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What Developers Are Saying About Xbox One

by Matt Bertz on May 28, 2013 at 08:14 AM

You know what we think about the Xbox One, but what about the creative minds that may or may not eventually develop for Microsoft's nascent platform? We asked several developers, from creative director's on triple-A blockbusters to independent designers working on their own about their hopes and reservations. This is what they have to say.

Peter Molyneux, 22 Cans
Current Project: Godus
Previous Games Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Black & White, Fable, Curiosity
I think they did a fantastic presentation. They do those unveils incredibly well. I'm a gamer at heart. I love gaming and I love playing with my console. If I judge it in gaming terms, I didn't see enough meat on the bones or get enough details. I didn't see enough demos or games that stretched the system. There seemed to be a bit of fog of war going on, showing behind the scenes and meshwork and animation and motion capture. I've seen that a thousand times before. I just want to see what this console, the Xbox One, can do for me as a gamer. I think for me there was a little too much emphasis on what else it can do. I just want the ultimate gaming console, and I'm not sure that's what I got from that presentation.

Brad Muir, Double Fine
Current Project: To be announced
Previous Games: Iron Brigade, Brazen, Brutal Legend, Psychonauts
Microsoft's Xbox One press conference felt like it was targeted at a really wide audience, which makes sense considering the way they're positioning the hardware as the only-set-top-box-you'll-ever-need.  I'm more interested in their plans for gaming but I really want to give them the benefit of the doubt and see what they bring to E3.

I'm hoping to hear more about Microsoft's plan for indie developers!  It sounds like they're going to unify the store a bit so that smaller games will be alongside the larger AAA titles.  I think that will go a long way to making the store more interesting and diverse, though this does mean that it will be even more important for them to address discoverability issues on the dashboard.  I hope they have solid plans for ways to shine a light on cool games that may be flying under the radar.  The new options for seeing trending games and suggestions based on what your friends are playing sounds really cool and are a step in the right direction for sure.  I love the idea of a small, innovative game getting a lot of attention through that feature and winning over tons of new gamers that wouldn't have otherwise been exposed to it!

Overall I'm really excited to see what they bring to E3.  It should prove to be a super interesting show with both Sony and Microsoft bringing new hardware at the same time.  I hope that the players really benefit from the competition that's bound to come out of it!

Edmund McMillen, Team Meat
Current Project: Mew-Genics
Previous Games: Super Meat Boy, Gish
As a gamer, most of what was shown in the press conference wasn't at all for me. I buy consoles to play games, and good games are the only reason to own a console in my opinion.

Seven years ago I hooked one of my PCs up to my TV and I never looked back, so the media PC that Microsoft seems to be pushing isn't something that excites me in the slightest. I purchased an Xbox 360 because of Braid, N+, Castle Crashers, Rock Band, and Fallout 3. As a gamer, Xbox One won't be something I'll be looking into buying till I see some amazing exclusive blockbuster titles or amazing exclusive indie games.

As a developer it really saddens me that none of the previous XBLA titles will be making their way to the Xbox One cross platform. The lack of indie games in general makes me as a developer look at the Xbox One as a media PC first and a gaming console second. I've grown tired of gimmicky tech and I own a media PC that is hooked up to my television.

The biggest pull as a dev to develop for a system is if that system can sell video games. Currently, it looks like Xbox One wants to sell TV a lot more than it sells games, and video isn't my chosen medium. 

Tommy Refenes, Team Meat
Current Project: Mew-Genics
Previous Games: Super Meat Boy
Based on what has been revealed, the Xbox One doesn't offer anything that my living room doesn't already have or anything that I feel I need. I have a PC with a CableCard adapter hooked to the TV in my living room, I don't have any desire to use Kinect, and I'm not interested in COD or any of the EA Sports titles.

I know E3 will reveal more games, which could convince me that I need an Xbox One, but that remains to be seen. I see what they are doing though; they are trying to breed a gaming console with a Blu-Ray player with a DVR to get some sort of super all in one machine that the general population accepts as the new essential part of the living room, like the DVD player was years ago and the DVR is now. The first company that can pull that off will win big.

I think pricing will determine if Xbox One can be this or not. If they throw a high price tag on it, they are putting a niche price on a device that is for the mass market and it will remain niche. If it's reasonably priced and works as advertised...they could have something.

That said, give me five amazing flagship Xbox One titles I can't play on Steam and I'll buy one.

Alex Hutchinson, Ubisoft Montreal
Current Project: To be announced
Previous Games: Assassin's Creed III, Spore, The Sims 2, Army of Two: The 40th Day
There's nothing more exciting to me than the smell of new plastic and the first viewing of a boot screen for a new console (advance apologies to my wife and son). It's a moment filled with hope and promise, and a higher than usual concentration of new IPs alongside the unavoidable upscaled versions of current gen games. People have been disappointed with the launch (and often first year) of every new console as far back as I can remember, primarily because they confuse an inanimate piece of hardware with the games that it will eventually deliver. This generation will be all about software.

While the hardware announce for both consoles was more than a little flat (and filled with stuff I don't personally care about, like TV access and sports news) I know a bunch of games that are in the pipe and I couldn't be more excited. We've finally moved beyond 'new graphics' and 'more polys' being the primary selling point, and into the much harder problem of selling new experiences and fresh content. This is the tipping point for the role of games in society for the foreseeable future: we can't rely on cheap tricks anymore. Make games that people care about.

Ian Cummings, Zynga
Current Project: To be announced
Previous Games: Madden NFL 12, Woodland Heroes

Even though I've been out of console dev for a couple of years and have been in the social and mobile space during that time, I'm not one of those guys that are preaching an imminent fiery death to all consoles and the Xbox One is the foreshadowing of said death. Microsoft sure has a challenging road ahead of it, but its push towards making the Xbox One the ultimate living room box in my opinion is the best thing they can do. As people continue to expand their gaming habits outwards to tablets and phones (and even laptops or TV connected PC's), the one thing that will remain constant is the big TV hooked up to all your best gear…and the Xbox One has some great features to make sure it's right dead smack in the middle of that scenario. Sure, there are some weird and unnecessary things in there (browsing IE with my voice while watching a movie? Uh, what? My phone and tablet will win that battle to IMDB that random actor every time.)

Unfortunately, I think fear has driven them into a few major missteps, one of which is the online-only requirement (which I sure hope they will drop after enough backlash makes its way up the chain). Another is the lack of legit support for indie game development, which again I believe is the fear of that stealing too much thunder from their premium AAA quality games. Those two things really bummed me out the most, and both could end up being key points that allow Sony to win with PS4. 

Though I do obviously believe the console market will continue to shrink while the tablet and PC gaming markets continue to grow (which is why I switched into the latter), it's hard to deny that Microsoft and the Xbox One still have a lot to offer to take that great spot in your living room for the kick-back-and-totally-escape-from-your-mundane-life gaming experience. Even with all the annoyances, I'll buy one.