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How Xbox One Could Be Xbox Won

This is much bigger than just a new video game console.

by
Stephen Green

Bio

May 23, 2013 - 12:00 pm
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New XBOX ONEWired has an excellent writeup of the new Xbox One. It was just revealed to the public yesterday, but Peter Rubin got to spend some quality time with one over the last few weeks — the lucky bastard. It’s an impressive piece of hardware, like any new console should be. But here’s what I think makes it a winner:

When the 360 launched, smartphones hadn’t yet trickled out of the corporate world; Netflix was strictly a DVD delivery service; the “cloud” was something that got in the way of a suntan. (Hell, in 2005, people suntanned.) And a big part of the 360’s longevity was Microsoft’s ability not only to develop games but also to forge partnerships that took advantage of these new staples of online life. So as those deals proliferated, so did the things the Xbox 360 could do. People played Halo 3 on their Xbox, but they also watched Netflix. They bought Kinect sensors for controller-free experiences, but they also burned through seasons of Deadwood on HBO Go and caught sports highlights on an ESPN app. But all of this new functionality was built on patches and firmware updates. The 360 simply wasn’t constructed that way, so when the Xbox One was greenlit in the fall of 2011, “the decision wasn’t, ‘We need a gamebox,’” Whitten says. “It was, ‘We need a living-room experience.’” Built that way from the ground up.

This is Microsoft playing at the absolute top of its game (no pun intended). They’ve leveraged everything they’ve learned about gaming, consoles, services, and streaming, and worked them together into a single system. To call the Xbox One a mere “console” is to undersell what it is and what it does. This is an entertainment system-in-a-box, all for a few hundred dollars.

How was Microsoft able to do this, when they’ve pretty much flubbed every single other consumer device they’ve tried to build in the last few years? How did the company that build the ill-fated Zune with its infamous “Squirt” feature manage to get something so spectacularly right?

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All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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I think the fact that neither PS4 or XB1 is reverse compatible with previous generation games will have a lot of players switching teams to see what the fuss is about. Microsoft happened to announce the Orwellian, non-disconnectable, Internet-mandatory, can-read-your-heartbeat Kinect roughly the same time that we learn the government is being intensely intrusive and Microsoft is complicit. Add to that the science of predictive analytics that the public is finally realizing that maybe having a permanently-on camera in the living room with sensitive microphones that can read your heartbeat from across the room isn't the best use of $500. They may switch to PS4 unless they are just that into Halo. Kinect was an interesting idea but it was always frustrating to use in every game, so you spent roughly as much time compensating for its failures as you did playing the game.
After all, a refresh should be refreshing. If XB1 is like XB360 even more so, I may be tempted to see if PS4 is less so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sony absolutely should not have lost the current console generation to Microsoft. They did. Part of the reason for that loss was because the Playstation 3 was a console designed by committee. It was to be a platform to spur the adoption of Blu-Ray, to facilitate movie and music sales, an Internet set-top box, and a local media hub. Tying it all together was a processor architecture that Sony invented for seamlessly connecting AV components. Oh yeah, it was also supposed to play games.

Microsoft ate their lunch. They did it by designing a platform that focused on games and online matchmaking via Xbox Live.

Not that the 360 is all that great a console these days. A few times every year, Microsoft updated the OS of the console to include additional functionality. The majority of these new features were not games-related, but some of them were truly excellent. For instance, when Netflix first hit the 360, it was a revelation. I spent all of my time either playing games or watching Netflix on my 360. I was in heaven.

Then the Kinect came along, and Microsoft re-designed the 360 OS to accommodate it. I hated it. The Kinect-friendly modifications to Netflix ruined the app, so I started watching Netflix on my PS3. Soon after that, I purchased a "Smart TV" with a native Netflix app, and my streaming video has never been smoother or looked as good.

I watched the Microsoft unveiling of Xbox One. I counted the minutes until they started talking about games. TWENTY-NINE of them went by before that happened. I was aghast. I will be in the minority here, but I'm going to throw this out: I don't like or watch broadcast or cable television. I hate commercials. I hate having to wait a week to find our what happens in the show I'm watching. I don't have cable service because I'm NOT going to subsidize channels that I don't watch. I. DON'T. CARE. ABOUT. TV. I. WANT. GAMES.

Ironically, it's Sony that now seems to be putting games and gamers front and center in their messaging for Playstation 4. I will freely admit to being a huge Xbox fanboi (I was at the midnight launch for both the Xbox and the 360, and am a Day 1 user of Xbox Live), but the PS4 is the console that I currently have my eye on.

I expect that both Microsoft and Sony will seek to redesign the landscape of console gaming, and I don't anticipate that I will welcome all of the changes. However, gaming is and will continue to be an expensive hobby. I WILL choose the console that offers me the greatest freedom in terms of how I use MY expensive hardware, and play MY expensive video games.

We'll know more after E3. I paraphrase Extra Credits when I suggest that Microsoft had better darn well have the show of their lives. Otherwise, Xbox One may very well be Xbox Done.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actual gamers seem to think it's awful. Most gaming message boards have been in pitchforks and torches mode since the announcement.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're missing a few things.

There are no shortage of "hubs" available to connect your TV to internet services. All of which have no monthly subscription cost (unlike XBox Live), have a much lower pricepoint than the XBox1, are purpose-built for the task, and have excellent market penetration. The market is saturated.

The DVR functionality is cool. Unfortunately, cable companies and satellite companies already provide them as part of their contracts. It's hard to compete with free.

You can use it to Skype. Just like I can with at least four other devices already in my living room.

It isn't backward compatible, and reports are that used games are about to be severely restricted. So if I wanted to play any of the games already in my library, I'd need to have two game consoles hooked up. And be resigned to paying $65+ per game, forever.

I'm predicting a disaster of Zune-like proportions. It doesn't really provide anything new. It costs significantly more than already-available options. And the business plan seems to be to drive away those interested in buying a gaming console for the purpose of gaming.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't think that's the case. Certainly not for me with DirecTV, if I want a Tivo, I have to pay extra.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I disagree. I don't need a $500 all in one media device. My media center currently consists of a $100 blu ray that does 90% of what the new xbox will do and a $200 xbox 360 (which I bought because World of Warcraft was sucking out my soul). I wouldn't be surprised if my next blu ray player had games also. If not, I can build a pretty good game and media PC for far less than the XBox One.

Also, I don't like that much money tied up in a single point of failure, especially with a Microsoft device. My son's 360 dvd drive crapped out and he started talking about getting a whole new machine. "Nonsense" says I, "dvd drives cost 20 bucks". What I didn't realize is that Microsoft went out of it's way to make such things non-user serviceable. (Such as adding an extra board to the drive which ties it to the motherboard.) It would have cost me $80 to replace that drive (my labor being free of course). So to Target with some coupons we went.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes^, gunmetal got my first point of disagreement, Steve. A $500 roku? Another option would be a $100 cheaper PS4, or getting a great price as what some have described as the best choice for someone looking for a blu-ray player and smart box in one with the most options possible -- the PS3 (which will still have new games for at least 3.5 more years). My point is while Microsoft *has* done the media center things you describe, Sony hasn't been left behind... and they don't charge you a monthly fee for their network. Point #2: Gamers lead the way in console sales. Casual, emerging, or non-gamers will very likely be asking the gamers in their lives which of these two systems they should get and "the cheaper one" (PS4) and "the one I have so we can play together" (often PS4, the way things seem now) will be rather common answers. It's also true there may be a few "get the other one so I can come over and play the exclusives with you" but that's a harder sell. Point #3: You don't make money selling console hardware, with the game industry this big you make money by locking in future game purchases to your console. Slowpoke Nintendo has finally realized this and is selling Wii U's at a loss, while Microsoft and Sony seem to be roughly breaking even on console sales since at a time like this with some areas of their businesses failing, neither have the kinda cash to burn that Nintendo does. So, hardcore gamers who A) buy the most games and B) often want to buy games when they're still hot and still $60, absolutely DO still determine the victor of the 8th console war. (Oh and Sony has indeed revealed their system, in every way except the console's looks they were first or about tied.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>the glorious year of our Lord and Savior Barack Obama 2018
>go into the doctor's office
>sie (gender specific pronouns were outlawed in 2014) says that you're no longer covered under the Peoples' Affordable Care Act
>"Kinect has been reporting on your activity, Mr Green"
>"It seems you've had too many Doritos in the past week, your blood pressure has gone through the roof!"
>Xbox Two was released in late 2017, boasting a new third generation Kinect sensor with DHS and NSA uplink in case someone playing Call of Duty begins to get upset. Millions of children's lives have been saved already.
>"Your premium is not allowed to go up, but we are also unable to perform the surgery you need to remove that cancer Kinect just found"
>"I'm afraid you're going to have to be...dis-Kinected"
>You fall to your death in the Rancor pit
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"What they don’t get it, consoles — at least this console — isn’t about hardcore gamers anymore. They just aren’t a big enough market for the stakes involved. The only reason Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo were able to sell as many last-generation consoles as they did, was by moving well beyond gamers, by adding lots of entertainment- and family-friendly features."

If this were true then every generation prior to the last was a fluke. Of course, the truth is a little more complicated than that. Microsoft is going into uncharted territory with this system. One of the biggest disappointments about the reveal was that it concentrated more on the alternative features than it did on its core purpose which is games. Certainly E3 is about that, but Microsoft allowed Sony to get the jump on it by concentrating more on games. All three systems (Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 4) will be able to stream content. Xbox One is the only one that forces you to use an extra accessory to be able to use the system as a whole.

I'll reserve judgment because I am going to get both anyway, but predicting Microsoft will have its way over Sony (Nintendo might be looking for a way out early this generation but I won't count them out) is a bit premature.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The 'always on' Kinect is creepy as hell because you can't use the X-box One without it connected.
Not even once.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
MS filed a patent that allows it to read how many people are in the room, and charge for more licenses when watching films

***http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220120278904%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20120278904&RS=DN/20120278904
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Kinect 2.0 info (Orwellian Spybox general):
Must be plugged in for next Xbox to even power on
games and movies won't work if no one is in frame (i.e. can't just block it)
detects heat signitures
track IR works even in total darkness
always listening even powered down
reads emotions
MS filed patent to allow it to personalize ads based on these emotions
MS filed a patent that allows it to read how many people are in the room, and charge for more licenses when watching films
can detect heart rate
Finance Director suggested it could target ads based on conversations people in the room are having
can see through thin objects
always on
always listening
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No way, no how. I respect your opinion as PJ's gadget guru, but Microsoft has just given every single core gamer the finger in search of the "casual looking for a set-top entertainment experience". In my belief, that may be more of a myth in the current marketplace than "moderate Muslim".

The mad dash to shove retailers out of the equation when it comes to game software, the start of the earnest push toward full digital distribution (pissing of collectors who want their physical media to have value), the cancelling out of the online licenses for downloaded games on their previous system (meaning once someone's 360 is dead, those games are gone forever. The license won't be able to be transferred to another 360, and the games won't be on a server to re-activate the local license post-transfer), the absolute lack of backward compatibility (which I accept may have been a necessary evil if the hardware is different enough, but it still pushes away the core market that has grown to expect such a feature).

I know you've already made your update (making most of my last paragraph irrelevant to you), but I don't think Microsoft is going to bring in more people than they drive off with this. I'm also not sure that this is really going to drag people away from similar (non-game) entertainment-delivery services on their PCs or Tablets. It doesn't seem like an untapped market to me at all. Possibly if it was a service built into a television itself (not that I have much grasp of the feasibility of that as a business model...), but as just another "set-top", I don't see many people who are already running the HDMI-OUT from their PC having any desire to change gears there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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