My Xbox One thoughts

So, now that I’ve had a few days to think about the presentation that Microsoft put together for their next iteration of the Xbox console platform, I have determined I have some serious issues and concerns with what they showed the world on Tuesday.

– Issue number one has to do with the price of the console and the related Xbox Live services.

Both Sony and Microsoft take the cake for talking tech, tech, tech, but never mentioning a price for the console.  Microsoft takes this to another level when they talk about so many features and integrations, but never talking about the elephant in the room, that being Xbox Live.  Nearly everything that you can do on an Xbox console, as far as integration with the internet (outside of game patching,) requires an Xbox Live Gold subscription.  It would be foolish to think that you won’t need to have that subscription for almost everything that they mentioned in the press conference on Tuesday.   I will be pretty surprised if they don’t require a Live subscription for everything from the fantasy sports updates, to the ability to use the TV integration in the system.   Considering the fact that they make you have a Gold Subscription to use Netflix (a service that you already pay for,) I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that you will be looking at spending extra money every month for the new features of the system.   I would project that Xbox Live will move from their $5 a month pricing at the moment to $6.99 or $7.99 a month, and maybe $69.99 a year.

Also, when you see the details of what Microsoft paid to the NFL for their exclusive deal, you have to know that someone is going to be paying that price tag.

(Side note: The subsidized systems that they already have in place for the Xbox 360 consoles are probably a very good indication of where they might go with this.  Sure, they might sell you the system for $299, but you’ll pay $15 a month for Xbox Live, for the next few years, to subsidize it.)

– Issue Two has to come from the fact that the system will not work without the Kinect.  At this point, I can pretty much see that my theater will never be a room for an Xbox One because of that requirement.

Personally, I have been nothing but annoyed by the Kinect.  I thought it would be an awesome system addition for motion control, but I found it to be frustrating to use over time and it sits under my living room TV completely unused.

I have seen the videos and I know that they have greatly improved the capabilities of the Kinect and it looks like it does a much better job of recognition, but the fact that it can detect my heartbeat through some of their software creeps me the hell out.  I don’t want a box that can recognize me the second I walk into the room (oh, and never mind the privacy concerns along with that considering the system has a persistent ethernet connection to Microsoft.)

I loved the movie Minority Report, but it’s clear that the engineers at Microsoft LOVVVVEED it.  Everything that we saw was some sort of connection to the visual interfaces from that movie.  None of which are things that I want to do while sitting on my couch watching a show or playing a video game.   I yell at my TV when I am annoyed at a sporting event or the game I’m playing, not when I want it to change a channel…. I have a remote that can do that just fine, thank you very much.

– Issue Three has to do with used games or game sharing.

The issues with this have been covered on a great deal of sites over the past few days, but when you talk about the fact that I can’t lend a game that I bought to a friend without them having to pay something additional to play it, that’s just an awful situation.  Never mind the fact that the used game market will go in the crapper when Microsoft will make you pay a fee to play a game that you didn’t purchase first.  If you think that Gamestop gives you crappy trade-in value for games now, think about how much they’ll give you for a $60 game when Microsoft charges anywhere from $5 to $20 just to play it on another persons system.

I honestly have no idea what the marketing people were thinking with this event.  Because of their approach and apparent lack of interest to give direct answers to the easiest of questions, they have alienated the largest group of initial buyers of the console (hardcore gamers.)   Time has shown that their model for the Xbox 360 has become a very profitable one, but they were able to create that strategy over time utilizing games as the carrot to bring so many people to their platform.  This time, they’re going almost exclusively with video and multimedia as the method to bring consumers to the device, but how many average home users will want to spend $500 to put a box in their house so that they can have an enhanced TV experience.

– Issue four is about the games.

Were there games at the conference? It was hard to find them because of the extreme focus on being able to watch The Price is Right on my Xbox.

One of the games that was mentioned was Forza 5.  Which is a very well beloved franchise, no doubt about that.  But one thing that was brought to our attention after the conference is the fact that none of the previous peripherals will work with the console.  So, you announce a racing game that can only be played with a gamepad, because no one will have a steering wheel controller that will work with it?  Huzzah!

EA Sports announces a new engine for their sports games and shows it off by using a pre-rendered CGI trailer.  The entire time I was watching it, I was thinking about Madden Next Gen trailer from 2006.   Seven years ago people might have bought that trailer was going to be anything like the games that we would be playing on the new systems (but not many people,) but who in the hell would believe it now?   Seriously, it took seven years to get new camera angles in NCAA Football, are we to expect that this new EA Sports engine will actually not cause more issues than it will address?

Oh, and don’t even start talking about the fact that a good portion of the Call of Duty: Ghosts information had to do with the concept of having a dog in a video game.

This press event really made me think of this story from The Onion from 16 1/2 years ago.

To paraphrase, “…what are people going to do?  Not buy an Xbox?  I think not.”

It seemed to exude arrogance of what device they thought everyone would want, because it does everything, but neglecting the fact that the early adopters of a console device just want one thing, games.

The device may succeed or it may fail, but I think that there are far too many questions at this point that make people like myself debate the value of having such a device in their home.

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