Earlier today Microsoft held a press conference to reveal their next generation console – The Xbox One. During this reveal, speakers discussed the very basics of the Xbox One and what games it will feature, promising to offer more information at E3. In this post I will basically recap the event basics and then discuss my thoughts on the big reveal with you. Let’s get started with the console itself:
Microsoft started off the conference with Don Mattrick, Xbox President, taking the stage. He set the scene for the console by recapping the history of the Xbox console and showing the leaps forward that the company has taken. Bringing up Xbox Live and the Kinect as well as how they want to “evolve” and stay “looking forward”. After his speech he revealed that the next generation Microsoft console would is titled Xbox One.
They then proceeded to show a computer animated showcase of the console, the controller, and the Kinect up close and personal. After the video, and actual Xbox One with Kinect and controller was brought to the stage and remained there throughout the conference. Mattrick introduced Yusuf Mehdi, Senior Vice President of the Online Audience Business Group at Microsoft Corp., who came out to talk about the system’s interface. He showed off how the Kinect and the console work together with your television and smart devices for an “all in one experience”. Mehdi showed the dashboard of the Xbox One as well as how the Kinect will be a mandatory peripheral which will help users to switch inputs simply by saying a set of words. The Xbox One can switch between games, the dashboard, television, and more. It also knows your voice and signs you in automatically upon telling the Xbox to turn on.
Some of the new features to the dashboard include the “Trending” tab which will show users what their friends are playing or watching. The “instant switching” feature works on every app the console will offer. Users can switch from a game to a movie to a music app just by saying a few words. The Xbox One can also multitask with the “snap mode” feature, a feature that allows multiple programs and apps to run at the same time without any lag or slow down. New gestures have also been added so that moving around the dashboard can be as simple as moving your hands around. Those of you that use Skype will be happy to know that the Xbox One supports Skype video chat through the Kinect and users can video chat while doing anything else on the console, even while playing games. The “interactive TV” feature is said to bring the television experience right to the console, thus embodying the “all in one” slogan.
Next on the stage was Marc Whitten, Corporate Vice President, Xbox LIVE at Microsoft Corporation, who talked briefly about the hardware of the Xbox One. Whitten described the connection to Cloud storage system and smart devices. He mentioned some of the specs and features such Blu-ray capability. He also mentioned that with game development the creators will have no restrictions and that the console is “flexible, powerful, simple.”
Whitten also talked about the controller and how it is re-imagined updated. The Kinect is also undergoing an update allowing it to do much more that it was previously capable of doing, including a new sensor and camera. He mentioned the Smart Glass app and it’s connectivity to the Xbox One as well as the fact that this console is “anchored by the Kinect”.
Xbox Live was briefly mentioned, they stated that it was based on the same membership that users already have, but not much more was said. There was also a short mention of being able to record and share from the system itself, but again they didn’t go into much detail.
At this point in the conference the game developers and publishers took the stage to show off some of the games the Xbox One will offer. First up was EA’s Andrew Wilson with EA Sports games. EA has partnered with Microsoft and will be released 4 next-gen sports titles on the Xbox One: FIFA, UFC, NBA Live, and Madden Football. Wilson also brought up the new EA Sports game engine called “Ignite” and showed off some of its capabilities.
Next was Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios, with some information about what Microsoft Studios will bring to next-gen. He mentioned that the focus is on storytelling, player immersion, and personal features and that we can expect new and innovative games in the future. Me briefly mentioned Forza 5 as a launch title for the Xbox One then brought a new IP from Remedy to our attention: Quantum Break. A short trailer for the game was shown, but no solid details as far as story line or gameplay were given. Spencer did say, however, that 15 new exclusive titles will be coming to the Xbox One next year and 8 of those will be brand new franchises.
Nancy Tellem from Xbox Entertainment Studios took the stage next to talk about how the TV on the Xbox One will immerse users in a new way. She brought Bonnie Ross, General Manager of 343 Industries, on the stage to announce a live action Halo television series and a partnership of some sort with Steven Spielberg.
Ross left the stage to Tellem to discuss a “game changing partnership” with NFL on the Xbox One television. As a wrap up they discussed the Xbox One as an “all in one system for the living room” and that more will be announced and revealed at E3 this year. The last bit of the conference was dedicated to Call of Duty: Ghosts and the stage was given to Eric Hirchberg of Activision. He described Ghosts to have an all new interactive experience with new characters, story, and dynamics. A video came on-screen of the Infinity Ward studios as the developers working on the game discussed its new features and showed off small amounts of gameplay and features. There is said to be a new story, new world, a dog squadmate, and even a brand new game engine.
That was the end of the conference, it lasted a little over an hour and made sure as a whole to point out that more would be shown at E3. For more information, visit Xbox.com and see the Xbox One in more detail.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet: I was disappointed. It’s ok though, I expected to be, but in all honestly I was way more disappointed than I expected. I was irritated that they didn’t go into much detail about the system itself and the hardware other that what it looks like and the basic things it does. They spent a lot of time talking about the Kinect and the fact that you can now watch TV on your Xbox, which is annoying since I don’t want a mandatory Kinect and I can watch TV now without having to buy a console.
Also, let me just come right out and say it, where were the games? They showed off some EA Sports games, a new Forza, an IP that was barely shown, and then CoD Ghosts. I expected 3 out of 4 of those and the one I didn’t see coming was the one they talked the least about. They spent more time talking about watching sports on the Xbox One than they did about playing games on it. This is a video game console, right? It seems like they should have just waited until E3 to announce the console since apparently we aren’t even going to see anything substantial until that point.
There was nothing said that made me want a Xbox One over a PS4, so I will stick to purchasing a PS4 this year and then picking up the Xbox One sometime early next year. I just found this whole thing to be a big let down, since I personally hate watching sports and playing sports games and do not like the Kinect. I was interested in the Halo live action television series, but they barely said anything about it so whatever. I guess time will tell if this will be a console worth picking up at all. Here’s hoping Microsoft is less of a disappointment at E3.