So Microsoft’s new console, ridiculously name the Xbox One, was unveiled last week to a less than overwhelmed audience. While there was plenty of applause during portions of the reveal, the aftermath of the presentation left the majority of gamer community like this:
The reveal seemed to be about several things:
- the Xbox One is your one stop entertainment device
- it’ll play sports games, racing games, and the next Call of Duty
- it’s all about the cloud
- Kinect is your friend (or it better become your friend since it’s always going to be there even if you don’t want it around)
The first bullet point seemed to be a huge turnoff to almost everyone, despite the fact that it’s something you can completely ignore if you don’t care about it. It was almost another facepalm moment reading and listening to everyone putting so much emphasis on a feature that they’ll probably never use. I might be able to understand if it were something that would be an impediment to using the console, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Having a Kinect bundled with every console was also mostly met with negativity. Partly I think this is because it’s going to increase the cost of the console and partly the fact that it was stated that it always has to be one (mainly to allow you to just say “Xbox on” to start the console it appears). I understand Microsoft trying to make the device more attractive to both gamers and developers, but with the recent backlash about Kinect snooping on people and gather all kinds of data that has the possibility of being obtained by other people (why this is a big deal I’ve yet to figure out since the data it gathers doesn’t appear to be of the kind that could be used against a person or be embarrassing, unless you’re the type of person to be doing stuff in front of it that you wouldn’t do in public) I think MS is making a mistake here. The crop of Kinect-enabled games this generation was mostly ignored. The only one I really got into more than a little bit was UFC Trainer and that lasted maybe two months.
Of these, only the 2nd bullet point would be something gamers care about and the two genres are not among the biggest and it seems CoD is not the big draw it used to be. In addition, the fact that it’s not backward compatible was a huge turnoff to many. Why this is the case, I’m not sure. I’d be willing to bet the majority of gamers won’t be playing Xbox 360 games for very long after they get the new console.
Additional confusion came about after a couple of statements were made that weren’t completely clear – the XBLA and XBLIG channels would be going away; all games would be lumped together (hopefully with better discoverability tools!) and indies would not be able to self-publish on the new console. This led many to believe that it’s not going to be possible for indies to get their games on the console at all, since there’s about .000000001% possibility for the average indie developer to get a publisher interested enough in their game to pick it up and publish it.
Granted, this seems to have been cleared up a bit since Don Matrick was quoted on Kotaku and other sites saying
“We’re going to have an independent creator program. We’re going to sponsor it. We’re going to give people tools. That is something we think—I think—is important. That’s how I started in the industry. There’s no way we’re going to build a box that doesn’t support that.”
Of course, many people are now saying that the left hand of Microsoft doesn’t know what the right is doing and that people within the company are contradicting themselves. Some days you just can’t win I guess.
It appears that indies are going to be ok on the Xbox One (I’m going to start shortening it to X1 I think since I think those who are using the derogatory "Xbone” are showing themselves as haters or jumping on the anti-MS bandwagon. To those people, this.) Still, I’m not committing myself to the X1 until after E3 and Build. I really hope MS does the smart thing and brings back XNA Game Studio in some form. XBLIG has made them a good bit of money and brought indie game development to the level where people can make a decent living off of it.