After today’s lackluster reveal of the new Xbox, I decided to take a gander at Microsoft’s Official Lauch Site and what I see front-and-center is all about how it blends the delivery of all media types (music, movies, television, news, and oh yeah, gaming) into one device. It even features a picture of your super hip dad (or Bill Gates) in his purple sweater. Because, you know, us Xbox 360 gamers are geriatric now and buy odd colored and poorly fitting clothes from the local thrift shop (which is kinda hip now by the way).
The feature list doesn’t excite much. Although I do find the Built-In Gameplay Recording a near idea, it will need a time-caching system so that I don’t have to remember to begin recording before I start playing. The moments best sharing are usually the ones you weren’t anticipating recording. I’m also concerned that this feature is going to make hours of other people’s boring video playback even more proliferate on Youtube and other video sharing sites. Seriously, I’ve already seen about all the World of Warcraft raid-waiting that I can stomach for a lifetime.
Also, who needs a 1080p Kinect camera watching you whenever you are in your living room? If that thing is always on then I’m unplugging this thing when I’m not actively using it. The whole talking to your Xbox with voice commands is nothing more than a feature-grid checkbox requirement. Remember when cell phones featured voice activated dialing? Who uses that anymore? It is pompous and seems creepier than useful.
The Smart Matching match-making system is long overdue, but no one has figured out a great algorithm that gets me into a game quickly against people of comparable skill level in any system I’ve participated in – the latest being Blizzard’s Starcraft II ranking system. It takes several (n>30) matches for it to accurately place you, and over time your skill level changes, and if you sometimes play while sloshed then is the creepy Kinect-thing going to know that it is 2:30am, I’m shit-faced drunk, and I’m holding the controller upside down? Granted, these systems are better than nothing, but it isn’t a feature that is going to significantly change that value you get out of this new system.
Xbox’s new Achievement System “has richer detail and spans across your games and experiences, which means achievements are no longer confined to a single game”. So it means, what? Why, as a gamer, should I care about this? How does it benefit me? “Our new achievements portal not only keeps track of what you earned, but how you earned it, so it’s more personal than ever”. I DON’T UNDERSTAND! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!!!11ONE!1!
“As real as real life.”
Forserious? Because I usually play video games to escape real life. Not because I need a Second Life (see what I did there?)?
Microsoft claims the architecture is integrated with a “powerful Windows OS”, which means that you will be dying to Blue Screens more than ever. I’m not surprised: I forecasted yeas ago that the next gen consoles would be more like PCs than consoles. What I hate most about this integration though is the Skype. It is the most god awful voip client known on earth, and the user interface seems to have been designed by an undergraduate with a pirated copy of Photoshop.
Living Games Technology? Please give me a concrete example. Sounds like streaming patches to me, not some sort of magical process by which games will continue to become more awesome without developer effort. Also, “playing while games update” has been around on PCs for years now. Steam and Blizzard both have this technology baked in.
The most promising feature is the Xbox Smart Glass, where you can control your Xbox with your mobile fun. But this begs the question: aren’t you supposed to be controlling your Xbox One by speaking to it? Also, will I be able to use Android, or do I have to use a crappy Windows Phone?
Bottom Line: Let me thank my dad up there in the purple sweater for giving me several good reasons to continue using my PC as my primary gaming device. These are not the features of a “Next Gen” console. This is a money grab to control the infrastructure that delivers the media that you want to micro-monetize.