INSiGHT | What is Microsoft's Xbox One - Gaming Machine or Media Monster?

By Adam Riley 22.05.2013 27

The stage was set earlier in the year for Sony to wow with the unveiling of its PlayStation 4, but all that really came to fore was a new controller that looks like a modified version of the same device seen since the PSone days. That then left the door open for Microsoft to stun the world with its successor to the Xbox 360. Did that happen with the new Xbox One, though? Or did the company merely confuse the masses with its ambition to be king of every market? This latest INSiGHT article attempts to take a closer look at some of the information released so far…

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"Microsoft unveils Xbox One: the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system" was the headline of the official Press Release that the UK PR team sent to Cubed3 yesterday evening. However, some clarification was definitely required to understand exactly what is trying to be achieved with this new hardware. After all, the initial messages that were streaming onto forums across the Internet focused on how Xbox 360 games are not compatible with Xbox One, the used games market is to be hit hard, and sharing games with others is looking like becoming a thing of the past.

Everything sounds very glamorous and glitzy when spoken by the public relations team, but then again that is exactly what they are paid for, so it is to be expected. Digging deeper into the spiel, it becomes clear that Microsoft wants to dominate all marketplaces, with plans to make the Xbox One the centrepiece for all people's games, TV content, movies, music, sports, and even social interaction via Skype.

The interesting point is that Nintendo Wii U has all those aspects covered already. Really? Well, yes. Nintendo might not have quite the advertising clout of the US giant, but TVii has launched across some territories already, there is support for the likes of Netflix and LOVEFiLM, there is video chat using the GamePad, and even a karaoke service is hitting Japan soon, with more applications promised in future updates.

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When it is touted that the Xbox One "brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment" perhaps that means the first time ever…for Xbox.

Let us have a look at some of the other aspects revealed. First off, and clearly a big issue for Microsoft since it was a key point right at the start, by simply saying the words 'Xbox On' the system will turn on. The more the personalised Home screen is used, the more the Xbox One learns styles and likes, apparently, most likely picking up on trends in usage and displaying the most frequented areas first upon loading up (TV guide, friends' achievements, most played games, and so on). Interesting idea, but again not exactly revolutionary since "Recommended for you…" is a regular feature of other systems nowadays, especially seen on Nintendo's own eShop. Also, that whole "using your voice" aspect has a little asterisk next to it, with the disclaimer that "Kinect voice functionality only available in supported locales and languages" meaning it is undoubtedly going to struggle with strong accents, something that Nintendo has been trying to overcome for several years because of its Nintendo DS title, Tomodachi Collection that relies on voice input.

What else? "Snap" is the idea of splitting the largest TV is a person's household to multitask on it. It does beg the question of why anyone would want to do that, especially given the example of "jump into a multiplayer battle while watching your favourite movie." Most would rather continue watching said movie before jumping into a gaming session, but the concept works similarly to the Wii U and GamePad set-up, presumably, and if used in the right way could be extremely useful. For instance, bringing up video play-through guides to help during a tough section of a game could be beneficial.

Trending (seeing what shows are popular amongst friends and the Xbox community) and OneGuide (find entertainment easily using voice activation) are not exactly that intriguing either, and if they are anywhere near as temperamental as other voice recognition software out there, then it is going to definitely be far quicker to browse via traditional methods. Just look at what Samsung did with the Galaxy S3 and all the motion features introduced that 99% of people do not ever bother messing around with due to the complexity of getting them to work accurately!

Image for INSiGHT | What is Microsoft

Sadly, a lot of the emphasis went on content that honestly harks back to the days of companies boasting about how many "bits" a console had. Does anyone really care about there being "an eight-core, x86 processor and more than five billion transistors" packed in? Possibly, but it should not be a focus. What system starts to chug along when running a few applications at a time, seriously? The sad matter of fact is that uninformed punters may just fall for that bumf, getting excited that the latest Xbox allows people to "jump between a game and your entertainment at lightning speed, or run a host of apps right alongside your game with no loss in performance."

Then there was the whole song and dance about Triple-A titles on the way, such as a new Forza Motorsport, Call of Duty: Ghosts that is coming to other formats anyway, plus the usual array of EA Sports releases that again will hit other systems at the same time (maybe not Wii U, sadly, though). Better than Sony's big wall of developers and publishers working on the PlayStation 4 without going into specifics, but still not a game changer in any form. Put it this way, Nintendo has nothing to worry about in terms of competition for the family market, despite the inclusion of Kinect in the hardware. Okay, Wii U has stalled out of the gates, but when it comes to selling the likes of Mario Kart, Smash Bros. and a new platform adventure during the holiday period, Nintendo will not be squashed by the competition (Madden and Call of Duty aside, of course).

There was also that strange trend that has become popular amongst Apple's Press Releases in recent years, with Microsoft adopting the slant of praising the form factor of the Xbox One, going on about its bevelled edges, sleek black design, horizontal orientation to support its Blu-ray drive, and so on, thus making it perfect for any décor! Basically, it is a black box that looks like any other black box would. Hide it out of the way like every other console and keep the wife happy is the simple solution. No matter how bevelled the edges are or how slick its shade of black is, having it by the TV in most living rooms is not going to be ideal, just as old video and DVD players are normally shoved out of the way to prevent from being eye-sores.

Xbox One has plenty of potential, but from this early reveal it looks like a lacklustre attempt at Microsoft bullying its way into various other marketplaces, plain and simple. The focus is not on the gamer, more on how Microsoft can try to stop people using other services. After all, that was the end game from day one, with the company concerned that Sony was going to go down the same route, hence the Xbox came to fruition in the first place.

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E3 will certainly be a hive of activity, but with certain quarters actually confessing that the Wii U may be a better "second console" alternative, Nintendo's once hopeless-looking situation may not be quite as bad after the reveal of the Xbox One.

What are your thoughts on the Xbox One so far?

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At the end of the day, it comes down to games and that is why it is too early to "decide the fates" of any of the three next gen consoles.

Right now we don't really have a clear vision of the games we will be getting from any of the three platforms. We don't know what games the XboxOne has in store, beyond a couple of multiplatform ports. We've only seen a couple of the games coming to PS4. While we do know what's immediately ahead for Wii U, we still don't know about the next 3D Mario, next Zelda, next Mario Kart, next Smash, next Retro game, (the real system sellers for any Nintendo hardware) and whatever else is in development.

E3 is going to be huge for all platforms as it will be the time to show off what we'll be playing.

In the long run all three systems will do fine. I think people get too caught up in trying to figure out which system is the "winner". It's really a pointless and meaningless task. If you enjoy playing games on a console, then that console has won.

The X-box One looks like a capable machine, but as far as I'm concerned that press conference was a disaster. 

Also, it brings up issues regarding second hand games, privacy (with a camera watching & recognising you all the time), lack of backward compatibility (with digital purchases as well as physical copies) & not letting Indies self-publish games on the machine. 

Its seems like they're going to focus much more on multimedia given the tone of the conference & the look of the machine (something that won't look out of place next to a DVD player or digi-box). 

In the long term I'm sure it'll do fine though; fans will buy it regardless of any misgivings. 

Trepe said:not letting Indies self-publish games on the machine. 
 

Wait what? I haven't heard anything about this :/

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

justonesp00lturn said:
Wait what? I haven't heard anything about this :/

http://www.shacknews.com/article/79309/xbox-one-wont-allow-indies-to-self-publish-games

What's slightly humorous is that people have been reacting saying Microsoft's indie practices are archaic compared to Sony and Nintendo's.

"archaic compared to Nintendo's", never thought I'd see the day that would be said unironically by gamers.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

One..4..U

It's an extremely overpriced cable box with limited gaming appeal.

Don Mattrick:

If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards

Yes, good idea to insult a good amount of your userbase, well done!

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

SuperLink said:

http://www.shacknews.com/article/79309/xbox-one-wont-allow-indies-to-self-publish-games

What's slightly humorous is that people have been reacting saying Microsoft's indie practices are archaic compared to Sony and Nintendo's.

"archaic compared to Nintendo's", never thought I'd see the day that would be said unironically by gamers.

Well this is downright ridiculous.

Marcus J. Hopkins said:
It's an extremely overpriced cable box with limited gaming appeal.

What's funny is that except for voice control and same-panel multitasking, the Wii U and Nintendo TVii do everything tv-related Microsoft showed and claimed was innovative. Essentially, they made the main talking point of their conference about a feature the Wii U can run in the background. Huge mistake.

SuperLink said:
Don Mattrick:
If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards

Yes, good idea to insult a good amount of your userbase, well done!

I don't understand why Microsoft and Sony don't strive for backwards-compatibility. They would have so many more early adopters if people could sell their current system to shave a few hundred dollars off of the new one, but with no backward-compatibility, that would render those people's (roughly 70 million) entire back library useless, so the vast majority will refrain from adopting the new system at all, at least for a while.

( Edited 22.05.2013 20:21 by justonesp00lturn )

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

justonesp00lturn said:

I don't understand why Microsoft and Sony don't strive for backwards-compatibility. They would have so many more early adopters if people could sell their current system to shave a few hundred dollars off of the new one, but with no backward-compatibility, that would render those people's (roughly 70 million) entire back library useless, so the vast majority will refrain from adopting the new system at all, at least for a while.

It's likely a money saver, the systems' infrastructures are too different to make BC a cheap feature.

However, it's still a feature people want, and insulting the people who want that feature is not the thing you, as someone trying to market something already causing controversy, should be doing to help. Sony didn't insult their users for wanting BC, instead they explained why BC was tough, and added the possibility of cloud-based BC in the future. Simple, right? Sony didn't call their users "backwards" in a kneejerk way.

( Edited 22.05.2013 20:38 by SuperLink )

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Ginko (guest) 22.05.2013#10

Nintendo TVii is shite though, as is low-res movie playback on the GamePad. Nintendo's lame entertainment services cannot even hope to compare to what Microsoft will offer down the line. This device is always on, always connected, it will naturally take advantage of that in a myriad of ways.

cHARLOTT (guest) 22.05.2013#11

Windows 8 will soon play 360 games. I won't be buying an expensive current gen consoles to play old games.

ROLL ON THE FUTURE!.

Here's a list of "features" that have been confirmed in some capacity since yesterday;

  • additional, full price fee for used games or playing a game on another system (i.e. no lending games or renting games, this is something the average consumer does)
    This also means many retailers will refuse to stock the console, the second hand market is very important to them, GameStop isn't happy.
  • terrible indie support, indies don't really like it either
    In fact a LOT of devs don't like it
  • No BC (surprisingly popular complaint) - and Don Mattrick insulted those who wanted it
    with 360 OR LIVE games (i.e. no digital transfer)
  • Kinect that cannot be turned off (big brother is watching you)
  • The fact the TV "feature" for Xbox One isn't even possible without an add-on, and will only be available for US at first anyway
  • No support for non-HD TVs, a serious problem for consumers in countries that aren't first-world
  • Internet connection is mandatory at least once a day, same as above, not even everyone in US can support an internet connection that regularly, the LIVE attach rate is only about 60%, many of those users cannot use the internet regularly, this is an absolutely immense alienation.
  • Super DRM friendly! MS will have total control over the consumer, it's EA's dream system
  • False advertisement; the cheering in the stream was not from press members
  • Microsoft stocks plummet, Nintendo and especially Sony's rise
  • with all the tech, it'll probably be very expensive
  • I've yet to see a professional website with a mostly optimistic view towards it.
  • Japan does not game online on consoles, total alienation of Japanese audience without even trying harder to get it
Some of these aren't as big as others, but you can't deny that a lot of these factors are extremely anti-consumer and backwards. These aren't the kind of things people want, there's no justification for them at all besides a "we want more money" standpoint. If polls are to be believed, the grand majority are very disappointed, Microsoft will need to backpedal a huge amount of these "features" if they want it to be nearly as successful as the 360 was. It's really hard to defend any of this, and that's coming from someone who first discovered the joys of multiconsole gaming through his 360.

Ginko (guest) said:
Nintendo TVii is shite though, as is low-res movie playback on the GamePad. Nintendo's lame entertainment services cannot even hope to compare to what Microsoft will offer down the line. This device is always on, always connected, it will naturally take advantage of that in a myriad of ways.

Nintendo TVii sounds meh, but I don't care about it or TV functions on any system, I care about games and how the system will treat game consumers.
Being always on isn't a strength, in terms of sales or popularity. Not many people worldwide can accommodate such a thing, only particularly wealthy States and countries.

Plus, there are serious privacy concerns there.

( Edited 23.05.2013 01:06 by SuperLink )

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

Ginko (guest) said:
Nintendo TVii is shite though, as is low-res movie playback on the GamePad. Nintendo's lame entertainment services cannot even hope to compare to what Microsoft will offer down the line. This device is always on, always connected, it will naturally take advantage of that in a myriad of ways.

LS, is that you?

And to think 360 fanboys were calling the Wii U "unimpressive"...

( Edited 23.05.2013 01:00 by jcags )

Hellmans (guest) 23.05.2013#15

This guy should work for Nintendo PR.

Spocky (guest) 23.05.2013#16

Errr, PS4 is only backward compatible through the online-only Gakai system.

It's safe to expect Micorsoft, who sold the most platform software last gen, will have it's own online system for playing 360 games. Talk is Windows8 will be able rto run 360 games soon, so why would you even need BC????

Georgio (guest) 23.05.2013#17

Smart Glass has already killed Wii U, there have been 10m downloads and the console isn't even out yet lol.

"Then there was the whole song and dance about Triple-A titles on the way, such as a new Forza Motorsport, Call of Duty: Ghosts that is coming to other formats anyway, plus the usual array of EA Sports releases that again will hit other systems at the same time (maybe not Wii U, sadly, though). Better than Sony's big wall of developers and publishers working on the PlayStation 4 without going into specifics, but still not a game changer in any form."


Haha, what a load rubbish, failing to even mention how it does EXACTLY that with Always On.

Wii U and PS4 will NEVER be able to support gameworlds that are persistent and continually evolving. The Western RPG's will be taking to the next level on Xbox One, while Wii U owners play shitty last gen Japanese RPG's.

Harlow (guest) 23.05.2013#18

Nintendo TVII isn't great, it's slow and cumbersome.

Why so snarky, C3 guests?

Has this article or the members here done something to offend you? That wasn't the intention of anyone I assure you.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

Georgio (guest) said:
Smart Glass has already killed Wii U, there have been 10m downloads and the console isn't even out yet lol.

"Then there was the whole song and dance about Triple-A titles on the way, such as a new Forza Motorsport, Call of Duty: Ghosts that is coming to other formats anyway, plus the usual array of EA Sports releases that again will hit other systems at the same time (maybe not Wii U, sadly, though). Better than Sony's big wall of developers and publishers working on the PlayStation 4 without going into specifics, but still not a game changer in any form."


Haha, what a load rubbish, failing to even mention how it does EXACTLY that with Always On.

Wii U and PS4 will NEVER be able to support gameworlds that are persistent and continually evolving. The Western RPG's will be taking to the next level on Xbox One, while Wii U owners play shitty last gen Japanese RPG's.

Wow, we got a full blown Xbox troll in here. Calling the Wii U dead, Saying its last gen, even talking crap about Sony. Whats this guy's problem?

I just noticed, a lot of guests are coming on here and trolling. Talking crap about Nintendo, saying the Wii U is last gen and dead, why are these people busy with coming on a Nintendo fansite and talking crap about them?

X Box one features:

TV
TV
TV
TV
Skype
TV
TV
TV
TV
Sports
TV
TV
TV
TV
Calladooty
TV
TV
TV
TV
Halo TV show
More TV...

SuperLink said:
Why so snarky, C3 guests?

Has this article or the members here done something to offend you? That wasn't the intention of anyone I assure you.

CrystalMushroom said:

I just noticed, a lot of guests are coming on here and trolling. Talking crap about Nintendo, saying the Wii U is last gen and dead, why are these people busy with coming on a Nintendo fansite and talking crap about them?

Can we just put an end to guest posting? What's the benefit of allowing guests to post anyway?

For me the killer point is that at one point Microsoft will turn off the servers literarily rendering it a useless brick...as you will have to connect to it every day. I really don't care for online gaming myself and rarely ever get involved with it, but to force those who just want to play a single player game to connect at least once a day is just absurd. 

As said in other places what about people with no or very little internet access. 

The TV options (like with fantasy basketball etc) are most likely just for those in the states...but even if it does come across to the UK then does it really matter? I don't really even care for the idea of TVii that much...its a nice to have, but not a reason to buy the console.

The pre-owned game market will be shaken up as you will most likely have to re-buy an activation code of some sort to get the game to work...although i guess users will also have de-activate the game as well from their system?

I am slightly disappointed because i wasn't all too impressed with the PS4 so I was hoping the Xbox One would be a better alternative...but both seem to be a little underwhelming if you ask me. I am not saying that the Wii U is much better but because I am such a fan of Nintendo franchises I am willing to give it a chance.

I will undoubtedly get a PS4 or  an Xbox One...the problem is that neither are really appealing to me just yet...

Gstarry (guest) 24.05.2013#24

Sounds great.  


Nice looking minimal boxes too!

Image for

Georgio (guest) said:

Haha, what a load rubbish, failing to even mention how it does EXACTLY that with Always On.

Wii U and PS4 will NEVER be able to support gameworlds that are persistent and continually evolving. The Western RPG's will be taking to the next level on Xbox One, while Wii U owners play shitty last gen Japanese RPG's.

Any console can have games with constantly evolving worlds, it doesn't need to be always on for that. Whether its an online RPG with the game on the servers or a game disk based game downloading updates in the background.  There's nothing wrong with a good Japanese RPG or western RPG. It's a matter of taste rather than quality and there's nothing to say there won't be a mixture of styles on all consoles.

I can't help suspecting you've been paid by Microsoft to troll Internet sites promoting the new Xbox while discouraging people from buying a competitor. I wouldn't put it past them, they obviously pay people to cheer at the conference. 

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