The lights are on
Sit down. Grab a paper bag. Breathe slow and deep. It's going to be ok. Yesterday's Xbox One reveal offered a lot of information about Microsoft's vision for next generation, but it also left us with a lot of questions. In less than one month, a lot of those holes are going to be filled in.
Here's what we do know. The Xbox One is designed to be a convergence device that brings together existing television service with games. Kinect 2.0 is critical to the system and will supposedly respond better to voice commands and track gestures with more precision. The idea is to create as seamless an experience across entertainment media.
Yesterday's presentation was about setting the tone for how Microsoft plans to take over the living room. It was about raw capabilities of the hardware, and from a multimedia, non-core gamer perspective, the execution can be considered a success.
We knew in advance we wouldn't be seeing a lot of games. The EA Sports presentation was only impressive in that we learned about the next generation Ignite engine. Quantum Break from Remedy evidenced new exclusive IP and was enough of a tease to garner interest for more information at E3. Call of Duty was on display for the strength of the time-limited exclusivity partnership and the contrast between current generation power and the capabilities of the new hardware. Every title we saw had a purpose for being on that stage, and that wasn't first and foremost to wow gamers.
Microsoft announced that it plans to release 15 exclusive titles in the first 12 months. That's an enormous number, especially if many strive for the core audience like Quantum Break and Ryse will. Had that been it, core gamers would have walked away underwhelmed, but interested in hearing more at E3.
But Microsoft made a significant mistake, failing to keep key personnel on message. In interviews, executives each had different answers to straightforward questions. Conflicting reports bounced back and forth among outlets on two key issues: secondhand games and the Xbox One's connectivity needs. Every time a new comment was made, PR had to sweep up.
Yesterday's tone became about Microsoft's lack of clarity instead of the potential of the hardware. It shifted from excitement about E3's pending game reveals to angst about ownership of those inevitable purchases. The "always online" controversy should have been put to bed once and for all (or at least avoided), and instead it was brought back to the surface. In short, it was a PR stumble that marred the presentation.
Thankfully for Microsoft, E3 is less than three weeks away. The Xbox One will take the stage first on Monday, June 10, and we've been promised that the presentation is heavily weighted toward games (which will mark a nice change from the past three years). Microsoft has 18 days to decide how it wants to explain software ownership, the secondary market, which functions (if any) require Xbox Live "check ins," and how frequently users need to connect.
All is not lost, and anyone who believes it is after just this first bit of information is selling Microsoft's market dominance here in the United States very short. News coming out of E3 is going to fill in the picture for all three platform holders. Let's take a deep breath and give it three weeks before we pronounce anyone dead.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
The presentation wasn't bad yesterday if you overlook the fact that not many of the important issues were addressed otherwise it was pointless advertising to a demographic that wasn't watching.
Regardless whether the assertions of Microsoft representatives are fact or not you cannot ignore how poorly executed their reveal was. I went into yesterday looking for answers yet I left confused and overwhelmed by the negative possibilities surrounding the Xbox One. It was a blunder and they should have been better prepared for the questions they would ultimately receive. So now we are left to stress over the apparent shortcomings of the next Xbox; this is not a state that we as consumers should be left in and it is a massive mistake on Microsoft's part. They are alienating their fans with their lack of transparency and their purported goals. Sony on the other hand has, from the beginning, asserted their values as both friendly to the gamer and the developer alike. They have never shown a hint of the oppressive philosophy that Microsoft is currently embracing and this makes me feel more comfortable supporting their product. Unfortunately, I will still need to purchase an Xbox One for the exclusives like Halo, but I already can say that I will be using the PS4 as my main console based upon the irrefutable direction of the two companies. I am not panicking I am making a rational decision based upon how the two companies are presenting themselves.
If they reveal at e3 that the Xbox One can find the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, then I might get one.
They can announce that they found Jesus and hes bringing us all Chocolate for all I care.
If the system is always online or requires some gestapo check-in system, i will not buy it.
If it blocks used games or requires a fee, I will not buy it.
Ive been playing games for a long time, I know how this game works. Microsoft and Sony will be getting the same 3rd party titles, be comparable in power, and one of them (so far) isn't doing any of the stupid garbage previously mentioned.
If Sony does the same garbage, then it will be Nintendo and Mii and PC makes 3 from now on.
There isn't much more I have to know at this point.
Is Quantum Break seeking a core gaming audience? The publicity stunt of coordinating live-action sequences (TV show?) to directly affect the game does not scream core gaming audience to me. Of course, it seems like the Xbox One is not courting the core gaming audience but the mainstream audience, the widest possible appeal. Quantum Break my very well accomplish this goal.
Microsoft hasn't committed suicide yet, but they did just tie themselves to the bottom of a deep lake.
They're pretty serious about the whole cable box thing. O_o
I have never heard of this Futter guy but apparently he has a reputation of being a bit of a shill. And with this article, I can see why.
Are you serious? Phil Harrison, who last I checked is sort of a big deal in Microsoft, gave very straight forward answers to those questions. And when people exploded over those answers, Microsoft began walking back those comments in a panic. It was MS who began saying those comments were never made and then were only "possible" scenarios.
It was MS who gave answers, then after the backlash claimed they had made no announcements and would announce things later. Their support Twitter was practically tripping over itself with contradictory answers before finally giving up and copy pasting the old corporate talking point of "We have more to announce at a later date. Check out our website for news as it happens."
Microsoft laid out a plan and gamers made it clear the wanted none of it. This article makes it sound like gamers were jumping to unjust conclusions. Gamers jumped to the exact conclusions Microsoft lead them to.