On May 21 2013, in front of esteemed members of the press and a global internet audience of 8.5 million, Microsoft announced the Xbox One and was met with a widespread sigh from the gaming masses. Their press conference detailed the company’s continued shift in focus from a gaming orientated device with multimedia capabilities to a multimedia orientated device with gaming capabilities. In a further move that only added fuel to the raging fire, Microsoft stated that the console would always need to be online, would not support pre-owned games and there would be no self-publishing from indie developers. Over the next few weeks, the underwhelming response was further compounded by Sony who appeared to provide a right to every Microsoft wrong.
With the battle for the next generation already being waged, here are 5 reasons why we should forgive the Xbox One and get on board.
Great Track Record
When Microsoft first threw its Spartan helmet into the ring in 2001, it did so in an arena where the PlayStation had solidified its place as the gamer’s console of choice. Microsoft’s Xbox managed to burst onto the scene and has been providing gamers with quality experiences ever since.
Xbox Live set the standard for online console gaming, a service that was improved upon with the 360, and the innovative inclusion of the achievement system has managed to successfully increase the life span of games, whilst supplying gamers with a barometer to compare their gaming triumphs with friends. Perhaps most importantly, Xbox has supplied us with some of the most celebrated games in video game history. Where would we be without the Warthog from the Halo series, the chainsaw gun from Gears of War, the soft squelch of Super Meat Boy or the quirky humor ever present in the Fable franchise? Cliff Bleszinski would possibly be one step further away from his Lamborghini and Peter Moore would certainly be less tattooed.
One could put forward a good case that the Xbox 360 has become the gamer’s console of choice, perhaps even winning this generation’s console war. It almost certainly provided a better online service, has some extremely memorable games and has constantly strived for innovation. As such a trusted brand with a great track record, the Xbox One brings with it an awful lot of promise.
Perhaps the single most impressive game to come out of this year’s E3 conference was Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall and at point of writing, it remains exclusive to Xbox One and PC. The game is essentially a sci-fi first person shooter, with an emphasis on mobility, survivability and fast paced action. One of the game’s unique selling points is the massive mechs or ‘Titans’ that you will be able to pilot throughout the game, although the Titans aren’t the only aspect of the game to get excited about. With jet-packs at the ready and some interesting free running mechanics, the fight is not limited to the Titans and appears to be a solid shooter when at ground level. Titanfall is the type of game the Xbox One needs to create buzz and I believe this title alone will help to sell a serious number of consoles. On the other hand, it is worth bearing in mind that this title has not yet been confirmed as an Xbox One exclusive, meaning that we might see it on the PlayStation 4 in the future.
Whilst this might just be one title, Titanfall has all the credentials to knock the likes of Call of Duty off its crumbling pedestal and become the must-have game for the Xbox One.
Xbox One Eighty
As previously mentioned, when the Xbox One was revealed and at the subsequent E3 press conference, Microsoft underwhelmed and infuriated fans with a string of unpopular features and decisions.
The gaming community took to the internet to voice their concerns, and, somewhat surprisingly, Microsoft took note. In an amazing display of consumer power, Microsoft began to back-pedal on some of their previous decisions, despite stating that the decisions made were irreversible. Microsoft first decided that it would allow pre-owned games to grace its next system, it also decided that not only would indie developers be allowed to self-publish, they would open up all consoles to be used as development kits at no extra charge. Most recently, Microsoft even announced that the Kinect is no longer a requirement for the console to function. A price point that is significantly higher than the PlayStation 4 is still a disadvantage in the Xbox One’s corner, but even this may change now that the Kinect is no longer mandatory.
Whilst these changes are impressive, what is far more noteworthy is the idea that Microsoft listened to what its primary audience wanted and acted upon this, promising that it would deliver changes. The question that remains is whether this will continue throughout the console’s life cycle, as no relationship is more important for the Xbox One in the next generation than its relationship with what should be its most valued commodity: its community of gamers.
Impressive Features With an Eye to the Future
If you can look past the angry mob of video game fans armed with pitch forks and torches, the Xbox One has a surprising list of good features. It would be naïve to ignore the fact that gaming is truly an expanding industry with a varied audience that is ever-changing, and as such it needs to adapt. With an impressive array of television and internet browsing options all integrated smoothly, the Xbox One plans to be the one box to rule the living room. Gamers were not so much annoyed at the features, but more so at the attention these features received over games. Rightly so, too. After all, it is a video game console.
The almost taboo Xbox One Kinect is another impressive feature, and the inclusion with every Xbox One ensures that each gamer has access to it (as long as the device continues to be packaged with each console). Ideally, this allows developers to implement the Kinect into games without having to worry if the gamer will be able to access these features. Early reports on the new Kinect suggest a much improved device, and,with promising games such as Child of Eden and Gunslinger, there might yet be life in the Kinect.
Whilst we are all aware that there is a high chance of our beloved medium becoming digital only, Xbox One perhaps tried to force this change with the restriction on pre-owned games a little too soon. It could be said that this was a highly innovative move with one eye to the future, ensuring profits for the game go to developers, rather than the video game store middlemen, and it could be argued that Sony are only delaying the inevitable shift. Nevertheless, as previously stated, video game fans everywhere made their voices heard and managed to ensure that this restriction was never implemented.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it is perhaps only several years into the console’s life cycle that we will truly get a feel for how important these features will be for the future of the Xbox One.
PlayStation 3 Launch
Do many people remember the launch of the PlayStation 3? The answer is of course yes, but, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. Much like the Xbox One, the PlayStation 3 reveal was a bit of a disaster, with the main sticking point being the extremely expensive launch price. Coming in at a college fund obliterating $599, people were truly shocked at how much the George Foreman Grill look-a-like would set them back and fans struggled to see how Sony would justify the price tag.
Further to this, the launch period itself wasn’t as great a success as Sony might have hoped, with the Xbox 360 gaining a major advantage being released 12 months before and also retailing at a significantly lower price. The PlayStation Network was also looked down upon by the online console gamer as the inferior service, with PlayStation Home proving to be one of modern gaming’s great laughing stocks. Further to this, the Xbox 360 also boasted what many believed was a stronger stable of games, which is surprisingly contrasted to the situation at present.
Seven years later and how the gaming landscape has changed. With franchises such as Uncharted and The Last of Us (thank you very much indeed, Naughty Dog), as well as Killzone and Ratchet and Clank to name but a few, it could be argued that it is the PlayStation 3 with a more impressive roster. The PlayStation 3′s online service has also been reinvented with the remarkable PlayStation Plus service, and with Blu-Ray discs being crowned the king of HD over the long forgotten HD DVDs, one could argue the tables have truly turned.
Whilst the Xbox One might appear to have lost the very early skirmishes of this console war, it would be foolish to count them out so early, as history has taught us. With the wealth of experience at Microsoft, a little service to the fans, and a console with a huge amount of potential, the battle has only just begun.