by Angelo Baute
After months of speculation and weeks spent in anticipation for May 21st, Microsoft finally revealed their next-gen console, dubbed “Xbox One.” Unfortunately for this gamer, there were few, if any, worthy disclosures that kept me interested.
First, there was the reveal of the next-gen console’s name. Would it be the obvious “Xbox 720?” Or recently rumored “Xbox Infinity?” After Don Mattrick revealed the new moniker, I nodded in silent approval. My inner Don Draper thought it was simple, iconic, and eliminated what was essentially an arbitrarily assigned number. And don’t think the folks at marketing weren’t aware of of the “subtle” hint of where they believe the Xbox belongs in the console pecking order.
Afterwards, the conference shockingly became very stale. I wasn’t waxing poetic with this article’s headline; I really had a hard time staying awake throughout the whole presentation. Every subsequent announcement didn’t arouse any sensations of surprise or curiosity. The Xbox One will be an all-in-one entertainment hub; well, the recent changes to the Xbox Dashboard has already betrayed Microsoft’s next-gen strategy. Xbox One will feature Kinect-driven controls; well, that’s hardly a surprise. Xbox One will have a new Forza game; that much was obvious. Xbox One will allow you to watch ESPN and the NFL; you can watch ESPN now on the 360 and I’m not a football fan. Microsoft partnered with EA for their new lineup of sports games; these games are annual rehashes. It seemed like Microsoft really had nothing bold and new up their sleeve for the Xbox One.
The few things that weren’t as predictable fell resoundingly flat. I don’t think people were clamoring for an upcoming live-action series of Halo (a close friend of mine, a huge Halo fan, called the announcement “a facepalm”), and as a non-fan of the series, I’m certainly not interested. Quantum Break could have been one of those “I have no idea what it’s about but it certainly looks interesting” moments, but it was too vague to capture any lingering interest (plus mixing live-action videos with games feels so outdated). And was it ever really a surprise that Call of Duty: Ghosts will be part of the next-gen consoles? Despite the marketing rhetoric, Infinity Ward showed nothing to prove that it’s not just this year’s installment with an updated engine (which wasn’t as impressive as DICE’s Frostbite 3.0 for Battlefield 4).
Also not surprising was the deafening silence abou the rumors of an “always online” feature. I’m sure Microsoft wanted a controversy-free reveal, but the Xbox One’s DVR capability all but confirms it.
Did I like anything out of the Xbox One reveal? Yeah, but what I liked didn’t exceed my expectations either. According to the specs they provided, the Xbox One will be comparable to the PS4. I wasn’t expecting Microsoft to come out with an inferior console, but it is comforting to know that I won’t be picking up the lesser of the two if I decide to pick one up. Microsoft announced the Xbox One will arrive “later this year.” I’m no seer with a crystal ball, but I’m probably not alone in thinking it will be available in stores just in time for the crazy holiday season.
It was certainly disappointing Microsoft barely scratched the surface of the new console’s gaming capabilities. From a marketing point of view, E3 is on the horizon and it makes sense to focus on what interests gamers at the year’s biggest gaming event. Today was about reaching out to everyone else, potentially increasing their market share beyond the realm of gaming. Unfortunately, that meant boring me with their hour long presentation. Hopefully there will be more information about additional games, console exclusives, technical capabilities, and other miscellaneous gaming information over the upcoming weeks leading up to E3. June 10 can’t arrive soon enough.
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