|The new "Xbox One."|
Much to the disappointment of the hardcore gaming crowd, Microsoft’s press conference was dominated by talk of multi-media capabilities, centralizing the living room experience, and how nifty the new Xbox One would be for browsing the web from your television and switching between applications seamlessly.
There was very little talk when it came to games, and even that small portion was dominated by sports titles, a single racing game, and a new “Call of Duty” shooter in the works. Microsoft assured everyone that big game announcements, including several new exclusive properties, would be forthcoming at the E3 conference in three weeks. But that’s small comfort to the millions who tuned in hoping to hear something more exciting than hardware specs.
Speaking of hardware specs, they seem to be exactly what we expected. In fact, the specs are so dead close to what Sony has in store with the PS4 as to be nearly identical. At least insofar as the big numbers being tossed around as talking points. In terms of processing power, it’s going to be an 8 core chip with 64 bit architecture; just as Sony announced for their upcoming console. And the RAM is set to be 8GB, once again, just like Sony.
Rumors speculated that the new Xbox One would come equipped with a blu-ray drive, and that turned out to be true. And the debates that raged over the possibility of the new console requiring an always-on internet connection have finally been put to rest. While the topic was only marginally addressed during the press conference, Geoff Keighley of GT.TV tackled the subject head-on in his interview with Don Mattrick immediately following. According to Microsoft’s President of Interactive Entertainment, certain features of the Xbox One, such as streaming movie content and multiplayer matches, will of course require a connection to be present. But gamers can still play single-player titles without the presence of the internet. So that should put quite a few minds to rest.
On a more personal note, I found the whole conference and the various announcements somewhat disappointing. Microsoft seemed to place a disturbingly heavy emphasis on the Xbox One as a multimedia hub, and barely made mention of its abilities as a game machine. I honestly got the impression that Microsoft was doing its best to appeal to the widest market possible, regardless of their interest in gaming, and that their biggest focus was on the demographic of frat boy football fans, barely bothering to acknowledge their core fanbase of socially awkward gamers.
Despite all the advanced hardware keeping under wraps inside the case, the outer appearance of the Xbox One is very old-fashioned looking. I’d go so far as to call it ugly. Big, heavy, and all angles; just like a VCR from 1980. The fact that the Kinect sensor still hasn’t been integrated with the box itself, and still requires a massive plank of plastic to be clamped above your TV, certainly doesn’t help matters.
All in all, we got a lot of new information today, most of which will be of very little interest to the hardcore gaming crowd, and were left with a lingering promise of more details to be released in three weeks at E3. Whether or not Xbox One is able to continue Microsoft’s trend of dominating the video game space is really dependent on what sort of games they can bring audiences, and for more info on that, we’ll have to wait. What I am certain of, is that soccer moms across the country will be completely confused by this device’s name when it hits stores shelves later this year.
Soccer Mom: “I’m looking for an Xbox. It’s the new one my son needs.”
Store Clerk: “Okay, the Xbox One, right?”
Soccer Mom: “No, no... the new one. Not the first one.”
Store Clerk: “Right, it’s called the Xbox One.”
Soccer Mom: “Wait a minute, the one he has is 3-something. Don’t you have a higher number than 3? I don’t want an old one. I want the new one.”
Store Clerk: *smacks head and takes a deep breath for the fifteenth time that day*