Commentary: Xbox One Reveal

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleI’ve been trying to stay on top of things with the latest on Xbox One news, and it’s been difficult with certain life obligations getting in the way, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading and I’ve seen a lot of opinions on Microsoft’s upcoming console.  Positive, negative, neutral.  Something that seems to be pretty uniform, though, is the disappointment about the reveal event.  “Where were the games?!”  Everyone is asking.  Well, Microsoft answered that question even before the event took place.  The games are at E3.  The May 21 reveal was supposed to be about the system itself; they were pretty clear on that from the beginning, and it’s pretty ignorant to complain about the lack of games when they were upfront about what the reveal event would cover.  We got an Xbox One reveal–the next generation of Microsoft gaming is within reach.  With the hardware reveal taken care of, now we can focus on games in two weeks at E3.

Now that I’v got that rant out of the way, what are my thoughts on the system?  Well, it’s hard to say.  I’m almost positive that I’m going to buy the Xbox One at launch, but will I have the same enthusiastic dedication to this new iteration as I did to past Xboxes?

I’m never shy about admitting my fanboyism.  I love the Xbox.  It has the games I want, the system’s interface is user-friendly and intuitive, the online community is excellent (and when it’s not it’s just a simple button press to forever silence someone), and it works the way I want it to.  I’m also not shy about being vocal about my disappointments with the system over the past several years.  We’ve been starved for new IPs and exclusives, and we’re drowning in Kinect shovelware.  It’s been a pretty rough twilight for the 360, but I’m still a loyal customer.

With the Xbox One, it’s a whole new story.  They’ve got an internet connection requirement for every 24 hours for the system to operate, is attempting to curb used game sales by requiring a fee for additional user accounts to access a game, has an extended focus on everything not games, and is downright ugly.  Some of these things I can live with, but can everybody else?  Are the risks Microsoft taking with the Xbox One going to pay off for them, or will this system’s life be cut short due to the restrictions they’re putting on their customers?

Xbox-One3

Most of what we’re coming to know about the Xbox One has been expected.  We’ve been hearing rumors about an “always-on” system that attempts to block used game sales, but we were all hoping that these rumors would turn out to be unfounded.  In our modern time, it’s almost a given that you’ve got an internet connection at home, so what’s the big deal about a system that requires a connection every 24 hours?  Well, what if you don’t?  I’m not really living in an ideal area for a decent internet connection.  I’m not exactly financially stable.  How can I be certain that I’ll have an internet connection for the system by the time it releases?  I can’t be.  I’m primarily a single-player gamer and the fact that I’ll need to have an internet connection to play the games I want to play seems like an unnecessary restriction to force upon gamers.

The additional fee does and doesn’t bother me.  I don’t buy used games.  I refuse to.  So, for me, this isn’t a big deal since I’m going to be paying full price anyway.  However, I do like borrowing and lending games.  From the sounds of things, if you’re not logged into a system, then your buddy isn’t going to be able to access your game.  This seems to rule out lending unless you’re going to lend yourself out, too.  This is ridiculous.  Microsoft said something about incorporating a trading system in the future which will allow gamers to trade their titles with friends over Live, but they said this is something their “working on” and, as such, it’s safe to assume the feature won’t be available at system launch.  It would be nice to have a “lend” feature if you do decide to let a friend borrow a game; a feature that disables the game on your account temporarily and activates it on your friend’s account thereby giving him or her access to the game you own.  Will it happen?  I don’t know.  If it did, would it be a completely unnecessary hurdle to jump to enjoy a buddy’s game without having to go out and buy it yourself?  Absolutely.

Those are the big negatives I have against the system so far.  And they’re pretty big.  While I might be able to live with them, how will the rest of the gaming world feel about them?  My guess is:  not very welcoming.  I’ve got the feeling that a lot of dedicated Xbox users will be migrating to Sony’s platform if it can promise gamers traditional console experiences without all of these ridiculous restrictions.

QuantumBreakSo, why, with all of that, would I still be willing to buy an Xbox One?  Because it’s still going to have the games I want, the service I love, and the controller I find to be the most comfortable (just so you know, I love the controller redesign; it looks sleek and comfy).  I’m dedicated to the universe of Halo, I’m looking forward to the next game from Remedy Entertainment because I’m a huge fan of their past creations, I’m dying to see what Crytek has in store with Ryse or if Rare will make a comeback as a AAA game developer (instead of a Kinect pusher working on Avatar clothes).  Microsoft promised 15 exclusives in the first year alone, and I’m excited to see what they have in store.  I love Xbox Live–it’s an amazing service that is constantly defining what I expect from an online community service.  The features they showed off with the fluid app switching and multitasking was impressive and something that I’m sure I’ll use liberally.  Sure, one can argue that the Xbox One is basically a controller-operated PC, but is that really a bad thing?  As long as RYSEthe flashy features don’t get in the way of what really matters–the games–then I’m okay with having an all-in-one box.  The convenience of it all is something worth having, just as long as I get my games, too.

I am questioning the decisions Microsoft has made with the Xbox One, and I’m certainly not pleased with all of them.  I’m not embracing the system with the enthusiasm I thought I would as a dedicated fanboy, but I’m still looking forward to having one.  The months ahead will really determine if the next Xbox will be my go-to entertainment system or if I’ll be using it sparingly for console exclusives as I migrate to Sony’s PS4.  Time will tell and as disappointing as some things seem right now, it’s too early to say for certain just how much of a con all of the restrictions are.  In the end, it really comes down to the games.  Which system will have the games I want to play?  With E3 just over two weeks away, it should be long to find out which system has the larger, more enticing lineup.

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