Feature – Industry Impact Xbox One Reveal Discussion

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So, how bout that Xbox One reveal? Saddle up for the iGR staffs reaction to Microsoft’s next gen entertainment system. Since the reveal there’s been no shortage of knee jerk reactions, confusion, and down right resentment from gamers. Some feel what Microsoft delivered was par for the course, others are genuinely excited, and more still are disenfranchised completely.

We have a diverse staff here at iGR. A wide spectrum of ages, creeds, priorities, and expectations. We also have varying preferences in choice of console and genre of games. It’s no surprise that the polarizing performance the suits over at Microsoft delivered resulted in various responses.

To sample the various outcomes the Xbox One reveal spurred on I felt it necessary to send out a questionnaire for the staff to reply to.

1. Ideally, what did you want to hear at Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal?

Nick: Personally, I wanted to have a definite idea of what the console was. I wanted to hear hardware specs, see the full console (instead of just a gimmicked controller a la the Wii U and PS4 reveals), and have a demo of everything the new Xbox could do.

Dylan: I was hoping for a decent technical breakdown of the new console as well as at least one next gen game reveal that I could get excited for.

Zach: I guess all I really wanted to know was the technical specs for the system and games.

Dale: I’m a nuts and bolts guy.  I normally don’t get too caught up in hype or gimmicks.  My main concern going into the reveal were specs for the machine and seeing the gameplay.

Kyle: I really don’t know because I got pretty much what I expected. Because of the rising number of people using their gaming consoles for more than simply gaming, I expected more of an emphasis on the entertainment side of things. This is especially the case with E3 right around the corner so I didn’t really expect a whole lot of game reveals.

2. When you’re buying a gaming console, do you want it to be games>entertainment, or the other way around?

Nick: Honestly, I want it to be balanced. The PlayStation 2 started things off by making the console capable of playing DVDs. Since then, consoles have only become more connected to media. I seriously doubt anybody with a PlayStation 3 has another Blu-ray player on the same television – heck, the Blu-ray drive was one of the major things that Sony pushed as being a bonus on the console. Both the 360 and the PS3 have streaming abilities, and the 360 already has a lot more than just that. If I’m getting a console now, I want it to be more than just a game console. It’s why I haven’t bought a Nintendo console since the N64.

Dylan: Games are why I purchase a gaming console. I have “entertainment” devices and a smart TV that offers the same level of control the Xbox One does. Plus, I don’t feel like it’s much of an inconvenience to lower my finger a 16th of an inch to turn the channel.

Zach: I want it to be games over entertainment. I think Microsoft is just trying to hit as many demographics as they can so they can make money, which I understand, but I just don’t find it that appealing.

Dale: I definitely buy consoles for games.  Part of this is probably that I’ve been a gamer for so long that I have a preconceived notion of what a video game console does.  The other part of it is that I have devices to cover all of my entertainment bases.  I don’t really need my game console to double as an all inclusive entertainment hub.  I’m not a 60 year old man that can’t figure out which remote works the TV and which works the DVD player.

Kyle: A mix of both. One of the reasons I bought a PS3 instead of a 360 was its ability to play blu-rays (also because I don’t like Xbox products). And, obviously, given the nature of my job at the site, entertainment is important to me. I also think that the evolution of these systems from simply gaming to something more goes hand-in-hand with my Netflix, Kickstarter, etc. article because it represents another way in which we can view content. To be honest, anything that will lead to cable being irrelevant is good to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy gaming, because I do, so they’re both important to me, I just don’t think the evolution of the systems is a bad thing.

3. Did the Xbox One reveal focus on the aspects that you want from a new gaming console?

Nick: Honestly, the Xbox One reveal made it clear from the start that the new Xbox wasn’t just a gaming console. Admittedly, if I was just going to play video games, a Wii U would be my ideal, given that it is focused to be almost entirely about video games, in spite of its reduced hardware capabilities. It was clear, since Kinect was confirmed to be integral to the new console, that Microsoft wasn’t going to make just a gaming console. On the other hand, it did give me all the facts about the console that I wanted, so in a shorter answer, yes.

Dylan: The reveal literally lost my attention five minutes in, but I felt obligated to continue watching because, you know, we print news here.

Zach: The entertainment aspect of the reveal was alright but what I wanted to see more of was the gaming aspect.

Dale: Not at all.  I feel so neglected that if I were 10 years old, I’d probably be calling child protective services.  That said, I understand why they did what they did.  Microsoft is touting this product as an all inclusive entertainment hub in order to try to gain business from people who normally wouldn’t consider buying gaming products.  The reveal was a mass marketing technique aimed to hook as many people as possible and they used all of the gimmick features to do it.  From here, they’ll release more info that’s specific to the different consumer groups they’re trying to ensnare.  E3 is where they’ll try to get the gamers hooked.

Kyle: I think I’ve probably answered this one with my previous answers but yes and no. I think, in general, an emphasis on games other than Call of Duty would’ve gone a long way with everybody (me included) but with E3 right around the corner, they’re likely shelving the gaming announcements for then. But like I said, I embrace the idea of evolving these systems beyond just gaming so the fact that they showed new ways to view entertainment was good. Personally, I wouldn’t really use any of the features but I’m not going to pretend they aren’t neat, either.

4. Do you feel the level of innovation on display during the reveal event was impressive enough to warrant an eight year gap between consoles?

Nick: Given that the Xbox’s shelf life was planned to be ten years from the get-go, I think that it was a perfect amount of time to hold off. They used the previous console as a test bed for everything that they wanted to try on the new console, which was a smart move.

Dylan: Microsoft is doing some really innovative things with the Kinect sensor. Some of the possible applications are exciting and others are….troubling. If you look at the specs side by side it looks like the PS4 will overpower the Xbox One in just about every aspect. An eight year gap in console generation is the longest in gaming history. The drawback is, at this point, there’s not much else anyone can cram into these machines that’s going to revolutionize the way we play video games.

Zach: I think that the gap was alright. I think that Sony and Microsoft just wanted to wait and develop better products that would really last and not make people want another next gen console within a few months.

Dale: Tough question – my opinion is that the jury is still out.  First off, this console is being released in a much different environment.  People have access to thousands of games that they can play on their cell phones or tablets.  I think that’s why a lot of the reveal was focused on multitasking and applications.  Second, with the evolution of XBox360 over the years in mind, this reveal is probably only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this console will eventually be capable of.  Third, there wasn’t any live action game play at the reveal, so the graphics, sound, and game play aspects of XBox One are still an unknown.

Kyle: Incomplete because we didn’t get to really see the console in action other than the entertainment features. The entertainment features are nice and I’m sure it takes longer to work out the bugs than just a couple of years but without seeing the actual games, it’s hard to say. That said, I don’t think the eight year gap has everything to do with the amount of innovation because I think if they introduced a new console any sooner, there would be a lot of negative PR. I mean, that argument could still exist to an extent because games on PS3 and 360 are still pretty impressive but eight years is enough time that they don’t look like money grubbers just trying to get you to buy a new system.

5. How did you feel about the presenters glossing over the features that have been causing the most concern like ‘always on’ and ‘used games’?

Nick: Honestly, I preferred it. They ran the conference the way they wanted to, and they showed everything that the console can do. As far as needing to connect once every 24 hours to play single-player games is definitely a down side, though hopefully they’ll see the problem with the idea. As for used game capabilities, it does make some sense, given that game re-sellers are potentially making money without paying the publishers for it. Sure, it’s a disadvantage to gamers, but as we don’t know the full details, I say wait and see.

Dylan: I wrote an editorial on this very subject a while back, and needless to say, I was hoping that Microsoft would go on the offensive to combat negative rumors. Instead their strategy was denying these concerns even existed, which lead to even more confusion when they were made respond to press inquiries.

Zach: I think that the always on and used games aspect is not good for the gaming community. What would happen if your internet went out for some reason or if someone doesn’t even have an internet connection but wants to buy your new console. Not being able to lend friends game to try out or even buying a used game because you might be a little tight on cash is probably the worst thing that could happen.

Dale: It’s 1 of 2 things.  1 – Microsoft is changing some things after seeing the backlash about these 2 topics and they aren’t ready move forward yet.  2 – They know that their stance on these issues is going to be controversial and didn’t address them at the reveal because they didn’t want the negative press right off the bat.  I think it’s the former because the latter would kill this console before it even comes out.

Kyle: That’s worrying, yes and really the only valid criticisms I see against the event. Again, with E3 around the corner people should’ve expected a lax presentation in that area but the fact that there still aren’t solid answers about game-lending and how often the system needs to be online to function isn’t good.

6. How do you think the pre-rendered cgi trailers for Forza 5 and Quantum Break stacked up to the live gameplay demo graphics of Killzone Shadowfall at the Playstation 4 reveal? How about the pre-rendered cgi demo of Capcom’s Deep Down?

Nick: I kind of preferred the pre-rendered videos, for the simple reason that we had the actual console on display with the Xbox One. We have no clue if the “actual game play” videos from the PS4 reveal were actually on a PS4. For all we know, the folks at Sony could have been playing it off of a computer.

Dylan: The graphics on display in the Killzone: Shadow Fall game play demo were more impressive than the pre-rendered game trailers for Forza 5 and Quantum Break. If we compare Capcom’s Deep Down tech demo to Tuesdays Xbox One game announcements, there’s no contest PS4>Xbone (kudos to GAF for that one)

Zach: When it comes down to it live gameplay is the best. If the trailer is pre-rendered it only shows how good the cgi is and not how the actual gameplay is.

Dale: Obviously, the actual game play is what gamers are interested in.  Judging by that aspect alone, PS4 has done a better job so far with the hardcore gamer community.

Kyle: Getting real gameplay footage from Sony is nice but game reveals and commercials for games already feature cgi-heavy sequences that I’m not surprised or disappointed that Microsoft didn’t go that route. Like I’ve said, I imagine we’ll get more in-depth stuff from E3 so I’m indifferent.

7. Do you think choosing to end the event with a third party game reveal was a wise choice?

Nick: Why wouldn’t they reveal a third-party game? If you’re revealing a console that doesn’t wind up having third-party support, that’s just bad form. EA’s statement that they wouldn’t be supporting the Wii U in the future could be a death blow. If they didn’t have a game that would be bought on any console announced early, everybody would be planning to get it for something else. It was the right call specifically because Microsoft needed people to know that major franchises were going to be on the new system.

Dylan: Considering almost everything Sony showed at their reveal was the work of first party developers, no I don’t think that closing with a multiplatform game was an intelligent decision.

Zach: I don’t think it was wise. They should have shown a Xbox one exclusive game to help seal the deal.

Dale: It’s an odd way to end the reveal, but Microsoft is probably thinking that the hype train for Call of Duty on the next generation console will work to their advantage in the short term because of their ability to release the DLC before Sony.  Both Sony and Microsoft will be doing whatever they can over the next few months to get people to choose their product come Christmas time.  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to hear a “USA, USA” chant from the Microsoft side before this is all over.

Kyle: I don’t really see why that’d be an issue for anybody other than the fact that they just don’t like Call of Duty. That’s fine but it being third party is fairly meaningless because they just chose it because it’s an incredibly successful franchise. While it would’ve been nice to see them focus on something Xbox One exclusive, there’s just too much of a market for Call of Duty games for it to be ignored and going out with something that focuses on something a lot of people will buy makes sense.

Grade Time:

Dylan: C

Zach: C

Dale: C

Kyle: B

Nicholas: B

As I mentioned during the opening of this article, no two of us though exactly alike. I think that Nick and I were on polar opposites, Dale and Zach were in favor of some aspects and against others, finally wouldn’t you know it, our entertainment guys was expecting exactly what he received. All in all the distaste of some and the joy of others are all just initial reactions in lieu of Microsoft and Sony’s E3 briefings being right around the corner. Let us know how you felt after watching the reveal in the comments below.

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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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  • Klondike

    It sounds to me like a Microsoft PR person infiltrated the staff. It’s either blind brand fanboyism or ignorance that fueled Nick’s answers.

    • B0B0

      His answers weren’t quite robotic enough to be a MS employee. It just sounds like he’s more of a casual gamer that will buy the system to watch tv and netflix more than play games.

    • Kyle Russell

      Crap, you caught us!

    • Nicholas Adam Villarreal

      They’re on to me! /LiarLiarOuttakes Honestly, I’m quite informed about the situation. I just treated the rumors surrounding the reveal as yellow journalism, and looked in to issues present that used official documentation (e.g. the content purchasing patent that directly covers the way that the Kinect 2.0 could be used with such features that recently came to light) to decide for myself what I thought of them, instead of letting other people’s opinions dictate my thoughts. At the end of the day, I’m just not as up in arms about what Microsoft has chosen to do with their new console as others are. The only downside is that I have a satellite TV service, so I can’t use the 360 or the One to replace my regular TV box … yet.

  • tokyostomp

    The reveal itself wasn’t particularly bad but I felt it was lackluster. Given that they had pushed this back a month in what I assumed was a response to Sony’s presentation I was expecting more of a wow factor. The tech is neat and I could definitely see some people embracing it, I feel that should have been more focus on games.

    I worst came after the reveal when various Microsoft employees were interviewed and a lot of the awful rumors were confirmed in one way or another.

    • I was definitely hoping for a head on response as well. Healthy competition makes everything better for us gamers. The poor marketing people and Phil Harrison were caught completely off guard when the media pressed them for answers.

      • tokyostomp

        One would think they would have made some preparations for these types of questions. Obviously the Xbox One will employee some DRM in regards to used games. They could not have been an overnight decision as the whole infrastructure would of been built with surrounding this “feature” . It just baffles the mind that there was not a company mandated response. It shows that Microsoft doesn’t know how to explain it (or doesn’t want to reveal it in full detail). It also makes the company look a bit shady in their tactics.

        If they didn’t want to reveal it yet, they should have said the standard “No Comment/Don’t comment on rumors” or just said we have something in place and are not ready to reveal it yet.

        The press would have most likely been negative but not to the extend to where it currently is.

        • Dale Zellmer

          I also think it’s amazing how neither Sony nor Microsoft spokespeople seem to know what they can/cannot reveal about their systems at this time. That’s where the real problem lies. It’s like they know the answers to the questions they’re being asked, but have trouble weeding out the “classified” info and end up sounding like they’re unprepared.

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