DMZ Counterpoint: What Do You Think of the Xbox One?
Microsoft revealed the next-generation Xbox on May 21, the Xbox One. There’s been a fair amount of discussion and controversy on the Internet over the past week—even amongst our own crew! What do we think? Will we be getting the Xbox One? Here’s what our contributors think. Jump to the bottom of this post to share your thoughts, too.
I’m a gamer who loves media consumption tech, so there was never any doubt about whether I’d buy the next Xbox. Now that we know a little bit about the Xbox One I’m not only buying one, I’ll be pre-ordering it as soon as possible. What little we’ve seen of its gaming abilities looks amazing, but the architecture is what I’m really thrilled about. Instant switching between live TV, apps, games and more sounds fantastic! While it isn’t the perfect TV solution we need to realize that has more to do with the TV industry than Microsoft. As a developer I’m eagerly awaiting the announcement of the development opportunities that will surely be revealed at the Build conference in late June.
I’ve been a nay-sayer based on the pricing rumors, but I’m in. But let me be clear about this: my interest in this box is largely as a video entertainment device—not for gaming. Over the life of my existing Xbox 360 units, I’ve likely used them for media consumption for about 99% of the time. Between the Blu-ray, set-top box pass-through, fast switching, and other entertainment features, this definitely has the potential to become a media hub in my home. And that’s not even considering the recently discussed home control possibilities….
The aftermath of the Xbox One announcement has been full of intrigue, but not the kind Microsoft hoped for. Questions swirling about the fate of used games and just how always connected the new living room behemoth needs to be have pushed aside much of the buzz around the system itself.
In many ways, it’s another example of our current tech media failing miserably at speculation, getting detail after detail wrong in attempts to guess just how bad things are going to be. But Microsoft is not free from blame, far from it. The hours after the announcement left a dizzying trail of misinformation and conflicting statements that Redmond has no one to blame but themselves.
After the dust settled, the answer is we just don’t know. Too much “the sky is falling” hand-wringing has led people to believe the new hardware will spy on them, while forbidding them to play their games on any system but their own, and destroying the used game market.
The answer lies somewhere in the middle, I’m willing to bet. Privacy issues, used games, always-on connectivity. These things will be solved by launch, and a few months after the system is out we won’t be talking about them anymore. Hard core gamers will likely have to get used to a few new realities, but if the games deliver, it really shouldn’t matter.
Most of these questions will be answered at E3 (or they better be for Microsoft’s sake). For me, these issues don’t amount to much. The entertainment options look amazing (thought as a Media Center user I don’t have a cable box), the near-instant task switching is a welcome change, and the new-look Kinect seems amazing. The gaming, what little we’ve seen so far seems to be a generational leap forward, though Microsoft can prove that out at E3.
Will I be buying? If the new system has Media Center (a LOOOOONG shot), my chances increase tenfold. Without Media Center, you won’t see me on launch day, and possibly not for the next 12 months, as I wait and see what the first year after launch brings.
As happens so often with Microsoft, there are two stories with the Xbox One: The raw capacity and vision (which, as typical, is impressive), and their approach and narrative to connect their vision to the needs and desires of consumers (which, as typical, is muddled, Baby-Boomer-style scripted, and analytically-charged while emotionally vacant). The Xbox One is full of promise, but lacking in focus. It is an industrial design yawner, while incorporating the most advanced and comprehensive set of meat-space sensor arrays of any mass consumer device in the history of mankind. As reflected in its case design, it’s a box of two stories: a story of massive mainstream potential alongside a story of questionable practical value for a mainstream audience.
Make no mistake, I’m buying one once it’s $299. But it’s not replacing my Media Center HTPC, which makes it a colossal fail for my practical, mainstream needs of whole-home DVR, combined with on-demand content and streaming in a single, unified interface. But I’m sure it’ll play amazing games.
In 25+ years of gaming, I’ve never approached a console generation with trepidation and fear, two things Microsoft has let surround their Xbox One. Fancy—certainly well vented—gaming hardware that can display football and interrupt movies like an annoying teenager flicking on a cell phone in a theater is all well and good. What is contained in that sleek, mercifully matte black box, is primed to devastate consumer rights and potentially impede media preservation on a scale we didn’t know was possible. It is careless, reckless, and stupid, so no wonder Microsoft took a nationwide audience on Spike TV sans drama. Football! TV! Football! TV! Buzzwords (still) capable of exciting a mass audience, while keeping them blind to an apparently undecided consumer (and small time media) lock-out mechanism that would only benefit publishers.
When Microsoft decides how they want to pile on usage restrictions, I’ll decide if I want their machine.