The XBox One is definitely a decent piece of hardware with solid software backing it up and as an XBox fan I was looking foward to todays reveal. Unfortunately, many felt they came up short for fans today and with Sony's stock rising immediately after the XBox reveal, it wasn't just gamers that thought the event was lacking.
I'm not here to talk about the appearance of the console, personally, I'd rather have something that blends into my A/V equipment than what we've been offered from console makers in the past. I'm not going to harp on the name, which is not that great (OK, I guess I harped on it a little). I won't even talk about the fact that it's not backwards compatible with old XBox games, a problem it shares with the PS4. I'm here to talk about the presentation itself.
This was an event they promoted the heck out of. It wasn't just a stream for journalists or a presentation to stockholders, this was going out to everyday gamers. So what could they have done differently?
All Console and No Games
I knew the presentation would be about the new XBox and that the games were being saved for E3. That news came out days ago and I'm even fine with it. Where they messed up here was not making that obvious to everyone from the beginning. Not every player that was looking forward to today's reveal was aware of that news and there were a lot of disappointed fans watching the broadcast today. Telling them "Well, we told some websites the other day that this would just be about the console," isn't going to unruffle those feathers.
To give you a personal story, my son (a big xbox gamer) just got home from school a little while ago and asked about the reveal. I told him he could still watch the replay if he wanted and that it was just about the console and not about games. When I checked on him a little while later, he was passed out asleep from the video and after waking him, he said, 'eh, not enough about games or even playing games'. This was immediately after I told him there would be no game info, so you can see what a problem preconceptions can be. Unfortunately, when you are a business, you can't dismiss that as 'your problem, not mine' when it's a customer.
Not having your console reveal include technical details
If you are going to keep an announcement based simply on the console and save the games for another day, you should damn well give people everything they want to know about the console. I spent hours after the reveal was over trading info with other journalists, searching other sites, all for information like the TFLOPS of the GPU, whether the RAM was GDDR3 or 5, etc. and still don't have every question answered. If you are going to have a huge announcement where you tell everyone about your new hardware, then tell them about the hardware. This isn't Best Buy, telling me 8GB of RAM and 500 GB HD isn't going to cut it.
Not to mention the other small details that people will want to know, like the fact that the new system doesn't just come with Kinect, but requires it to be hooked up. Maybe mention that the HD cannot be replaced by users, since they are used to being able to do so easily on your last console. Tell viewers that your RAM is partitioned so out of the 8GB, only 5 is going to be used for gaming. Or how the built-in battery on the controller isn't going to be a problem for gamers, when it seems like it could be. You have a line-up of folks that for the most part, aren't motivational speakers, at least let them talk about all the details people are craving and own up to the decisions you made buildling the console.
Not addressing the rumors
In the weeks and months leading up to official news from Microsoft on the new console, there have been countless stories about always online connectivity and used games being locked out. These issues were not even hinted at during the reveal.
As someone following this story, there wasn't even an official press release on the side that addressed these issues, or a side Q&A about it - You know, the way the announced that the console would not be backwards compatible. All day websites have been posting quotes from various parties and assumptions about how this will work and most of the (hopefully accurate) answers at the end of the day have come from various microsoft related parties on twitter.
Does the new console have to always be online? Hell, I'm still not sure. So far the story seems to be, no it doesn't, except maybe sometimes, unless it's a cloud based game, then yes, but it will need to verify games you play. Can I play used games? Well, you can, but you have to pay to activate it again, oh wait, no you don't, it will just deactivate on the old console when used in a new console. No, what it is, game is matched to your profile, and your profile is available through the cloud. But I thought I didn't have to always be online?
These issues are only just now getting real clarifiction, hours after the reveal ended.
I would say this information should have, at the very least, been addressed by an official and full explanation from Microsoft in press release form after the event. But really, they should have dealt with it on stage. If you are making good decisions for your customers, then you should be proud of what you have to say about your machine.
All-in-all, there is a lot of hope for the new console. It has a lot of positive features and their focus on entertainment over gaming may have been a negative to some, but it actually is one of the few things that make it different than the PS4. XBox doesn't have a headstart on Sony this time around and the stats of the two units are so similar the only difference maker here will be the games and software. For all the negatives, the XBox One did have an impressive looking interface and the way it's positioned to make use of 'the cloud' to allow the console to grow over time may be the difference maker for some.
No matter how you feel about today's presentation, the real test for both the consoles will be at E3. Try and hold your final judgement until you've seen everything they both have to offer and stay tuned to The Outhouse for E3 news!
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About the Author - Jeremy Shane
Jeremy was born in a small mountain village of a strange foreign land called Weystvurginea. Banishment for liberal views saw him spend years wondering the east coast until he decided to bike to California. When he saw how long a trip it was, he drove instead. Now he's living it up in a low humidity climate, sometimes working on his photography and when not, he writes for us covering books (by way of his blog: Reading Realms), gaming, tv, movies, comics, conventions in the SoCal area, and creates a weekly webcomic: A Journey Through Skyrim. If you look for him offline, start in the L.A. area; online start at: www.jeremyshane.info for his profile and all the social networks he's on... or just follow him on twitter, he seems to be on there a lot: @jeremyshane.
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