Opinion: Why I'm Still Not Sold On Xbox One

by Jeff Marchiafava on Jun 25, 2013 at 02:13 PM

After enduring no end of criticism during E3 for its always-online and used-game 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 Cloud
Microsoft 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 Xbox
Microsoft'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 resources.

Still Undecided
Microsoft 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.