Xbox One. That’s what Microsoft has called their successor to the Xbox 360 video game console that they launched in December 2005, almost 8 years ago. I’m not going to go in to too much detail on what this new console is going to offer, Microsoft will do that job for me. Instead, I’m going to give you my quick overview on what I was expecting from Microsoft and where I think they missed the mark.
Being an avid gamer on the iOS and OS X platform, I’m used to being able to play a game on either device and continue where I left off on another. Thanks to the architecture that Apple has given its developers being able to harness the cloud, we’re now seeing more and more games on the App Store and Mac App Store utilise this great feature.
Microsoft did state that Xbox One will harness the power of the cloud but they didn’t go in to too much detail. They focused a heck of a lot on the entertainment features of the device such as TV, movies and the device’s web-browsing capabilities. Speaking of web-browsing, the Xbox One comes with just one browser with no mention of whether other browsers will be made available for the device. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be browsing the web on my TV with Internet Explorer. Maybe that’s just the web designer in me and having mostly negative user experiences with Internet Explorer.
Unfortunately, they seemed that interested in their entertainment offerings that they just didn’t delve deep enough in to the console’s cloud capabilities. They briefly touched on Xbox Smartglass but didn’t explain how this will interoperate with Xbox One. I’m confused.
Hardware and aesthetics
As soon as President of Interactive Entertainment Business for Microsoft, Don Mattrick, announced the name of the product, I was quite surprised. Given that Sony launched a product in 2001 called PSone, it seemed a little weird to me that Microsoft would name the successor to the Xbox 360 the Xbox One. I don’t know, I feel there’s no real reason for the naming convention here but let’s move on.
When Microsoft showed off the aesthetics of the product, I immediately felt disappointed. They’ve made a device that appears to be bulky and certainly something I wouldn’t want on display. Look’s aren’t everything but when you’ve designed a product that closely resembles a product from the early-to-mid 1980s, I think you’ve missed the mark a little — that product being a Betamax player.
The Xbox One will feature a Blu-ray Disc drive. This says two things to me. The first is that Microsoft is continuing to support traditional, physical media, which is still rather pricey. The second is that Microsoft isn’t moving forward. They’re not moving backwards either. They’re not moving at all.
Overall, I’m not that impressed with what we’ve seen so far. Nothing excites me and nothing interests with me with the Xbox One. For me, Microsoft has missed the mark on this one.
Microsoft should have taken to the stage and unveiled a product that they simply call “Xbox”, regardless of that being the product name of their first-generation console, and they should have listed these three features:
A totally cloud-based system
Instead of creating hardware that is akin to today’s generic PC gaming rigs, they should have taken a risky step in to offering a complete cloud-only solution. That means that the software runs completely on Microsoft’s own servers allowing devices to simply connect to those servers. With Xbox LIVE, Microsoft could incorporate some neat features for cross-device gameplay, which leads me on to my next point…
A multi-platform solution
Microsoft could have created an app for iOS, OS X, Windows and Android simply called “Xbox” that when launched, takes you to your Xbox dashboard, where you can access all of your media. They could release a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox gamepad that hooked up to your supported device and then you could use that device to play your favourite Xbox software, given that the main computation of the games will be done server-side.
With devices such as Apple TV that allow you to “AirPlay” your iOS and OS X devices to your TV, you could have that “next-generation” of gaming by having your Bluetooth-enabled Xbox gamepad paired with your iPad and then enjoying some beautiful high-definition gameplay on your HDTV, all thanks to the Xbox app.
Embracing a new company ethos
Given that Microsoft’s own name implies software, this would have been a fantastic example of that. Creating a piece of multi-platform software that runs on today’s most popular platforms allowing gamers both hardcore and casual to come and connect with each other. All of this without having to go out and buy an overpriced hunk-a-junk and cluttering up your living room.
Those are my thoughts, anyway. Tweet me @stephenmdixon your thoughts and what you think of Xbox One.