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Yesterday, Microsoft finally lifted the veil on their next-generation prospects and introduced the Xbox One. Boasting a new Kinect, a new controller and robust media options, the Xbox One is definitely a sleek device that looks to empower the living room. Add nearly life-like graphics to the mix and you've got a contender for the next generation of game consoles that's looking to steal some of the PlayStation 4's thunder.
From what I gather, the Xbox One will pride itself on being the stand-out device of the living room--combining video games with movies, TV, and everything else that brings families together. Whereas the PS4 will harbor the same video-sharing and streaming capabilities and the same TV integration that Wii U's Nintendo TVii offers, Xbox One is shaping up to be a unique specimen: an all-in-one device with built-in DVR, an HDMI IN port presumably for plugging your cable or satellite receiver into, and Skype group calling thanks to Kinect 2.0.
Some of the more controversial aspects of the console seem to have been confirmed yesterday, too. There are conflicting reports about the always-on connection; some reports are suggesting it won't be necessary for single-player games and such, but other sources are claiming that Xbox One will need to be connected to the Internet for at least one hour a day. Either way, it looks like Microsoft needs to make some clarifications before revealing more info at E3.
The aspect of Xbox One that concerns me most is how it will handle used games. It's been confirmed that the console will require games to be installed, with the added caveat of not having to ever re-insert the disc. However, sources indicate that there will be a mandatory fee to play used games, which could be priced up to that of a full retail title. If that's the case, it's a troubling one that could hurt Microsoft or even worse, the stores that rely on used game sales to keep business afloat. In the end, it comes off as more of a slap in the face to the consumers than anyone else.
It brings up some questions. How will that work with consoles that have separate accounts? Will my friends have to pay those fees in order to play a game they might only check out for a few hours? If so, does anyone over at Microsoft think they're willing to actually pay up? I know gaming's not supposed to be the cheapest hobby on the planet, but this used games idea seems a little ridiculous. Unless I'm looking at it the wrong way, doesn't it seem like consumers will be paying more to play used games on Xbox One than playing brand-new games on there?
That's my initial take on Xbox One. Of course yesterday's news was only the beginning; in the coming weeks I'm sure some things will change or some new announcements will be made, but until then it's not looking like Microsoft has me convinced that I need this.
Now that Xbox One has been revealed, how is this next-generation shaping up? Well, I'll give my own perspective on its chief competitors; Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U.
After yesterday's reveal, I saw endless waves of tweets from gamers vowing to get a PS4 instead of Xbox One. they have good reasons for it too; matching up the hardware specs of the two consoles, other than hard drive space (which hasn't been detailed for PS4 yet) the two consoles seem to closely match up with each other. Also, looking at the track record of exclusivity, it would seem that Sony may have the upper hand for now when it comes to games. Also, the idea of sharing gameplay videos and even gameplay itself with your friends almost sounds too good to be true, and that's something Sony can (and should) be strong about when it comes to showing off the PS4 in the coming months leading up to launch.
However, Sony and Nintendo both did a similar thing while revealing their next platforms; instead of revealing the hardware itself, all they did was show off the controller. While this may seem trivial to most, it's still important for consumers to know exactly what they're getting excited about, which is something that Microsoft got right yesterday. I don't think that'll hurt Sony's bottom-line in the end though.
Overall, I think Sony has a strong chance to outshine Xbox One this holiday, especially if all the Tweets have any say at all.
I'd be a blind fanboy if I said Nintendo is doing just fine. I know they're struggling, and given those hardware specs I know a lot of core gamers are simply laughing at the console. Does that mean it has to keep struggling though? No way! If you think about it, Nintendo can use this current versus match between Microsoft and Sony to their advantage. Like I said in a previous blog post, Nintendo can still impress gamers with their E3 proceedings without having to do a major keynote. Nintendo plans to reveal some heavy-hitter first-party titles during E3, such as Smash Bros. and Mario Kart. These heavy-hitters go on to become console sellers as history has shown.
Great games are just a part of it though. Anyone who's been following the Wii U knows that Nintendo hasn't been very wise with their marketing decisions. Well, they have another six months to market the Wii U, show off those heavy-hitters and dare I say it, announce a price cut. Those three factors alone give it a fighting chance at moving many consoles during the holiday rush. The price cut is especially important. Many gamers would have never bought a 3DS in 2011 if it weren't for the $80 price drop in August of that year. That's why I feel like with the proper marketing and a price drop, Nintendo could quietly win sales during the holidays.
By the way, stop saying Wii U isn't next-gen. Sure, it may not boast the hardware specs of its competition. Obviously, games will look more on-par with PS3/360 than the new guys, but as any gamer knows, gameplay substance takes huge precedence over graphics and style. I'm not saying every last great-looking game out there is terrible, but if we went by graphics and only graphics, Journey and other indie titles would be undeserving of their praises. So please, enough of the "Wii U isn't next-gen" crap.
So how do you feel regarding the Xbox One? Will you be getting one, or are you content with what you've got now? PS4 or Wii U, anyone? Let me know in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading my blog!
DISCLAIMER: Obviously, at the moment a lot of the stories (even the ones on the big game journalism sites) have some speculation blended with truth. It's obviously not my intention to spread lies or misinformation, I've based this on what I currently know.