Thoughts on Xbox One

What a train wreck.

That being said, I should note a few things. I have long disliked, near hated, the Xbox 360, largely out of jealousy and frustration that stems from the previous “console war.” The domino of lost exclusives while watching many people buy a product knowing that it had a 33% failure rate while also watching game quality deteriorate as a result of multi-platform development left a bad taste in my mouth. And that green-ick! But mainly it was how the 360 impacted PS3 games that I resented it. Games from certain franchises I liked took longer to be released and then weren’t as good as their predecessors to boot. After several years with the dust settling from such things, I have considered buying a 360 for a few particular games, but the resentment still exists nonetheless.

So, I’m making my bias known and admitted in this post.

Having watched how things unfolded for Sony and the PlayStation 3 between 2005 and 2008, it’s truly astonishing to see what’s happening with the Xbox One now. I will also admit, I didn’t actually watch the conference and the following is based on a number of pieces of info I’ve gathered from visiting the NeoGAF forum.

There’s a lot of unknown factors yet to be finalized and announced, so I’ll go over the points that bother me most. Most of what I read is particularly bothered by the unknown impact on used games. My main concern there is that from what is reported so far I can’t do something that I did at least once this past generation with the PS3 and would probably do if I were more active and sociable gamer: loan a game disc to a friend. See, based on what is reported so far, I would have to login to my profile on my friend’s machine so they could play the game, but if they want to play it on their own profile, then they have to pay a fee, and not like a small fee either but basically the price of the game. As for trading and/or reselling, there’s not enough known yet but based on the previous example and some other factors I’ll describe next, I am pessimistic as to what that system will end up being.

So, here’s a laugh:
Q: Does Xbox One require an “always on” Internet connection?
A: No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet.

Internet required but not always, just…well, reportedly from one of Microsoft’s executives, 24 hours. But then MS continues to say that they’re still working out the details.

Truthfully, what bothers me most based on what I’ve read is that the Kinect that is boxed with every unit is [i]always[/i] on. There are assurances from Microsoft that there will be privacy options (if you so choose), but how about we have that option by just being able to, I don’t know, turn it off? I simply don’t trust them that these options will suffice.

Another thing I don’t like, petty as it is, is the name. Xbox [i]One[/i]? The idea is that you have an all-in-one entertainment device except that a lot of the functionality touted already exists in multiple devices, such as a PS3 or Xbox 360. It suggests the same kind of backwards thinking represented in the whole console’s reveal (now you have a box to watch TV on your TV that requires a cable subscription you’re already paying!).

I have the luxury of already disliking Microsoft’s console efforts, meaning I’m not particularly attached to any Xbox exclusive games, so the mantra of “just wait for E3” to learn about whatever new games are coming isn’t very convincing. I wasn’t planning on buying one (at least not at launch), but MS has made a very compelling case for not buying one ever.

Will the North American market (since the rest of the world is not likely interested at this point) still be as welcoming to MS despite all its faults when this new console hits? Maybe, though I still hope not. They’re really going to have to justify buying a whole new machine that does a lot of things people are already capable of doing with other advice. I do believe that a success in this invasive approach would be bad for the industry, especially consumer side.

I’m probably forgetting something, but that’s all I’m thinking of now.