An Alternative Opinion: The Xbox One Reveal

An Alternative Opinion is a weekly feature where Alt:Mag writers are given a question or topic, and submit their thoughts and opinions. Today's topic of discussion is the Xbox One reveal: what did we think of it? Are we excited, or disappointed?

Aaron: Strap yourselves in guys, this could take a while. So on the 21st of May Microsoft unveiled the next generation of Xbox to the world for the first time. It looks like a chunkier version of my Blu-Ray player but I've never been one to care for aesthetics so that was fine with me. Then came the name; the "Xbox One". Now, myself and many others have stated the obvious in that this is the third Xbox, not the first, but I get that they're trying to go for the whole "one source of entertainment" shtick. The name didn't work if you ask me, and the rumoured "Infinity" would have been better in my opinion but hey, at least they didn't go for the abysmal "Durango". Then they talked about Kinect. And it all started to go downhill from there. I never particularly liked Kinect, it was bearable provided you had enough space around you but in honesty it didn't work very well. The fact that they've refined it (though it's not hard to refine a terrible experience) is something I didn't particularly care about.

Then they showed us how Kinect works with watching movies, another thing I don't really care about. Then they showed us how Kinect is good for watching live TV, something I don't really care about. Then they showed us how Kinect is really good at swapping between films, games and live TV really quickly, something I thought was pretty damn stupid, but ultimately didn't really care about. However, it was after maybe half an hour of this that I began to care, because I started to get annoyed. They weren't showing any games, and the things they were showing were features that I already have on my laptop, and even my phone for a lot of them.
There was one bit where they talked about how they've upped the servers from 15k to 300k which was interesting, and they did mention how within the first year of launch the Xbox One would have 15 exclusive franchise titles, with 8 of them being new IP (new series, as opposed to sequels and prequels). However, they decided to show off one of these, Quantum Break (by the developers of Alan Wake) with a crappy live-action/CG trailer: no gameplay.

EA's Australian man came out to tell us about their bromance with Microsoft and how we'd get this exclusive and that exclusive, though it was all "additional content" *DLC* as opposed to anything major. They then stunned the world by announcing FOUR GAMES! Fifa 14, Madden NFL, UFC and NBA Live. I proceeded to urinate through sheer shock because no-one in the world ever expected this. Fairly certain I actually passed out, but i'm not sure because I wasn't awake when it happened. Oh, and EA didn't actually show gameplay, they showed trailers, because otherwise we'd all have actually died of shock and excitement. Good guy EA.
And then Microsoft talked about Skype on Xbox (which I have on my laptop, thanks) and live sports on Xbox (which I have on my laptop, thanks) and a deal with NFL about fantasy team stuff that people in America probably do but no one else in the world cares about at all. This deal apparently cost Microsoft $400 million, by the way.
This NFL deal is more stupid than the price suggests though. The NFL has a very limited following outside of the US, and it's only in the US (except for us over here in little ol' UK) that the Xbox 360 is doing better than the PS3. Way to target your markets, guys.

We then got the Call of Duty guys to talk about their Call of Duty games, in which you shoot stuff for a bit. This one is totally different though, because there is... a dog. A realistic dog. VIDEO GAMES! And if that wasn't enough, they even showed some gameplay! It looked a bit like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. But this one is called Call of Duty: Ghosts, and has a dog, so this will be the best game ever. 
A lot of people were probably really excited about this Call of Duty/Nintendogs crossover, and I certainly didn't expect it. Who would have thought Nintendo would share the glorious limelight of the lucrative Nintendogs series with a small IP like Call of Duty?! And yet, it is happening. The world is good.

That's about it for the reveal though. It sucked. It really, really sucked. They did show off Forza which I didn't even care to mention, but really there were no games on show. There was a Halo "premium TV series" being produced by Steven Spielberg, but he is not a video game so I wasn't all that interested. However, in total seriousness, don't quite write-off the Xbox One just yet. Wait til E3 when they do show off the games. This was not a reveal for the hardcore gamers, this was for the casuals, because they already know us gamers will be following everything that happens, whereas this was their one chance to show the whole world their console and get them involved. (Doesn't mean it didn't suck, though).

Peter: The Xbox One. I’m going to take that as Microsoft saying that it does everything all in one, and not that they can’t count.
But does it do everything? Does it play games? Looking at the reveal of the Xbox One one could be forgiven for not realising this console will be bought by gamers to play games. Hell, I think even Microsoft forgot that it plays games, given how little they spoke about or showed them. All they talked about was TV and other non-gaming functions. Just watch this video.

See what I mean? Microsoft seem to forget that when people buy the Xbox One they will be buying it for its gaming capabilities. The other stuff, as cool as some of it is, is just a bonus. No one will be buying it so they can watch TV. Because they already do that. On their TVs! The Xbox One lets you watch TV, flick between channels, and presumably much more, through voice controls. To do all of that you need one vital element first. A TV. A TV that is connected to an aerial or cable, or box, or whatever, which enables you to watch all those TV channels. With the Xbox One you will be using your TV screen to watch TV on your Xbox even though you already have the TV part!
Ok, maybe I am being a little cynical, I have been using the Xbox 360 Netflix app to watch stuff all month, and the catch-up apps are very useful. But it just seems the reveal focused too much on TV and not enough on gaming. People were looking forwards to the Xbox One reveal to see the games coming with it and how good they look on it, etc, not to see someone flick between channels. They can do that at home without the Xbox One.

Lewis: I didn't watch all of the reveal, but I read about everything that went on. Contrary to popular opinion, I do think the new console looks nice, although nothing special, despite everyone saying it looks like a VCR or the horrific retro console, the Philips CD-i (that one was the major blow, as no one wants to have their system compared to Philips' crappy dust heap). Although, the thinking behind the Philips CD-i is probably not far removed from that of the Xbox One. Philips tried to conquer several markets with their device, they wanted it to be a Video CD player (you know, video CDs?), an educational software device and most notoriously a game console. But because it tried too hard to be everything else, its software library suffered, the device flopped and now the Philips CD-i is considered a mockery within gaming history. Now I'm not saying Microsoft have created a Philips CD-i mark 2, no way, they created the Xbox 360, so they couldn't stoop to Philips level in that respect, what I'm saying is, people weren't ready for an 'all-in-one' device back in 1991, and I still don't think people are ready for it now, especially not the serious gamers, who just want an Xbox for gaming and nothing much else. People have Skype on their PCs, they have TV shows and movies on their family television. I really don't think people are just going to put those devices away in wake of Microsoft's brand new cash cow. I think Microsoft is trying to stick its hands into too many cookie jars, and that is why consumers are annoyed. They just want games... hear that Microsoft? GAMES. 

Speaking of games, a lot of shit is going down about a fee people have to pay when they put a pre-owned or borrowed game into their Xbox One console. This my friends is what I'd like to title 'the death of gaming as an art' and yes, I do believe that gaming can be art.
If I walked into HMV tomorrow and I wanted to buy an 'old' movie, for example, The Shawshank Redemption, I'd find it there on DVD, or maybe even Blu Ray. If I went to that same HMV many many years before, I'd probably find that same movie on VHS tape. Then you have music. If I wanted a Ray Charles record from the 50's on CD, it's there. Many years back you'd probably find that same record on Vinyl or Cassette tape. No matter how time moves on, movies and music are preserved and are still available in years to come.
Games however, are different, and this is why pre-owned games need their place to thrive. I walk into that same HMV, pick up my Ray Charles CD and my DVD of The Shawshank Redemption, now I feel like a good game to play. Oh, I remember that when I was a kid I played a great game called Guardian's Crusade, I'll buy that too. I search the whole store and it is nowhere to be found. That little RPG gem was only released on the original PlayStation and hasn't been put on any other console since. It was released on the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3, but only in Japan. Sure games get re-released on new systems on the odd occasion, but underrated gems are out for a hot minute and then they are buried. Now that's sad. If the Xbox One kills pre-owned games, no one will want to buy the game second-hand when it has faded into obscurity and hasn't been re-released on a new system. Imagine if you bought the 'Xbox Two' (oh yeah, forgot to mention, the name 'Xbox One' is stupid) in ten years or so, no one will care about Xbox One games, as they have no way to play them.

Sony need to take note of the negative reaction to the Xbox One and use this to their advantage. If they focus mostly on great games (especially exclusives) and let people know that they will allow pre-owned games, their PlayStation 4 will have already trumped the Xbox One. People online are highly anticipating Sony's next step and I have heard a lot of people say how 'if the PS4 is good, I'm going to buy it over the Xbox One' so if Sony do exactly that, they will most likely get a good head start in the console war of the eighth generation. If they do the opposite, they are a bunch of prats.

What do you think of Microsoft's new Xbox One? Is it the future of gaming, or does the concept just seem plain awful to you? Would you buy one, or are you thinking about buying a PlayStation 4 instead? Let us know in the comments section below or by our Facebook or Twitter page.

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