The lights are on
Microsoft's E3 press conference is over, and for all of you wishing the Xbox One reveal last month was more about software, the company did not disappoint this time around. But will it be enough?
Of course, the big talker after the press conference was the price of the Xbox One: $499 (£429/€499). The system, which is coming out sometime in November, comes in a single 500GB SKU. The Xbox 360 debuted at the $300/$400 price points back in 2005, and although the Xbox One comes with a Kinect peripheral, $500 is a lot of money. Given that some gamers are content with the current generation of systems, the cost could discourage making the switch. Of course, the Xbox One's price will be compared to that of the PlayStation 4's – which we will hopefully know later today when Sony has its press conference.
While the TV focus of last month's console reveal did not get many gamers going, the choice by Microsoft to focus on software at E3 was a wise one. Not only that, but the company did something that was more and more rare for the Xbox 360 as it got older – supplying it with third-party exclusives and first-party offerings. Titanfall (a console exclusive), Ryse: Son of Rome, Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive, D4, and Dead Rising 3 join first-party titles like Halo (tentative title), Killer Instinct (developed by Rare), Forza 5, and Project Spark for the Xbox One. Microsoft also announced that it has five internal studios working on Xbox One projects at the moment (two of which where shown, a game from Black Tusk and Below from Capybara). Although nobody knows how good these games are, it's good to see Microsoft re-commit itself to having internal studios.
With the exception of perhaps Titanfall and Halo, it's hard to see any of the above as system sellers, but when you have enough content, you don't necessarily have to rely on any one title to do all the heavy lifting for you. Speaking of which, while it's cool to hear that free-to-play PC phenomenon World of Tanks is coming to the Xbox 360, it's too bad that Microsoft didn't take time at the press conference to talk about a broader software strategy – specifically how it's going to attract indie developers. XBLA has been criticized for the cost of its updates and closed structure, so it would have been nice to hear that the Xbox One might be more inviting.
With all this software to talk about, it's no surprise that Microsoft did not wade back into the used game/always-on quagmire. While this may or may not impact gamers' decision to buy the Xbox One, they are topics that still require further elaboration. Similar to the price of the system, Microsoft's choices will likely need some competitive context from Sony before they can be fully judged.
As such, Microsoft has done good work on the software front, but may have left themselves vulnerable on issues such as price and used games.
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