Postmortem: Xbox One at E3

So the presentations have come and went at E3 and the gaming community has declared a winner for the next console wars…

SONY and the PS4

It has the price, the games, and most importantly its for gamers.

The Xbox One on the other hand is an evil black box filled with DRM and Big Brother software and comes with Kinect which no one uses.

And that was E3 thanks for coming.

Still here? Good.  Now that we have gotten the fanboy mess out of the way we can get down to it.

In a lot of ways the reception to the Xbox One was never going to be positive. It was never going to win E3. The consoles strengths are not going to be evident until long after its release. SONY on the other hand delivered what gamers say they wanted; a console with better specs than the last one for a cheap price and acts like a console has always acted. The Xbox One is not the device hardcore gamers were looking for.

And Microsoft or really Xbox head Don Mattrick hasn’t really helped their cause. Mattrick 54 second comment on how Xbox users with internet issues should buy a 360 is not the thing to say when asked. One because it reeks of insensitivity, and two you want to leave some room in case you need to backtrack. The fact that VP of Marketing Yusuf Mehdi struck a much more balanced tone should tell those concerned that Microsoft may change some of the restrictions on the One’s usage.

And that is the second part of the problem, the way Microsoft has talked about the Xbox One has made it about what it doesn’t do as opposed to what it does. People are screaming about “Always On” and game lending that they overlook asking why these choices were made.

The Xbox One is not a next generation console, not in the way I think many define next generation. The PlayStation 4 is a next generation console; it is a more powerful device with more features. The PS4 is a follow up to the PS3 and it functions like the PS3 but with better graphics. The One, on the other hand, is a different beast. It is next generation not in terms of a spec bump but in future proofing.

All the issues core gamers have with the Xbox One and all the things that make it attractive can be traced to the Cloud. Cloud computing, the vaguely defined form of utilizing off-site computer farms to expand computer power is at the heart of the One. If you go back to the Xbox One’s reveal, and especially the panel on its architecture the one thing you’d take away is the Xbox One isn’t about being next gen. It’s about not being static.

For me the talk was enlightening because it reminded me of Windows 8. Like Windows 8, the One isn’t just looking at the PS4 or the Wii U, but also at the Apple TV and the growth of mobile gaming as something that eats at consoles. Its looking at Steam and OnLive  and services that offer gaming without the costs of hardware. And lastly the One was built looking at how best to future proof a device that will loose the spec war over time. The Xbox One is about what’s coming. The problem with building for the future and what’s coming is that it has to be in the present. And the Xbox team hasn’t made the case for why the future today is a good thing. 

People are talking about the difficulty in trading and selling games, or buying used games. Gamers are complaining about the need for Internet connectivity. They aren’t talking about the same day digital downloads, or the expanded family features where friends can play a users game free and without restrictions. They aren’t talking about the fact that like Windows 8 and mobile OSes your games and apps are tied to your gamer tag and account. They are not talking about the fact that games and the system itself will update itself without too much user hassle. All this is being overshadowed and it’s a shame. And the funny thing is Xbox One presales are up. And more to the point a lot of this is subject to change. The 24 hour check could be lengthened or discarded. Some questions such as those on used games have been answered.

A recent article summed up the predicament, “Gamers whooped and hollered because Sony said that it was going to try to keep their world exactly as they already know it, discs and all.”

For gamers the Xbox One is not the definition of next gen gaming; next gen gaming is a faster machine, this was a shackle to them. 

In the days and hours since E3 I think some of the Venom has lessened, but the Xbox One is bruised in the eyes of gamers. I don’t think there was anything Microsoft could’ve done to change that outcome, the One is forward facing, “next-gen” in a way that core gamers won’t appreciate for awhile.

image: Xbox Wire

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3 comments
  1. I think postmortem is the right word for this kind of situation. I think Microsoft has a ways to go if they want their customers to trust their gaming departments all over again.

    • I think its not as big a hurdle, as long as the Xbox president shuts up

  2. Pingback: Homepage

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