At last weeks event, Microsoft revealed its new gaming system, the Xbox One. At the event, Microsoft discussed at length the features their new system had. It may have left many a gamer perplexed, with the company focusing chiefly on the system's multimedia capabilities. Much like Sony, Microsoft isn't just aiming for the gaming market this time around.
Living Room Supremacy
The power is there for massive innovation, but we haven't quite seen the games that might bring it on either the Xbox One or the PS4. The console wars of this generation may very well focus around the battle to be the one stop living room box. The new Kinect voice recognition seems impressive, allowing users to bring up shows and channels through simple commands. Although small, a meaningful capability of the system is that with a voice command it can load up your live TV. This seamless integration helps to sell the Xbox One as the central hub of your living room, as opposed to a mere add-on. Given Microsoft's acquisition of Skype, we can imagine video chat will be seamlessly integrated into the console. The question is if these features are enough to appeal to the average consumer and not just gamers looking for a little extra.
There is no doubt that the Xbox One features impressive power. The specs combined with the new Kinect camera open up a range of possibilities. At the event however, one couldn't help but feel that Microsoft forgot what the Xbox is: a game system. While they say they will have a full display of titles at E3, one still would have expected a bit more at the unveiling given the stage time Sony gave developers at their event.
The controller has been updated, not changed. While Microsoft claims 40 updates to the controller, none of them seem to be of the level of the touch screens the Wii U and PS4 controllers sport. Additionally, it seems like trading and selling games will be done strictly through Microsoft's system, which might mean additional fees. Add in a lack of backwards compatibility and it makes for a disappointing picture.
Many hoped that beyond the expected all in one living room features of the Xbox One, we would get a taste of futuristic gaming in the form of augmented reality. Unfortunately, we didn't see any Google Glasses like technology at the event, but that doesn't mean Microsoft won't be trying to create a more immersive gaming experience. The system's new controller sports an enhanced rumble feature that can travel throughout the controller, mirroring on-screen gameplay. Controller rumble features have been decidedly superficial in the past, but this opens up a lot of new possibilities for immersion.
Microsoft claims that Kinect can track your heart beat. Features like this suggests that maybe Kinect will be the gateway to the future for the Xbox One. Microsoft's research project Illumiroom also demonstrated some pretty impressive possibilities with the Kinect. While we have not heard anything from Microsoft on the future of this project, it wouldn't be surprising to see it become part of the Xbox One.
Playing To Two Crowds
There is no doubt that Microsoft will move millions of units with their console. The question is whether they can really change the role of the videogame console to a living room hub without alienating gamers in the process.
Guest Post from Paul Williams. Paul is a mobile game concept artist, overall technology enthusiast, and a copywriter for a few sites – including clearwirelessinternet.com. Have a comment or question for Paul? Send him an email!