Thoughts on Xbox One
Let me forgo rehashing everything we know and instead focus on my opinion on the decision being made with Xbox One. If you don't know about the items discussed herein, you only need to check the home page for about 15 minutes and you will be fully caught up.
Before I go into each item one by one, let me get this out of the way: The Xbox Reveal Event, while advertised in part towards the gaming press and community, was not for the gaming press or community. It was for the publishers of games and media primarily. The people who will look at what Microsoft is doing with the Xbox One and want to get in on the deal to help make them money. It was not for the people who will spend money on it or the products and services that will be available with the Xbox One.
..:: IT DOES PLAY GAMES
Yes, it does. There is no question in my mind, nor should there be in anyone else's, that the Xbox One plays games. But, cgoodno, we hardly saw anything about games at the Xbox Reveal Event? Right, because E3 is right around the corner. See my comment above as well.
Notwithstanding the fairly lackluster showing of EA Sports, Forza 5, and Call of Duty: Ghosts -- all pretty much no-brainer IPs for Xbox One and PS4 to begin with -- there will be games on the Xbox One. If the fact that Microsoft has not continued to pay for exclusive content from the above mentioned third-party groups, then the fact that they said multiple times that there would be 15 exclusives, 8 new IPs, announced at E3. This does not include the plethora of third-party titles that will obviously make their way to the Xbox One, if they haven't been announced already.
Will it have more exclusives than PS4 or WiiU? No clue, but it will have games. Will it have the games I like? No clue, but it will have games. Will a lot of those new IPs/exclusives end up being Kinect games? No clue, but it will have games. Do you know anything? I know that the best thing to do is to wait for the actual gaming convention in 18 days to have more answers. Microsoft isn't going to reveal all the answers now just like Sony isn't either. They want to wait until the big gaming convention next month and in the following months to announce gaming-related items, not blow their wad all at once.
..:: IT IS A PUBLISHER'S WET DREAM
With discs being only utilized to deliver content to the box and otherwise everything else being handled digitally with digital keys that are linked to a user's Xbox Live account, the age of DRM has evolved and Online Passes have become Game Passes (and EA's recent news about doing away with Online Passes is disingenuous to me now knowing that they will move into a future where it now encompasses single player content as well). The manner in which Xbox One will deliver games is definitely making all the major developers hot and wet. Forgive my crude reference, but it's very apropos. Until there is a massive backlash from consumers, which may or may not happen, publishers are going to spin the heck out of these features by using half-truths and red herrings.
What has worsened the situation in the last day is that Microsoft has, seemingly, not fully thought out this plan nor do they appear to have all the answers. In my opinion, they have the answers, they just don't want to tell everyone their plans right now and will continue to say as little as possible for as long as possible in order to obfuscate the public as to their goals. And their goals are to make it harder for people to acquire games from others and to ensure that publishers get a cut from used game sales. Plain and simple. They want to make as much money for their publishers so that their publishers will see them as the best solution for making money in today's market and to ensure that publishers will not only put their games on the Xbox One but jump through all the hoops Microsoft wants them to because all they care about in the end is money.
Phil Harrison's responses from yesterday on how it's not as bad as we think only made it worse for me. His responses showed that they weren't actually trying to facilitate the process for customers, but control the options that customers have at their disposal. Sure, they will make it as easy as possible for customers to sell their games or play them on a friend's console, but only within the confines of their controlled environment. If they truly were trying to give the customers the easiest method in controlling what they do with their content, then we wouldn't be moving away from the disc-based gaming we having with the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Now, this can change. It may get better. But, looking at Microsoft's plans now and seeing how they are catering not to customers but to publishers in almost every way possible, better will not be good enough. There will be limitations for the customer, more work for those who sell used games, and publishers will walk away with more money than they make now as they get a cut of everything under the sun. And, if and when game sales decline through this heavy-handed method of controlling what customers can do with their purchased content, publishers will once again blame us when sales don't meet expectations.
..:: IT IS ALSO A CABLE BOX
Microsoft is showing their desire here to help publishers of various content with the addition of cable top box capabilities with its latest Xbox. As more people move towards Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon VOD and similar Internet streaming options for their TV and movie needs, cable companies are looking for more ways to attract subscribing customers. And combining it with a console that sells well with the ability to control your TV with your voice? What person who isn't into fad technology wouldn't want this? It makes watching TV look cool again when in reality... it's not. It's just a gimmick to support the big cable companies.
Some of you likely really likes these features. Great, you are their target audience. Congratulations. There's no award for this other than you will be happier when you get one and set it up to switch from TV to game to browser to whatever else there is.
The reality it, what they showed did not share enough information on the reality of what you would need. You still need a cable set top box if you want to rent videos from OnDemand. If you use a receiver for multiple devices, you will more than likely still have to use a remote in order to switch to a mode to hear sound through your sound system rather than just the TV. You cannot upgrade your HDD nor is it likely that you will be allowed to store movies on an external drive. All data will be encrypted and you will not be able to save the data externally for future viewing. This service will not be available with every service provider and in order to utilize it you may have to break an existing 2-year contract in order to sign up with another provider that does utilize this.
But, no matter what. If you use it or you don't, every single person here will be paying for this feature. The OS for managing TV input will be running all the time and taking away processing and memory that could be utilized elsewhere. It is built into every Xbox. Even in locations outside of North America where there won't be any content provider partnerships at the release of the Xbox One.
What does Microsoft gain out of this? They make content providers extremely happy by encouraging people to use their service through a certified third-party device that does everything they want who will then advertise the heck out of it and get it into the hands of as many people as possible who will then more than likely pay for Xbox Live and buy games for their new console that also can stream TV.
..:: KINECT, IT WILL BE USED
Probably my biggest issue with Microsoft is their insistence on the use of Kinect and how they have driven it as a priority from day one. When they put half a billion towards advertising, I knew it would be something in the future that they would never let go and would try to attach to everything they could get their hands on. There was just too much invested in it to let it go by the wayside. Too much.
And, here it is, the Xbox One with its required Kinect functionality. Who cares if you won't use the hand gestures or voice commands, this extra device must be plugged into your Xbox One or it will not work. You must pay for it even if you don't want it. And, we're not talking about paying for Wi-Fi if you don't even use it, we're talking about an expensive, external, optional device that isn't included to make sure users will have all the options needed to connect the necessary devices. And if it breaks down, so does your Xbox One. If your HDMI port or Wi-Fi breaks down, your Xbox One will work perfectly fine using its other services.
I'm not into motion gaming. I don't want to talk to my TV. I don't want to have a big rectangular box plugged in solely for the purpose that it's required in order to utilize all other elements in the larger rectangular box, even if I won't be using my voice or the wave of my hands. I don't want to pay for something optional like this. It's not for me. It's why I didn't by a Wii. It may be one of the major factors in why I may not get an Xbox One.
..:: PEOPLE WILL BUY IT
No matter how much I see wrong with this device or how much hatred it gets, this item will sell. It will likely sell better than the Xbox 360 did in its first year. Microsoft and the publishers who are behind it will make sure of it. Billions will be spent on advertising, convincing people to upgrade to another box in front of their TV so they can talk to it to watch TV. Major third-party titles will have content only available on the Xbox One. Cable partners will give you deals on the cost of a Xbox One if you sign a two-year agreement with them (It's only $99, isn't that a steal? Now pay us $200 a month for two years and it will be yours!).
Is this a bad thing? Heck if I know anymore. iPhone 4S sold like hotcakes because people could talk to Siri. Why not Microsoft and the Kinect? It's all about being the biggest fad, which is created from whomever has the best marketing, in order to get the numbers, which tells publishers they need to put out more content on the device, which leads to more numbers. People are happy with their iPhones. They'll more than likely be happy with their Xbox One. In the end, people will find a reason to be happy about plopping down a ton of money on a device, even if they dislike how they are being treated as consumers.
But that doesn't make it the device we deserve as consumers.