Make no mistake as you read various articles about the video game market in that nobody believes that Microsoft won't sell a ton of XBox Ones. But there is more to the video game market that just selling consoles at launch. Often, console makers lose money when they first begin selling consoles. It's the accessories, games and online fees that turn a profit for them and what matters as the "war" goes on is which console hardcore gamers gravitate toward game after game for multi-player, monthly online fees and all the goodies that come along with a gamer deciding to play on one console over the other.
Microsoft received a chilly reception for the XBox One launch presentation and many of the policies that came along with it. Since E3 they have smartly made some adjustments to both policies and the console and we're going to take a look at some of those changes.
Always Online Internet No Longer Required
Originally the XBox One would have to connect to the internet at least once every twenty-four hours to verify game ownership information. This was a huge issue for people in the military and in areas with poor internet coverage, caused possible issues for gamers wanting to take their console on trips, and just plain annoyed the anti-DRM crowd. After Sony made a huge deal at E3 of some of the differences between the PS4 and XB1, Microsoft saw the light and began making changes, the 'always online' internet was one of the first to go.
No Restrictions on Pre-Owned Games
This issue was never quite clear-cut, with mostly rumor about how Microsoft was rolling out a retail system to monitor used game sales and remove ownership rights from players consoles. Some of the rumors also suggested the policies would also include price-control. This was another announcement Sony took advantage of at E3, touting their open used game policy while Microsoft was silent. I have no doubt that Microsoft was working on something along the lines of what we heard in the rumor mill, but by the time the official word came, they were all for pre-owned game support.
Headsets Will Now Come With the XBox One
News came out after E3 in a random question and Microsoft's inititial stance was that no headset would come with XBox One and that users can use the Kinect to chat online. Along with this came the news that old headset accessories would not work with the new console, so players with expensive gaming headsets would be out of luck unless the license the rights to, and create adapters. Some headset makers have plans to do just that, but it didn't help the gamers that rely on the included headsets for their online chatting. Nobody wants a dozen or more voices screaming various colorful phrases through a multi-player game being broadcast through your television speakers. As the shitstorm grew, Microsoft again decided to bite the bullet and included headsets with the console.
XBox One Now Has a Little More Memory
Microsoft went with 8GB of GDDR3 RAM for their console, Sony went with GDDR5, a newer and faster RAM. Microsoft believed the cost would limit them to 4GB, but as time moved forward, cost came down and their gamble backfired when PS4 announced 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. At launch this won't be much of a problem as games won't push the consoles to their limit, but as the generation pushes forward the difference will begin to show and gamers will have a choice between buying the same game on one console or the other when it performs clearly better on one of them. Microsoft did, however, include 32MB of embedded static RAM on the processor for graphics processing that may help make up the difference. Since E3, they have announced that the peak throughput of the RAM might be pushed up to 192MB.
XBox One Launch Market Now 13 Instead of 21
Microsoft seemed mostly concerned with the North American market when initially announcing the XBox One, with many of their TV-centric features not ready for international launch. This is one change that didn't go in their favor, but with all the changes they are making and with Playstation dominating in Europe and Japan anyway, it may be better to play things safe. Originally it was expected to launch in 21 markets in November, but now they have announced it will only launch in thirteen, including Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, UK, United States and New Zealand.
Kinect Will Not Need To Be Connected For XBox One To Work
Originally, the XBox One would not function without the Kinect connected at all times. Microsoft designed the console around the use of the Kinect hoping to pull developers in. Where last gen, developers making Kinect games would only have a market of thousands, by forcing Kinect purchases with each console, now that market will be in the millions. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't see the light and offer a non-Kinect version at $100 cheaper to compete with the $100 cheaper PS4, but at least making the software change to not require the ever watchful Kinect to be hooked up just for operation is a step in the right direction. We still have a few months until launch though, so perhaps we'll see that non-Kinect version offered if Microsoft continues to make the necessary improvements.