A harsh but honest criticism of Xbox One
I can safely say I’m known for my harsh criticism of Microsoft, not just here on N4G but all over and even among friends. The root of my disparagement is often dismissed as blind fanboyism and I understand this need to discredit my opinion in the absence of a compelling argument but, whether you believe me or not, it actually stems from what was once great admiration. Admiration of great hardware, forward thinking and a huge investment into games, which, since the release of Xbox 360 has been slowly chipped away until there’s nothing left but bitter resentment over what could have been. This isn’t one of those fanboy disclaimers, I’m not asking you to suspend your disbelief and make the assumption that my opinion is worth reading, to be perfectly honest I don’t care what people think of me, I just want to get this off my chest and a personal blog seems like the perfect medium.
Lack of games, too much focus on near-worthless TV features, confusing name, mixed messages, confirmation of DRM and used game consumer roadblocks; these are the things most people took away from the Xbox One reveal. I cannot understate how much of a catastrophic failure of messaging and coordination Microsoft displayed during that entire day; it’s like the many PR heads of the MS hydra were blindfolded, tied in knots and had no idea what the other heads were doing. It was an unmitigated disaster among which the only possible positive announcement could very well turn out to be a misleading half-truth.
Starting with the box itself, when I say box I REALLY mean box because that’s pretty much what it is, a big black box with another black box next to it. I know that looks are subjective and, although I find the whole thing a hideous monstrosity, there are others who will be happy with that 80’s VHS/betamax style. What is harder to argue for is the size of the damn thing, it looks massive. It’s so big in fact that I may not be able to fit it on the floating shelf below my wall mounted TV and, from what I can make out, it doesn’t look like you can stand it on its side.
The second conspicuous flaw lies in the concept of the “one box to rule them all” approach MS have taken here, even the name, Xbox One, seems to suggest that they want to be the only box in the living room. This, however, is simply impossible for so many reasons, starting with the obvious need for a cable box input to get the TV feature to work. Then there’s apparently an IR sensor that needs to be connected in order to be able to change the channels on your cable box using Xbox, that’s four boxes so far including Kinect. On top of that the 500gb HDD is not going to be anywhere near enough to store all your mandatory installed games, movies, music etc; which means an external HDD is pretty much going to be necessary. That’s five boxes on your shelf/cabinet (six including the PS4 you will need in order to play games - joke), I’m sorry but that just makes Microsoft’s vision seem utterly ridiculous to me. This is exacerbated to the point of lunacy when you also consider the power brick that will undoubtedly make a less-than-welcome return.
Let’s go back to the one seemingly positive thing to come out of that terrible day, “15 exclusive games, 8 of which will be brand new IPs”. The moment I heard those words there was a rush of excitement, as if it was all going to be alright but then my brain kicked in and quickly put a halt to that crazy dream. Let’s face facts here, this has to be one of the most misleading promises ever made in one of these conferences. It’s a glaringly obvious ploy to get the core gamer onboard without actually having to show anything to back those words up with. We all want to believe there will be 15 awesome games within a year of launching but, staying realistic; you have to admit the nearly stone cold fact that a lot, if not most, of these will be both Kinect titles and XBL games. While there’s nothing wrong with having games in this respect, the promise of 15 new games and 8 new IPs just seems like an over-reaching exaggeration born of desperation to keep an audience that have been clinging on for dear life in hope of new games for what seems like an eternity now. It’s a promise that is easily kept but the misleading nature of its announcement will inevitably lead to disappointment, which is a low tactic in my eyes.
We’ve been encouraged to look past the lack of gameplay or lack of anything game related at the Xbox One reveal and “wait for E3” by multiple sources from MS, a sentiment that has also been echoed by the many fanboys in forums around the net. As far as the gaming aspect of Xbox One goes I’m inclined to agree with them, however, does that really make up for the outrageous infliction of DRM, mandatory Kinect and used game pay-walls? In my honest and humble opinion, no, it does not. There has to be a line drawn in the sand by gamers, a message sent out to manufacturers and publishers alike, ‘this line you DO NOT cross’ and we need to enforce it with our wallets. I’m actually a little shocked that people are using the “just wait until...” argument in support of MS, I mean really, what game-related announcement could they possibly reveal that would make the issues at hand here OK? I for one can’t think of anything within reason.
The fact that MS thought they could announce their new ‘games’ console along with such terrible anti-consumer practices without causing outrage among gamers is testament to just how disconnected and arrogant they have become as a company. Microsoft believes they have you, they believe they own you and they believe they can use you. Use you to get their poisonous foot into a market of living room only media freaks, which, in all probability, doesn’t even exist.
It’s for those reasons that, unless MS do a complete U-turn on almost everything they’ve revealed so far, they won’t be getting my money this time. Until that day I’ll quite happily continue to watch Microsoft shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly, in hope that one day they eventually get the picture. I’m certainly not stupid enough to fall for false promises of 15+ games and $1billion investments into ‘games’ without one shred of evidence to say that MS give even the smallest hoot* about gamers.
*edited for bad language after biting my tongue, hard.