Well, THAT didn’t take long! In fewer than a dozen hours the XBOX One reveal went from being exciting … to a disappointment. Over at GameIndustry.biz they are already calling the reveal of the XBOX One an ‘awful start’, and discussing how Microsoft needs to redeem itself at E3. Of course, leave it to Ctrl-Alt-Del to joke about how Sony hasn’t even figured out how to assemble their new console yet!
Rather than pontificate on that sort of stuff, I wanted to address 5 areas of concern to me as a PC gamer:
- No Backwards Comparibility: what is a huge reason for easy early adoption of a new console? The ability to play existing games. Even Sony gave the PS3 backwards compatibility with PS2 games for a short time before yanking it to save money as they dropped price. Microsoft worked hard at bringing XBOX games to the XBOX360. But when you get an XBOX One, you lose the ability to play old games. Oh, unless you keep an XBOX360 connected to your TV, along with another remote and switch cables all the time … y’know, exactly what the XBOX One was supposed to END?
- No XBOX Cross-Platform Multiplayer: in perhaps the most nonsensical statement of all, we heard “Because of the different architecture of the systems it’s not possible. Your Xbox Live account on 360 will carry over to Xbox One. That same account will work on both platforms. The multiplayer won’t.” Um … sorry, not buying it. We have Mac/PC multiplayer, X360/PS3 multiplayer … yet they can’t wrangle XBOX One to X360 multiplayer? Again, sounds like an artifical excuse to force people towards the XBOX One.
- No Used Games: the current corporate mantra is ‘all games are installed’ and attached to your account, and if a game is inserted in another XBOX One, that user will have the option to PAY to gain access to the game. No secret developers and publishers want to kill the used games market, or at least monetize it. But please don’t patronize me by pushing it as a BENEFIT!
- No XBOX Live Arcade: this is partly the same as backwards compatibility, but in this case Microsoft loses the ‘hardware platform’ argument. XBLA is a virtualized environment, and apparently Microsoft has chosen not to bother porting it to the XBOX One. This means existing games aer dead and nothing new will come – killing yet another stream.
- No Indie Gaming: While the limited channels (ok, ONE) for indies to get games on the X360 is a hassle, there have been successes – but more folks have success elsewhere. Unfortunately, the XBOX One doesn’t offer even that level of capability, leaving XBOX gamers with only approved retail games as their source.
And while ‘used games’ carries a bit of a loaded connotation, imagine this scenario: your teen child is having a sleepover and each friend attending is asked to bring their favorite video game to share. Currently, no problem … but that possibility will cease to exist in the XBOX One world as currently described by Microsoft.
But the big feeling I have heard repeatedly is that of a sense of hubris on the part of Microsoft that has gamers feeling abandoned, similar to what Sony did with the PS3. Do you remember THAT debacle? The entire Sony reveal was about being the entertainment of your home (sound familiar?), starting with the Blu-Ray player for movies and games and the ability to do other media stuff … and, oh yeah, games too.
The assumption was that after the PS2 Sony OWNED the games market, so they could simply define the pricing and gamers would just buy one, and by having Blu-Ray they would gobble the market of non-gamers. Now we have Microsoft assuming that anyone who likes the XBOX360 will just see ‘better gaming specs’ and buy it, and everyone else will see the media stuff and want one as well.
More to the point, at the same time Microsoft made a huge deal about how well it will work with your cable box and integrate with everything else in your media setup … but nothing about how it would streamline the media experience for the core gamer. In fact, many have noted that it feels more like a competitor to Roku and Apple TV than the PS4.
What do you think?