A Calmer Set of Impressions over the Xbox One Reveal

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As a human being, specifically one still within their teenage years, I am a victim to impulse. Even if I am aware that it is a bad idea, my emotions can get the better of me, hence why this blog’s been around for nearly a year. Yesterday, I ranted over the Xbox One, and my initial thoughts about the conference, as my cheese was certainly stinky. However, with a more level head, and after cooling off with some Grand Theft Childhood and Mass Effect comics, I think I can be an adult and talk about the subject.

Let us begin my thoughts on the matter with the title, Xbox One, or the Xbone, or the XBandonk as I choose to call it. Now, I understand, get used to me beginning sentences with a phrase similar to that one, the title of the system. As a semi-refresh of the brand, they want to start over from square one, and aim at a new audience, starting over with Xbox One implies you need no prior experience with the brand. However, last I checked 70+ million people own the Xbox 360. And when your biggest competition is the Playstation 4, combatting it with a system that literally ends with “One” makes the system look inferior because the natural instinct of mankind is that a higher number is better.

The intention is simplification, as the name is a play on being and all in One item, the one box for a person’s living room television. Which comes across to me as a bit odd. Perhaps I am an anomaly whose opinions are as valued as much as the deaf, but I don’t use my living room for television, hell, I don’t even watch much TV nowadays. A lot of people don’t, and something serving as a Hulu/Amazon Video/Netflix box is often good enough, with plenty of blu-ray players already doing such services, if not televisions themselves. It is a market that does not care especially about games, even if the word cinematic was thrown about in describing games. Why go for something that requires you to press buttons for cinematic actions when you can sit on your arse and watch said cinematic action?

“Well, then you don’t need to switch between the input channels of your TV, and can just shout at it to change channels, modes, or even do a picture in picture thingie.” I paraphrase from the conference, sounding derpy all the way. The usage of a remote to change channels is not an overly complex prospect, although I could understand the joys of shouting to change the channel, which could be done fairly easily by a variant of a microphone plugged into the television itself.   Instead, it is boasted as a new feature to the “rocket-science” of the second version of Kinect. Able to promise most of the things Project Natal boasted, the new Kinect, yes it is sad I can type that out without feeling stupid, seems like a keen addition I wouldn’t want in my game console. Because at the end of the day, the Xbox is a brand associated most closely with video games, and opening with television programs and sports centered around an advanced cable box that is very likely going to cost $400-500.

The idea of manipulating a game of sports via the television itself, in conjunction with a smartphone does make sense if I could ignore why people would find man running and throwing balls exhilarating, however interrupting your viewing of a film for a very small image of your friend sitting on their couch seems unwanted to me. It seems to promote laziness more than anything, while counteractively having an undoubtable line-up of Kinect based fitness titles. None of which were shown beyond some advanced body capturing tech, but some games were mentioned during the reveal itself.

With several previously announced titles, like the Thief reboot and Destiny stealthily being added to the system’s eventual library, the lack of showcasing their 15 exclusives that will arrive within the first year was an act I saw defended quite a bit. Under the banter of their being a specifically game-centric conference within less than a month, and this being the major reveal. However, the primary audience cares more about the actual titles than anything, and showing some cutscene footage from a racing series I don’t believe anyone plays. Sports gameplay that I can’t tell if it is gameplay or not. Zero gameplay for the boringly named Remedy project Quantum Break. And only tidbits of the next multi-platform multi-million seller that will mark the series’s tenth proper title, Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Now, the conference itself was very underwhelming, as the actual audience it was aiming for is a very small percentage of an overlap of several groups. Appealing to everyone, yet basically no one. The details only trickled in as Nintendo and Sony’s stock rose, but one that encompassed how I am certain this system will be something people should avoid are the restrictions placed on the player. Firstly, no backwards compatibility, at all. Now, I bought a little over 100 titles for my primary system, which was an Xbox 360 due to how the Wii was leaving me hanging in 2008, and the Playstation 3 was still below it in terms of a nice firm library. None of them can be played, so I would not be so much as upgrading, as leaving behind my large library for the closet, or if I was less endowed with income, I would be selling that system, regretting any unsellable download purchase I made.

Secondly, no used games, well, not really anyhow. With the actual game serving as the data for the experience, buying a game is really just buying a license to play it on your account. Bring a new game to your friend’s house, and you need to play the MSRP. So anyone who sells games to buy new ones, or is lend games among a group of friends, is punished for not supporting publishers expecting to sell five million units within a month. They claim they will talk about a solution at a later date, but until you can actually tell us what the cure to this infected knee is, we can only assume it will make things worse.

Something that I essentially do, at least for now. The thing about first impressions is that you only get one, and if you offer a half hour of things people are disinterested in, before telling them some of the worst news next to the iffy always online prospects. Not requiring a constant internet connection, but an internet connection in some form for a time period vague, making you look like a rich overlord thinking his peasants will eat the flesh of their kin. With something as bloody simple as emulation being beyond the wide ranges of Microsoft. I would understand not making original Xbox titles compatible, but when you promise to talk about titles for the 360 within a few weeks, your slick new piece of tech should be able to play them with zero issue!

So thank you Microsoft, for making me not want something, as I’ll continue to stare at the VIta and hope it stops farting, as I ploy how to make a gaming PC.

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  1. Voltech

    “And when your biggest competition is the Playstation 4, combatting it with a system that literally ends with “One” makes the system look inferior because the natural instinct of mankind is that a higher number is better.”

    To be fair, they might have called it the Xbox One — besides the reason they said — because they were trying to suggest that it’s the number-one console…and you should buy it immediately without giving its particulars a second thought. Just as planned.

    Five years down the line, there’s still going to be the chance that the console — like the 360 before it — is going to be one of the devices of choice thanks to the games that inevitably flock to it. (The PS3 had some trouble starting out, but now it’s got a healthy library of games, exclusive and multiplatform.) So assuming that Microsoft can sort things out somewhere down the line, we’ll have ourselves another solid console.

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaand here comes the “but”.

    First impressions are everything, and between that comedy act of a conference and the information that flowed in soon after, the collective bigwigs of Microsoft essentially farted en masse into their microphones…hooked up to megaphones. There might be a positive spin to all this negative info that’s been swirling around, but even if there is, I wonder if it’ll be enough. And of course, they need to do something sooner rather than later.

    To paraphrase Tycho of Penny Arcade, “They needed to do this three days ago.”

    1. Electnigma

      Never viewed Microsoft as arrogant enough to say their box is number one in its very name. Well, I never viewed anybody as arrogant enough to do such a thing, but the cough syrup that is the name is mild in comparison to the sewage that is everything else with the system. Perhaps my disdain for everything they threw around is attributed primarily to how the 360 is my system of choice, at least until I get my hands on a friend’s PS3 for a few months, but so far it seems like they are throwing roadkill on the fire they started with the impressions. So not only is there more of it, but it stinks with something I choose to represent a lack of conviction.

      Which may or may not be logical, seeing as how carrying stuff in a hot room and then sitting in a hot car for two hours before eating for the first time in eight hours makes my mind less than optimal. So I’ll just thank you like I do to everyone who takes the time to comment on my blog. Danke schön!