepping away from the video game world. If anything, the Xbox One is a “bro” or “Chad” console, a stereotypical game console that you’ll see in movies and TV ads with generic shooters and online play without a trace of dev creativity.
At this point, Microsoft hasn’t done anything to promote the Xbox One in the right ways. Fears of Microsoft’s Draconian restrictions on second-hand games have been realized, their neglect for the smaller development houses has been shown without any doubt, and every negative opinion that I’ve heard the game journalism crowd say has been met with some form of truth. I do think it will sell, but to the people who don’t value those true gaming experiences.
All I can say now is bring on E3. I’m gonna need something to wash this terrible taste out of my mouth.