As news broke on Wednesday (24th July) about the Xbox One’s ability to act as a development kit for indie developers, it was met with various reactions throughout the gaming community. Many were glad that Microsoft had finally made a decision which benefited indie developers while others were frustrated that this hadn’t been revealed at E3 or at the original Xbox One reveal. As good as this decision may seem, I believe that Microsoft don’t really know what they want from the Xbox One. Even after two months have passed since the Xbox One was unveiled to the world, there are still some issues which seem to cast doubt over the future of the console and the feeling that they are merely adding features to the console based on what Sony is doing with the PS4.
I am in no doubt that the Xbox One will be a great gaming machine and something which will be worthy of the £429 RRP in Britain but the slow and sluggish way they have been trying to promote it has been ridiculous. Before the unveiling of the console, there was always so much rumour surrounding digital rights management (DRM) and the always online function. It seems as though that, in many ways, Microsoft have been forced to make changes to their console time and time again because it isn’t proving popular with the gaming community.
While many are pleased in a way with the changes made to the Xbox One, I can’t help but get the feeling that both the Xbox One and PS4 will merely be more powerful versions of the Xbox 360 and PS3. As much as many of us (including myself) had decided soon after the Xbox One reveal, it seemed as though Microsoft had shot themselves in the foot with the online daily check-ins which put many gamers off the console as well as the used-game subject. If Microsoft had said from the beginning, “Right, here’s what we’re going to do and this is why we’ve done it,” I’m sure people would have come round to the ideas if the company was more open and honest.
After the initial reveal, everyone was still left in doubt about what the Xbox One could actually do aside from the blatant, brand-heavy TV and fantasy leagues for various sports. Right from the off, it seemed as though Sony were making a console for gamers and had the gamers at the forefront of their ideas while Microsoft had the living room on their minds.
Of course after E3, Microsoft would have looked at the pre-order numbers the Xbox One had and decided to take drastic action. The classic tagline of “Xbox 180” seemed to appease many Xbox fans and encouraged them to side with Microsoft’s console again. But before this, there were two different consoles trying to do two different things and as much as many of the community would have complained, it still would have sold well. Not as well as the PS4 to begin with at least, but it still would have sold well. If all the clouded information in regards to features and functions the Xbox One had was released in the reveal and at E3, I’m sure many people would have warmed to it. The same happened with Steam and now the future of gaming is Steam.
I’m sure avid Half Life 2 owners would testify that they weren’t best pleased when they found out in the early 2000′s that if they bought the game from Steam, they could only play the game (including the single player campaign) while connected to the internet. As time passed, everyone could see what a great effect Steam was having on the gaming community with its generous price structures and variety of games. People soon began to forget that you had always be connected to the internet while gaming and the anger towards Steam soon turned to admiration as they soon introduced an offline mode, they had helped many indie developers and saved gamers so much money with terrific pricing.
If Microsoft had outlined exactly what their purpose for the online check-ins were and how it benefited the owner, I’m sure there wouldn’t have been as much of an uproar but, a little understanding from the public instead. In reflection, Microsoft have no one else to blame but themselves. As far as the constant chopping and changing to the Xbox One, it is merely to try and win back some of the fans who have been confused by what Microsoft have portrayed the Xbox One to be.
To me, it seems as though they have finally recognised that the Xbox One is a system mainly for gamers and not for the Apple loving, technology dad who likes to watch American Football and lets his children enjoy “Raving Rabbids” games. Hardcore gamers still want to play an Xbox console as the brand is so powerful. With the feature of anyone being able to create a game on the Xbox One console is a huge feature. Sony has already said they will feature it but, it is still a huge feature. I don’t understand why the vital features of the console have been revealed months after its initial release. This is something that Microsoft should have been yelling from the top of a building to the gathering crowds below and not wittering it out via a leaked news story.
As a gaming machine, I am worried about the Xbox One. We all know they have been able to create two great consoles in the past but it looks as though with this one, they could find their concentration on the living room costing them a substantial amount of money as well as brand perception.