Xbox One – The Details You Didn’t Hear During The Live Reveal

xbox one

Microsoft talked plenty about how the Xbox One will be your “Ultimate all in one entertainment system”, some may say that an inexorbitant amount of time was spent talking about the Live TV function.  The suits on stage afforded a brief technical specification rundown and the new console, Kinect, and controller were freely shown. There was also a brief  segment with 343i talking about a new Halo tv series that’s in the works with Steven Spielberg. At the tail end of the hour long press conference we observed two new Xbox One exclusive titles, Forza Motorsport 5 and Quantum Break. Both announcements leaned on pre-rendered cgi and even live action segments. To close things out, Activision showed off their upcoming installment in the Call of Duty franchise – Ghosts. In hindsight it wasn’t the best note to end on, considering Call of Duty: Ghosts will release on other platforms, not excluding the current generation console crop.

The sportcoat clad robots on stage skirted the many elephants that have been stuffed into the Xbox One’s room. What’s this with ‘always online’ and ‘can I still play used games’? Not to mention a detailed description of the consoles tech specs. It seems that Microsoft was hoping that if they didn’t mention it, neither would we. It’s akin to my son thinking I’m not able to see him if he covers his eyes. After the reveal wrapped up, media outlets were able to corner Microsoft execs, and what happened next has created more disillusion and confusion in it’s wake.

In reference to the ‘always on, always ready’  inquiry a myriad of responses have been recorded. Kotaku asked Phil Harrison if the Xbox One would check your connectivity, and if so, how often and was told,  “I believe it’s 24 hours.” This statement was later dismissed as a ‘potential scenario‘ by Microsoft with a contradictory statement, “There have been reports of a specific time period — those were discussions of potential scenarios, but we have not confirmed any details today, nor will we be,” So at this point, we don’t have any concrete answers. This comes as a disappointment to the vast majority of people that tuned into the press conference live yesterday. Not only did Microsoft try to avoid the subject like the plague, they’ve failed to give a straight answer to the inquiry when pressed for one.

The used game scenario is the other question that gamers were hoping to have answered during the Xbox One reveal. Again, no clarification was given to how the Xbox One will, or won’t handle second hand games. We’ve been hearing rumors for some time that new games will need to be installed to the HDD in order to launch, and that appears to have been a legitimate assertion. It was revealed to Wired that games will indeed need to be present on the HDD for a session to begin. What’s more it seems as though there will be some kind of second hand fee in place for gamers that choose to forego the plastic seal. A later statement of, “We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games. We’ll have more details to share later.” was given to Wired to accompany the original piece. On top of that one final confounding piece of information has been making the rounds to provide additional explanation. It seems when giving a game disc to a friend/family member that they’ll have to pay the retail price for the game via the Xbox Live Marketplace to access the content, explained Harrison. The Microsoft exec also mentioned being able to trade your used games online (most likely with a fee attached), but he denied to elaborate any further saying, “We will have a solution—we’re not talking about it today—for you to be able to trade your previously-played games online,”

Many of us were hoping that Microsoft would face the negative rumors surrounding the Xbox One head on. The people watching Tuesday’s press conference live were likely the group that would adopt next gen ASAP and become the Xbox One’s envoys to friends and family. Sadly they were given a presentation that focused less on the facts that mattered to them, and more on the entertainment features that attract a wider audience. Microsoft’s inability to dispel, or even address damaging rumors may come back to haunt it. Their approach to used games is unprecedented. It’s a system that takes consumer ownership completely out of the equation. I don’t have any rational comparison for their stance on used game sales, it’s comparable to Chrysler manufacturing a set amount of cars and collecting the net sales for the life cycle of each vehicle, no matter how many times the product changes hands.

I’ve come out the other side of Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal undeniably confused and frustrated. Both as a reporter and consumer. I read a like minded comment on Game Informer’s website, “Microsoft has 19 days to sell me an Xbox One.” The clock is ticking, and if the Xbox team fails to respond with the correct information, the Xbox One may just be for whom the bell tolls.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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