Editor's Opinion: Xbox One
Posted by Ken Barnes
Jumping into the next generation feet first.
Welcome to the next generation, everyone. How are you liking it so far?
If you took social media’s word for it, you’d think that Microsoft had turned up at their custom-built Xbox Reveal tent in Redmond, lined up a bunch of kittens on stage, and offered everyone in the crowd the chance to take potshots at them with a sniper rifle. The traditional gamer mentality of “It’s new…it isn’t as good as <insert favourite console name here>. I don’t like it” has kicked in with aplomb, and the new machine is being slated all over the show.
Which was to be expected, given that the word “gamer” can pretty much be interchanged with the word “sceptic” as and when you feel like it nowadays. Microsoft could have told everyone that the console was free, would be delivered to their door today, and that everyone would get fifteen full-priced games bundled in the box as a gift with it, and there still would have been a few million people complaining about the fact that they couldn’t get the machine in Super Nintendo grey, or that the console requiring the freely-bundled Kinect device to be connected is part of the Iluminati’s plan to try and catch tax evaders, so they’re having none of it.
Premature scepticism aside, I was impressed with the machine itself. I like the look of the console – it seems like the designers have played right into my wheelhouse and struck that nice balance between modern and retro – and the rumble triggers on the newly-refreshed controller could prove to be far more useful than other “innovations” that we’ve seen over the years. An accelerator “pedal” that "fights" against you as you try to barrel out of a corner? Nice. With proper thought and consideration, those triggers could have more of a say in the progression of the story of the next generation than we can imagine right now.
There was a lot of information about the way that you can watch TV on the Xbox One. A LOT. But to be fair, that was a given. Especially considering how many people now use games consoles as alternatives to ad-filled television stations that show nothing but hideous, society-melting bile such as Made in Chelsea, Britain’s Got Talent, and The Only Way is Essex 24/7. What they showed of the TV services looked good but as usual, we in Britain will have to wait to see exactly how much of it will actually be available to us once the console reaches our shores.
Short and Sweet
The presentation wasn’t a long-winded corporate trumpet-blowing session like Sony’s was, but yet Microsoft got more information out there all the same. Within the first five minutes, we’d seen the console, new Kinect device, and controller, and also spied the logo and heard the name. Due to the information that Microsoft provided both at the event and after it, we’re in a far better position to judge the Xbox One than we are the PlayStation 4, but that doesn’t mean that we should.
Why? Well, we haven’t seen many games yet, have we? As gamers, isn’t that the point of it all? Microsoft TOLD us that we wouldn’t see many games. This reveal event was for the hardware. The games will be on show at the E3 press conference in three weeks. Yet still the naysayers will go on with their naysaying. “They haven’t got anything to show!” “Oh no, look! They’ve only got Call of Duty and FIFA! Ha, ha!” Microsoft have got a bunch of stuff to show, and they’ll do it at E3.
As they said quite clearly.
More than once.
That preowned thing
One of the main issues that has people declaring that Sony will win this particular race and that the Xbox One will fail horribly, is that Microsoft have confirmed that there will be a charge in place for playing preowned games. Whether that charge is the full retail price, or just a nominal fee, we don’t know.
Let me reiterate that.
WE. DON’T. KNOW.
Some people at Microsoft are saying that if you want a second-hand game, you’ll have to pay the full price to reactivate it. Some are saying that it’ll be less than a quarter of the new price. Some are saying that it’ll be less than a fiver.
What we do know, is that Microsoft have confirmed that a system will be in place for resellers, so the likes of Gamestop and GAME won’t just suddenly stop being able to sell preowned games. I imagine that there will be some sort of activation code on a card, that the retailer can bundle in with their preowned game in order to allow a buyer to activate it anew. Browsing around for any bargain gems that you may have missed may be a thing of the past though, as those cards will undoubtedly end up being reflected in the second-hand sale price. This isn’t something I’m particularly happy about but there’s nothing to be done about it, as I’m relatively sure it’ll soon become a part of the cost of doing business on all platforms.
That’s right. Another thing that folks seem to have overlooked as they declare that Sony is clearly the winner of the next generation, is that Sony haven’t said anything about their plans for preowned yet. You can bet your bottom dollar that if a publisher has the chance to produce a game for either console, and has the option of taking the cut they make from the first sale on the PS4, or taking the cut they make from the first sale and then a bit of money for every resale after that on the Xbox One, they’ll go for the bigger bucks every time. If Sony doesn’t come out and charge people for using second-hand discs, or block preowned games from being played altogether, then their offering suddenly becomes a lot less tempting from a fiscal perspective for both publishers and developers alike.
It might be worth thinking about that before declaring Microsoft to be the big bad wolf.
Plus – and this won’t be a popular opinion – publishers and developers deserve to turn a profit. In some cases, it gives them the ability to take a punt and invest on the titles that everyone is calling for as they berate – and then subsequently buy – all the big franchise titles. Of course, some companies will just store the extra cash and announce record profits, but there are some out there that will use that new influx of cash to create and publish more content. There are people out there that solely use preowned games. They buy hardware that doesn’t make the platform holder a great deal of profit, if any at all, then they buy games that don’t make the people that developed or published the game any money. I’m not saying that they’re doing anything wrong by taking this route – far from it, since I have a large collection of preowned games myself – but in some cases, these are the same people that object to paying for Xbox Live, complain about the quality of games on offer, and object to seeing the occasional ad appear on their Xbox Dashboard.
Games don’t make themselves. And they don’t appear for free, either. Microsoft will undoubtedly pass money back to the publishers as a result of preowned reactivations – and that’s a good thing at least some of the time.
I don't care about the name of the console. I play games. It really is that simple.
If you expected more from the Xbox Reveal event, then you’ve only got a few short weeks to wait until Microsoft rolls out the games at E3. My purchasing decision was obviously very unlikely to be swayed, but the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will - by hook or by crook - take up residence in my entertainment unit when they launch later this year. Depending on the offering, my cable box might get punted out of the window to make space. Microsoft got the job done well enough in Redmond, but it seems that their “console now, games at E3” message needed to be flashed up on the screen every few minutes so that the usual crowd of complainants and fanboys would have had a chance of understanding...
On to E3!