Well, that was that. It’s called Xbox One and it’s pretty much what we expected.
For most people watching yesterday’s announcement (including me) it will be the games that matter and as such the Xbox One Reveal provoked little more than a shrug.
Microsoft’s new console is pitched as the ‘All in One’ box for the living room, a marked contrast to the unashamedly gamer centric message that was the bedrock of Sony’s PS4 announcement.
The specs for the console were as expected, so in that context there was little on display to differentiate Xbox One from its next-gen competition. The consensus however is that Sony did a better job at catering to the needs and desires of the core gaming audience.
As far hardware design goes Xbox One is hardly a discrete piece of kit, so the lack of fussiness is to appreciated, as is the promise of its silence. The controller impressed, a subtle but smart evolution of an already excellent device, featuring small enhancements and an improved build. And many of Xbox One’s features may yet become important in a gaming environment, such as force feedback on the triggers, improved motion and voice control and Skype integration.
The presentation came unstuck, as ever with Microsoft, in its messaging and positioning. With games largely ignored, it was back to sports and TV to carry the weight of Xbox One’s reveal.
We were treated to the latest in a long line of woolly statements that promised to change the way we experience television forever!
It was no surprise then to see Speilberg pop up in another attempt to give a game console some legitimacy. Meanwhile Don Mattrick had conversation with the NFLs Roger Goodell that featured a remarkable signal to noise ratio.
“With Xbox we’re gonna have exclusive content, that we will use with smart glass, with Kinect, with some of the innovations our creative teams are doing to bring Fantasy Football to life, to be able to interact with others, to do things using all of the devices in your living room, as you’re participating with your friends. So it’s gonna be a really rich palette for us to create.”
To these old ears it meant nothing but more clutter, more distraction. In that sense it didn’t feel like a global product, but a US one, something for the jocks. As a product designed around being at the centre of the home it didn’t feel like a particularly inclusive product.
We shouldn’t be too critical about the lack of games at the event. E3 is around the corner and Microsoft perhaps wisely concentrated on the IPs we would all assume to be in development. That said, you can’t help but roll your eyes when you hear yet again that this year’s edition of FIFA will be the best ever, or how Call of Duty’s mo-cap dog will make us connect with a game at an emotional level.
So, slightly disappointing, but we mustn’t forget that it’s just the box. A console is only ever as good as the content it has, just ask Nintendo.
Over to the games then.