I can’t believe how badly Microsoft appear to have got this.
After the PS4 launch all Microsoft had to do for a more successful launch than Sony was,
Show the console
Show some interesting games
Show some cool features
But first, the name, XBox One? If I went into a shop to ask for an Xbox One I’d be told “Sorry, we don’t sell those anymore”. From a marketing perspective I can see why they might go with it. Since they are intent on bringing all your entertainment into one place it sort of makes sense. But in reality it’s ridiculous!
Anyway, show the console? Check!
They talked about hardware specs which sounded ok, but it’s not like I can upgrade the components inside so they are what they are. They promised near silent operation and no repeat of the failure rate of the Xbox 360. If they can deliver that then great. Not something I’d specifically buy one for though.
Interesting games? Meh.
Forza 5 – I’ve never had a problem with the Foza franchise and from a graphics perspective it’s good way of showing the capabilities of the new device but…..it’s not going to make me want to rush out and buy one on launch.
Quantum Break – ok cool, some new IP! But again at the moment not specifically making me want to part with my cash on day one.
Call of Duty: Ghosts – not for me. If you’re a COD fan I guess this might be interesting but I’ve tried other Call of Duty games and it’s not something I can get excited about.
and that was it for games.
“Wait for E3” we were told!
And features! Here are a couple that are of note.
New controller – yep ok. I’ve been pretty happy with the controller I currently use but you can always improve right? But once again I’m not going to go rush out buy a console off the back of it.
TV – Let’s get to it then since this is what Microsoft spent more time talking about than anything else. As it’s been said in plenty of other places Microsoft seem to want to build an entertainment system that happens to play games whereas what the majority of people want (i.e gamers) is a games console.
They talking quite a lot of the inconvenience of having to switch inputs between TV, Blu Ray and games console and how the Xbox One means everything is in one place! Come on, switching inputs isn’t that hard. My kids managed to do it ok and they are seven and four years old! Also if my countries TV system isn’t supported it’s not a lot of use. For me it sounds like a “nice to have” instead of “OMG I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE”.
Kinect – Every console will come with one and you have to connect it. I don’t have a a Kinect for my current Xbox for two reasons. First, my living room is setup in such a way it just wouldn’t work and secondly there isn’t anything worth using it for that justifies the cost! That said, Skype is a big deal for me. We’ve got family the other side of the world and currently to use Skype everyone has to crowd around a PC, Laptop or phone and it’s a bit of a pain. Having a large screen and being able to not worry about being seen is cool. But again in the grand scheme of things this is a “nice to have”. I could quite easily replicate this by hooking up a PC to my TV and a camera just above it.
Cloud / Azure – this could be interesting if developers use it in the right way. Microsoft have an enormous amount of computing power available in their datacentres. Allowing game creators to make use of processing away from the device could make for some interesting experiences. It will likely be some time before developers figure this out though.
So as launch it felt ok. But nothing that made me want to rush out and buy one but it caught my interest enough to wait for E3 and see what was next. Games after all are why want this, despite where Microsoft are obviously trying to take this I want games first. Anything else after that will be a nice bonus.
I don’t quite understand why Sony and Microsoft did the reveals in this way. If you’re holding stuff back for E3 why not just do it all there?
But what really ruined it was how they have dealt with the things they hadn’t mentioned.
There had been plenty of rumours about how the new Xbox would require an always on Internet connection or second hand games would be a thing of the past or how with the required Kinect sensor will having a camera permanently turn on in your living room have an effect on your privacy?
Instead of just coming out with it they talked in very vague terms that only added to the confusion. On top of that different people were being quoted with totally conflicting information. All of this made it very infuriating when you’re supposedly trying to make people excited.
This meant that people were talking about that instead of the launch itself. Twitter, Facebook, forums, gaming sites and blogs were full of people asking for answers.
It appears Microsoft were a little worried about it so last night they tried to clarify some of those points
Always on – your console will need to “check in” at least once ever 24 hours. This is because the discs aren’t really needed. You install the game onto the hard drive and play it from there. It’s a not very obvious way of weaning us all towards digital distribution (games will be available to download on the same day as they are released on disc) and that “check in” mechanism is to ensure you’re playing a game that’s tied to your Xbox account.
Second Hand – Well they certainly scotched the rumour that Microsoft will be taking money for second hand sales. They wont. But the publishers now have the option to. Furthermore that link above has a lot info on how “games licensing” will work. Thing is though a lot of that will be very confusing to the average consumer who just wants to put the disc in and play the game.
Privacy – Kinect will be under your control apparently. You’ll be able to pause Kinect sensing and control what happens to pictures and videos. Also,
When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded.
This was the one page that was actually specific around certain scenarios. (I think, the privacy angle is not something I’d given a great deal of thought to)
This actually hasn’t helped. Microsoft were skirting around the issue during the launch because they knew it might be received badly and I’d say “received badly” will be an understatement.
To Microsoft this may sound amazing but there are people who own an Xbox 360 and don’t have an internet connection at all. There a people in the world who get all their internet access from their phone. A permanent fixed connection isn’t always wanted or needed. As it stands these people will be excluded from Xbox One.
The second hand sales area is what will be frustrating most people however. The key thing is how Microsoft are talking about it in terms of “games licensing”. For many years publishers and consumers have seen games in entirely different ways. Under law you never own the game, you are given a license to use the software but that isn’t how consumers see it. If you have a disc (or cartridge) then it’s “your” game and you can do with it as you wish, even it that means selling it, lending it to a friend or giving it away once you’ve finished with it.
On top of this there is the money side of things. The second hand sale market hits publishers directly in the pocket. They can only ever make a profit from a game sale once. After that however, other people make plenty of profit from it. Stores such as Game can buy and resell that game many times over, making a profit each time. The whole area of the way Game (and other stores) work the second hand market could make an entirely separate post that as lengthy as this one already is but it’s obvious that publishers want a slice of that money.
As I understand it game retailers will need to work with Microsoft to facilitate this system to re-activate the second hand game and pass on the cut to the publisher. If this mechanism is complicated and costly it’ll likely mean big trouble for small independent shops (which will be a travesty if it’s true – there aren’t enough of them about as it is)
Sony must have something similar in mind surely? This will have been asked for by the publishers but if Microsoft are going alone on this then Sony will clean up this generation! If I were a retailer and Xbox has this “baked in DRM” and the PlayStation didn’t then I’d only stock the PlayStation!
In the run up to a console release you need to drive interest and demand for your product. At the moment everything Microsoft are doing seems to be having the opposite effect and Twitter, Facebook, forums, gaming sites and blogs seem to be full of people who are saying they don’t play on getting an Xbox One.
They’ll need to pull something special out of the bag at E3.
After all that, looks like that PlayStation 4 reveal wasn’t so bad after all?