The lights are on
After enduring no
end of criticism during E3 for its always-online
restrictions, Microsoft reversed
course last week, adopting the offline-friendly policies Sony has planned
for the PlayStation 4. While Microsoft's change of heart eliminates a key
advantage of its rival, the Xbox One and PS4 are still very different consoles,
and right now I'm still not convinced I need to buy the former. Here's why.
Extra Cash For What?The Xbox
One's $499 price tag didn't seem unreasonable when Microsoft first
announced it, but when Sony revealed that the PS4
would cost $399 just a few hours later, it raised some valid concerns amongst
gamers. Despite Don Mattrick's declaration that the Xbox One will provide "thousands
of dollars of value" to gamers, the company hasn't given any indication of
where that value will supposedly come from. Simply saying something doesn't
make it true, and the unique Xbox One features that Microsoft has shared thus
far haven't convinced me to shell out the extra cash.
Better With Kinect?Most speculation points to the upgraded Kinect camera as
being the cause of Xbox One's more expensive price tag, but support for the
peripheral was virtually nonexistent at the show; the most impressive use of
the camera we saw was Harmonix's
Fantasia, which works just fine with the 360's Kinect. I'm not particularly
thrilled about having to set up a mandatory camera in my living room just to play
games, and the fact that I have to pay an extra hundred dollars for the privilege
isn't sweetening the deal. Developers failed to come up with an engaging use for
Kinect in core games this generation, and so far Microsoft hasn't shown any
games to convince me that the next-gen Kinect experience will be any different.
Head In The CloudMicrosoft has been championing cloud computing as a game
changer for Xbox One, and recently invested
$700 million in its Iowa-based server farm. That certainly sounds
impressive, but Microsoft still hasn't explained how "the cloud" is going to
make my gaming experiences better. Respawn's
summary of how Titanfall is using Microsoft's Azure cloud boiled down to
dedicated servers. I fully agree that dedicated servers are better than
player-hosted servers, but it isn't exactly a next-gen game changer. Other
proposed uses of the cloud, like Forza's "Drivatar" have yet to be
demonstrated. Now that Xbox One can be used as an offline console, I wonder how
Microsoft's cloud computing will be affected. Will developers be less likely to
rely on cloud processing knowing offline gamers won't have access to it?
The All-In-One XboxMicrosoft's
unveiling of Xbox One was criticized for focusing too much on television,
sports, and other nongaming entertainment. The company's strong title line-up
at E3 proved the company is serious about gaming, but the fact remains that
many of the console's features are geared towards a nongaming audience.
Microsoft has dedicated 3GB of Xbox One's 8GB RAM to its nongaming
functionalities. As someone who has no interest in watching television on my
gaming console or pulling up Bing to search for information when I'm stuck in a
game, these features are an unnecessary yet mandatory drain on the system's
Still UndecidedMicrosoft has done a good job shoring up impressive
exclusives like Titanfall and Dead Rising 3 for Xbox One, which make me eager
to hear more about the console. Likewise, the company showed off some promising
uses of SmartGlass at E3, which add real gaming value to titles like Dead
Rising 3 and The Division. However, Microsoft still hasn't provided similarly convincing examples of some of Xbox One's core features, and hasn't justified why
consumers should pay an extra $100 more than the PS4. While some audiences may
already be sold on things like Kinect and support for television programming, I'll
remain on the sidelines until Microsoft shows me some real-world examples of
why its vision of the future of gaming is the right one.
Are you sold on the Xbox One? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.