By Joshua Ostrer
Microsoft’s new Xbox seeks to become all-in-one entertainment system
It’s been nearly eight years since the Xbox 360 was released, and on May 21, its successor, the Xbox One, was formally introduced to the world. Microsoft’s third Xbox console has a lot of expectations to meet.
With the Xbox 360 nearing the end of its run, Microsoft has enjoyed sales of its console. They have sold an estimated 77 million consoles since 2005.
In a May 24 public address, Microsoft announced that they still expect to sell another 25 million more consoles, bringing them above the 100 million threshold.
Microsoft expects the Xbox One to sell over 300 million consoles.
With over 30 million subscribers to Xbox Live, Xbox’s online connectivity service, a video game industry that raked in $10.5 billion in 2009 and 67 percent of all American households playing videogames, Microsoft has a lot of people to impress with its new flagship console. But can it impress everyone?
The Xbox One is part of the eighth generation of gaming consoles and will be competing with the PlayStation 4 for console supremacy when it is released in late 2013. But what makes the Xbox One so special?
The Xbox One will feature 8 GB of DDR3 RAM (in contrast to the 360’s 512 MB), comes with a 500 GB hard drive, three internal operating systems, a built-in Blu-ray player, 7.1 surround sound and the ability to support 4 K resolution (3840×2160).
The new Xbox One will also feature a revamped Kinect, with increased ability to process motion, and additional voice commands.
And while all of these features are improvements on the Xbox 360, they really haven’t attracted much attention. Why not? Well, Microsoft doesn’t seem to be giving them much attention either.
In Microsoft’s public reveal of the Xbox One, the emphasis was less on gaming and more so on the Xbox becoming your new television remote.
The Xbox One features the ability to “seamlessly transition between gaming and TV.” Microsoft wants your Xbox to take the place of your TV remote; it wants you to use it as your composite entertainment system in your living room for TV, movies, games, Skype and even exercise.
Microsoft obviously wanted to turn its Xbox franchise into more than just a gaming system; becoming the “all-in-one” entertainment system instead. And that shift alone has sparked quite a bit of disdain from the gaming community, producing cries of “why do I need another TV remote?”
However, it is not because of Microsoft’s philosophical shift of sorts that so much controversy has erupted.
In the Xbox One reveal, Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will not be backwards compatible. This means that your new Xbox One will not be able to play any of the games you already bought for your Xbox 360.
This has caused outrage in the millions of gamers who have dropped $60 for each game they will no longer be able to play on the new system.
What’s more is that Microsoft has developed a new model that requires constant Internet connection.
If you want to play a game, even single player, you better be in range of Wi-Fi because the Xbox One will lock you out of playing any games at all if you can’t “check-in” with them to authenticate the game you already paid for, on a daily basis.
Microsoft also angered quite a few gamers and businesses with its announcement that the buying and selling of used games is going to change.
Right now, if you buy a new game, you can play it and then go into your local Gamestop and sell the game to the store, which will then re-sell it to someone else at a price lower than the $60 it was initially listed for purchase. This process has made playing all the popular videogame titles more financially feasible for gamers around the world since videogames have existed. And now that process is being disturbed.
Microsoft announced that while a used game will be allowed to be played on another console, there will be an additional “activation fee” for a secondary user to play the game, increasing the prices of used games forever.
This change has led to a 10 percent drop in Gamestop stock prices and anger across the gaming community as users again question, “Do I really own what I just bought?”
Gamers are increasingly leaning towards PC gaming over their consoles, enjoying cheaper prices, the ability to play offline, a larger title library and the freedom of not having to buy a new console or worry about backwards compatibility.
The Xbox One does have some nice hardware inside of it, and will no doubt experience its fair share of blockbuster videogame titles.
But always-online requirements, a hindered used-game market, and a focus on TV rather than games themselves might stop the console from becoming everything it could be.