What We Don't Know About The Xbox One
We've been telling you all day what we know about the Xbox One. Now, let's look at the myriad items on which we are still waiting for information.
Price and Release Date
Unsurprisingly, today's presentation was about what the Xbox One can do for your living room, but not about what it will take to put one in your living room. We've gotten no indication about pricing or whether the rumored subscription-subsidized option is on the table.
What we do know is that the Xbox One will be coming worldwide this year. E3 might reveal information about pricing, but we don't expect a release date until much closer to launch.
The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U all launched with multiple hardware configurations. While today's press conference seemed definitive about hard drive space and the inclusion of Kinect (and its mandatory connection for operation), it's still not clear if Microsoft will be creating two (or more) different options for purchase.
This is one area that should have been addressed head on. Microsoft has only told us that it has a plan to allow users to trade in and resell games. The confusion stems from the mandatory game installation that the system requires. In fact, you won't need to use the disc at all once the game is on the hard drive.
Microsoft has told us that it will have "more details to share later." Can the Xbox One play used games? It seems like it. How will it work? Our Magic 8-Ball says, "Ask again later."
There have been rumors that Microsoft will be eliminating points in favor of real currency transactions. Gamers everywhere would rejoice if they were able to pay for their digital purchases without frustrating conversions.
Avatars were conspicuously absent from today's presentation, as were gamercards. We know that gamer pictures (at least in some form) are coming back, and that achievements and gamerscore are making the leap to next-generation.
Online identities can be shared as gamertags or real names (similar to how Blizzard handles its community), and we understand that users will be able to communicate in some fashion across the generational divide (Xbox 360 and Xbox One).
What we don't know is how we'll be represented in matchmaking and party chat. Are the cute little representations and all their money-making clothing returning on the Xbox One? We don't know.
The Price Of Games
It's too early to know how much retailers will be charging for new games. We also didn't hear anything about whether Microsoft plans to move more aggressively into digital delivery with day-and-date releases via the Xbox Live Marketplace.
Xbox Live Gold
We fully expect that Xbox Live Gold will carry a subscription fee. There is too much money on the table for Microsoft to walk away. What we don't know is if that cost will be rising when the Xbox One arrives and if the service profile will be shifting at all. Advertisements have been a sticking point with some gamers, and how they will be reflected in the new user interface remains to be seen.
Microsoft could open up third-party service delivery to non-Gold members, allowing Netflix, Amazon Instant, and other video apps to reach a wider audience. We do expect that any streaming services and online play to stay behind the paywall. We have been told to expect more information on Xbox Live at E3.
One of the big advantages of the PlayStation 3 over the Xbox 360 was the ability for users to inexpensively swap out hard drives on Sony's machine. We know that the Xbox One will be coming standard with 500 GB of storage space, but whether users will be able to slot in their own, larger hard drives remains to be seen.
Update: We now know that the onboard storage will not be removable, but that external storage solutions will be supported for all functions (including game installation).
Cable TV Compatibility
We saw a lot today on the Xbox One's interoperability with cable boxes already in the living room. We don't know which providers will be supported and which of the existing hardware options (of which there are many) will work nicely with the Xbox One. We also don't know how things will work with high-bandwith digital content protection (HDCP), which can cause issues with playback.
Xbox Live Arcade and Indie Integration
We know that the Xbox One (like the PlayStation 4) will not be backward compatible. What we don't know is how Xbox Live Arcade will grow and adapt in the new generation. We also don't know if and how Microsoft will welcome independent developers into the fold. Currently, Xbox Live Arcade requires a publishing arrangement in order for studios to have their games appear.
Update: New information has emerged regarding self-publishing. It seems that Microsoft will still require independent developers to have a publishing partner.