Update (June 19th, 2013): Scroll to the bottom of the post.
Whether you are a gamer or not, most people should know about Microsoft’s new competitor in the gaming industry, the Xbox One, which was recently introduced at E3 to the applause of absolutely nobody except a few Microsoft employees backstage.
To be fair, it’s about time for a new Xbox to enter the ring. With the eighth generation of gaming consoles hitting the market this year, including Sony’s Playstation 4, Nintendo’s Wii U, and Valve’s Steambox, Microsoft had to take a step to stay in the competition; a step backward, that is. But instead of boring you with all the details, here’s a rundown of its major issues:
No backwards compatibility. The Xbox One does not offer backwards compatibility with 360 games. Not only that, Microsoft is probably going to do what they did a few years ago: pull all previous console games off the shelves and force you to buy only games for the new one. Say goodbye to your entire 360 library.
More emphasis on television than gaming. If Internet rumors are true, the One purposely does not have high-end graphics, simply because someone at Microsoft thought it was a good idea to focus on general entertainment (i.e. Skype, movie-watching, etc.) than gaming. The limited number of gigabytes allocated to the OS renders the console incapable of being anything more than “a voice and gesture based tv remote box”, as Minecraft creator Markus Persson says on his Twitter feed. It includes a Blu-Ray player, which most people don’t need anyway.
The death of video game rental. Once you buy a game, you need to register it online. The game will be connected to your Live account, and your account only. Want to let your friends borrow it? Too bad. They have to pay a fee to play it, a fee that’s equal to the price of the game itself. Seriously, what were they thinking? Video game rental stores are completely obliterated, not to mention Gamefly, a video game rental service similar to Netflix.
The stalker, Kinect. This one doesn’t annoy me as much, but imagine having that big eyeball connected to the console at all times. Whenever the Xbox One is on, the Kinect will always be watching, and it just so happens to be connected to the Internet. Privacy issues abound. As far as I know, the device is mandatory, and there’s no telling what Microsoft will do with that footage of your house.
Online DRM (A bigger problem than you think). I was really hoping Microsoft would know better. Shouldn’t they have known EA’s SimCity 5 was immensely panned by critics for having online-only DRM, in which the game had to be registered on the Internet every time just to check for piracy? What if your Internet connection broke in a storm. No games for you, despite singleplayer games not requiring the Internet anyway. In the case of SimCity, EA’s CEO abdicated the throne in frustration after the game received thousands of one-star reviews on Amazon. I wonder how long Gates will be up there.
Lack of descent games. Sure, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, and Watch Dogs are coming to the system. But those games are still available on other platforms, most of which allow you to share the game with friends without having to pay a “used game” fee. At the E3 conference earlier this year, very few games were showcased.
Downright ugly design. The Xbox One looks pretty good… had it been released in the seventies. The console’s simplistic design looks more like an old VCR than a technologically-advanced gaming device.
The only positive I can think of is the design of the controller and how the joysticks offer vibration feedback. I can’t wait to use it on Steam Big Picture.
Conclusion: If you’re into gaming, upgrade your PC, buy a PS4, or at least get a Wii U, because Microsoft just failed twice in one year. First it’s Windows 8, an absolute flop in the OS market, and now it’s this One big step back in the gaming industry. Sorry, Microsoft. I’m sticking with my PC.
UPDATE (June 19th, 2013): http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update
Okay then. It seems Microsoft does care. They completely reversed the online-only DRM decision and removed the used game fee (hence the nickname “Xbox 180”. I think I’ll pre-order the console now. After all, even large companies like Microsoft can’t ignore their customer’s voice for too long. I appreciate their decision to follow public feedback.