As many readers know, Microsoft revealed its "next-generation" console late in May in an industry press conference. While most gaming enthusiasts hoped that the system would be called the Xbox Infinity as prototypes and leaks suggested, Microsoft released its system as the Xbox One- a system that could put all the entertainment you wanted into one device. To the average person, the name seems kind of catchy, almost entirely fitting for an entertainment console.
The problem however, lies with it being revealed as an entertainment console. The conference revealed that the Xbox One could stream live cable television and access Skype along with Netflix. Don't most devices nowadays hold access to Netflix? I can turn on my iPod or my computer, even my Blu-Ray drive, and access Netflix instantly. The cable television integration is where it really starts to get ridiculous. Not only are there only two cable providers currently supported for Xbox One features, Comcast and one unconfirmed company, but consumers will still have to pay a fee and replace their cable box with this fairly large hunk of machinery. So for those of you that don't have subscriptions to Comcast or don't feel like paying extra to sync your cable to your console, you are out of luck. Next we arrive at the Skype feature. Again, most internet compatible devices can access Skype in this day and age, with the exception of the Nintendo Wii, which isn't saying much. After closely exploring Microsoft's site post May reveal, some fine print on the site stated that there will be fees required for the features of the Xbox One. Of course, they took most of the descriptions of the fees off of their site, along with their used games policy. In addition to the not-so-new television and application features, Microsoft announced that the console would require the use of the Kinect, an auditory motion sensing device, so that the menus could be voice and motion activated. This sounded fairly neat, until it was revealed that the console would not work without the Kinect and that the device would need to always be powered so that it could listen for commands such as, "Xbox on." What does the mandatory addition of the Kinect mean for buyers? Why of course, an increase in price.
The majority of the reveal continued with entertainment features that just made Microsoft seem like it was catering towards casual users. Microsoft even took a stab at supporting sports fans with an additional feature. A newly formed partnership with the NFL added unlimited sports television to the console, for a fee of course.
Most avid gamers watching were constantly asking themselves, "Where are the games? What new gaming features will Microsoft add to the console?" Microsoft certainly added new features, except they were not promising features at all. More or less, they were a series of numerous restrictions placed upon the console to generate Microsoft a steady stream of what it loves most- money. Unfortunately for gamers, the Xbox Live Indie Arcade was removed from the One, along with the ability to play used games. Instead, gamers must register their newly bought games online to their Live account, after which they can do a number of things. First, they can attempt to get permission from Microsoft to sell their used game to gamers who they have been friends with for over thirty days. If the gamer doesn't like that option, they can give the game to a friend, never being able to give another game to that friend again. Finally, if the gamers do not like these options, they are out of luck.
"So I've spent all my hard earned money on a vast library of games and can't even share them with my friend who doesn't have enough money to constantly keep buying games at their retail value?" The simple answer: Yes.
If the used game policies aren't bad enough, Microsoft added some internet policies for their console. Their policies make the company seem like the Big Brother of the video game industry. The console must have access to an internet connection to sign in during startup, and must conduct a single internet check once every twenty-four hours. Of course, that doesn't seem like such a big deal. However, if a consumer is in an area with an unstable internet connection or does not have access to internet 24/7, they are in for a surprise. After detecting no internet connection, the console removes the ability to play games. No one is sure how long the customer will be denied access to games. The Xbox One could shut off its gaming features (the little that it has) for a few hours, a day, possibly forever. In an additional attempt to place restrictions on consumers, Microsoft released a patent that allows for the use of a motion capture device (obviously the Kinect) to detect individuals in a room and conduct automated purchases. This seems like an attempt to put a limit on the amount of people that can rent and watch a movie in a single room without paying extra money. To top all of these disasterous features off, Xbox One requires an Xbox Live Gold membership. Surely not out of the ordinary if a person plays online with the Xbox 360, however this is just to use the basic features of the system. Since it needs to access the Xbox Live servers to connect and gain access to Skype and Netflix and whatever other non-special features Microsoft offers, a user will be forced to shell out $5 a month. A small price for one to pay, but a small amount of features one receives in return.
Microsoft has effectively released a console that does the exact opposite of what it was intended to do. It's no longer a gaming console, but it is a severely limited casual entertainment console. This is backed up by the small amount of Random Access Memory available for gaming: a mere 5 gigabytes, while the Playstation 4 is able to allot 7 gigabytes to games. In addition, it has been announced that users will not be able to upgrade or replace the 500 gigabyte hard drive within the Xbox One, unless they receive assistance from Microsoft. It is impossible to fathom why Microsoft would make such a restricted console. Not only is Microsoft slapping its largest consumers, the gamers, in the face, but it is sending out the message that it does not care about individuals who have long supported Microsoft products. Attempting to redeem itself, Microsoft stated that family members can share games between accounts on their console. Microsoft must be looking for some serious appraisal for including a feature that is basic in any console out right now.
At E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft did two things. It confirmed every single oppressive feature included on its console that was previously questioned and then proceeded to show games. To put it bluntly, the majority of the games that Microsoft revealed seemed pretty poor in quality, with the exception of Ryse and Dead Rising. Other than those games, it was Forza, Madden, and whatever non-blockbuster games Microsoft had left in their arsenal of unamazement. Meanwhile at E3, Sony revealed its Playstation 4 with an incredible line up of games such as Killzone: Shadow Fall, Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy, Watchdogs, Knack, and what seems to be the competitor to Forza, Drive Club. Not only did Sony allow gamers to play used games and run the Playstation off of a disk based infrastructure, but it added onto the previously acclaimed Playstation Plus feature. A small fee of just under $5 a month for membership, except unlike Live you get an instant game library each month, access to exclusive demos, betas, daily discounts, freebies, and online storage. Media wise, the Playstation 4 has the features one would expect, music, video, basic services, and no television integration or required services that take up processing power and limit the functionality of the system. The Playstation 4 even includes a touchpad on its controller along with hardware that makes it exceptional for gaming, specialized for the kind of rich and dazzling graphics that Sony hopes to achieve on its new console. The Playstation 4 seemed to focus intensively on the gaming crowd and was priced at $399 USD, one-hundred dollars less than the Xbox One.
Sony made the right decision in allowing advanced and easily accessible development kits for their system, giving access towards publishing tools and creative software necessary for indie developers to make games for the Playstation 4. Microsoft did the opposite and completely sealed the Xbone One off from development teams and self-publishing game designers. The blunder that Microsoft made was extremely immense and only time will be able to tell if the long standing company sealed its demise.