We learned recently of the newest competition to the the Nintendo Wii U: the Xbox One.
You might have known it as the NextBox, the Xbox 720, or even the simplistic “next Xbox”, but after the official announcement, we now know that Microsoft’s next generation console is the Xbox One.
Console Overview Video:
First impressions count, and at a glance the Xbox One will go with a square, sleek look.
The Xbox One has a camera that must be plugged into the console itself. This is the manifestation of Microsoft’s plan to place built-in Kinect functionality in every console.
Xbox One: A Console of Many Restrictions
While the video boasts this camera lets the console “instantly respond to you”, this camera has also been the subject of much debate. DRM, or digital rights management, has become an issue any tech user should be aware of, and in the Xbox One’s case, it’s highly possible this camera could grant Microsoft the power to see who is in the room with facial recognition software. While your movie may pause when someone walks in front of the TV, the movie may not play entirely if one too many persons are watching that movie without paying.
Speaking of DRM, the Xbox One is required to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours to verify games. And with the camera and microphone hard-wired into the system itself, there’s no way to feel safe with “big brother” Xbox One in your living room.
Before you call me a Xbox or Microsoft hater (I’m not), the truth is that the camera can be disabled. However, Kinect funtionality cannot be disabled, and the microphone ability is still unknown as of this time. A disabled camera won’t solve the privacy issue.
Another subject of controversy is whether or not the Xbox One can play used games. While we know for sure that games can be played on more than one console, the games are insinuated to be tied with Xbox Live accounts. Purportedly, each different account the game is installed on and tied with means that each user will have to pay an “unlock fee” of an unspecified amount.
This unlock fee is rumored to really be full retail price. Since every game “installs” on the system, you don’t need the disc to play, but you’ll still need a hefty unlock fee.
Digital Trends explains the system well:
“Once the game is registered as having been sold as used, it will be deactivated off the hard drive of the original owner. The store then pays a fee and connects to Microsoft’s cloud network to reactivate the disc, with pieces of the fee going to both the game publisher and Microsoft. Then the store resells the game for £35, or about $53. That may be the very same fee you’d pay if a friend handed you the disc and you just tried to install it on Xbox One anyway.“
There’s one thing I’ve neglected to mention: the Xbox One is a wildly TV-centric console. It looks like the developers may have designed the Xbox One for TV watching before worrying about games.
Unfortunately, the setup the Xbox One uses for TV is disappointing.
Wired: “To work with a cable service, a CableCARD and software would have to be integrated into the device. If you’ve ever installed a CableCARD into something like a TiVo, you know it doesn’t always go as planned. Cards can stop being recognized by the operator. Sometimes channels you’ve subscribed too don’t always immediately work on systems with CableCARDs. Now instead of fielding calls about games not loading, Microsoft is troubleshooting dozens of cable and satellite providers.
Microsoft would also have to deal with multiple versions of the Xbox One for international sales. The European CableCARD, while similar to the U.S. version, is not interchangeable. In Japan, the cable and satellite cards wouldn’t even fit into the slot used by the U.S. market.”
Cloud connectivity means that the next Microsoft console user will enjoy plenty of internet-based functions. In fact, the Xbox One will use a form of the Windows operating system, along with the Xbox OS, so Xbox One gamers will enjoy plenty of internet-connected apps.
Next Generation Comparisons:
The Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U all make up the power players of the next generation of home consoles. While it’s easy to compare the stats below, and call the Xbox One or PS4 the winner, let’s take all the factors into account that aren’t shown, like consumer reception.
In terms of raw hardware power, both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 blow the Wii U away. The Wii U looks to be inferior with only 2GB total RAM. However, the Wii U is the only backward-compatible console, and the most innovative. Is that a fair tradeoff?
1. Playstation 4
The Playstation 4 is on top for a reason. It’s the most powerful console, and it has been well-received by many developers, so there shouldn’t be a lack of quality games.
While it suffers from some of the DRM issues that are plaguing it’s Xbox One rival, those DRM hang-ups are not nearly as an imposing problem; the PS4 will play used games, it doesn’t force an internet connection, and there isn’t any built-in camera watching you.
The waters are a bit murky about Sony’s DRM stance, but Sony appears to be hearing fans’ pleas to avoid the same DRM mistake Microsoft just made.
The Playstation 4 is innovative, and that’s great. While Sony’s next-gen console is not nearly as “eye-poppingly” imaginative as the Wii U’s interesting GamePad controller, the PS4′s HD graphics and well designed Dual Shock style of control will please fans.
Comparable to Xbox One:
The Xbox One is actually a more powerful console than the PS4, mainly because of the Xbox One’s ability to have apps with a internal way to switch between a modified Microsoft Windows 8 OS and the Xbox OS.
However, on an HDTV the graphics should look very similar. Truly, the Xbox One is not that much better in raw power than the PS4.
2. Wii U
The Wii U, at least for right now, deserves second place. As the true first next-gen console, it’s had plenty of time to build to show us what it’s got.
Unfortunately, it’s been a bumpy ride so far with the Wii U. It might be the most innovative next-gen console, but sales have been disappointing.
Very Risky Innovation:
Although Nintendo definitely took a gamble with the controller design, it doesn’t appear to be paying off. Again, the Wii U recently has suffered slumping sales, possibly from a lack of Nintendo-made titles, or possibly from a lack of good marketing.
The Wii U doesn’t have near as much raw power as either the Xbox One or the Playstation 4, but it has the most innovative controller, and if having a screen on the GamePad eventually attracts mobile and tablet users (with good marketing), the Wii U will be successful.
Comparable to Nothing:
The Wii U is so different from the Xbox One and the PS4, and that’s what Nintendo intended. Presenting itself as the most unique, different console on the market may end up to be a good decision on Nintendo’s part.
3. Xbox One
Last, and definitely least, we have the Xbox One. Fresh out of the announcement gates, it hasn’t fared well at all. Hopefully, we’ll receive better information from Microsoft, but in the meantime, the Xbox One is in dead last.
While having better raw specs than the Wii U, and possible barely outdoing the Playstation 4, all of Xbox One’s benefits seem cast aside by major issues.
As the text way above explains, the Xbox One requires:
1. An internet connection that must spill information to Microsoft at least once everyday
2. A view of your living room (with the built-in camera)
3. A fee (rumored to be close to full retail price) to play used games on a different console or account
Those three things don’t go over well with gamers who:
1. Don’t have an internet connection
2. Don’t want Microsoft sitting in their living room
3. Have been buying/and selling used games without hefty fees for years
Xbox One’s used game mess is a major issue in itself. How will this affect the gaming economy? Video game retailer and reseller GameStop makes far more profit off of used games than new games.
Comparable to Playstation 4:
If you’re looking at raw hardware, the Xbox One actually edges over the Playstation 4, and of course, outdoes the Wii U by far. If you think the Kinect camera and Windows application ability are a plus, than it’s slightly more powerful that the Playstation 4.
Horrible Consumer Reception:
The Xbox One launch will not be remembered positively. Even Microsoft seems surprised by the outpour of negative comments, and among the craziness of questioning, multiple official answers contradict each other.
Xbox One appears to be the most powerful console, but until some of it’s issues are explained, it could be a loser from the start.
A final note: Microsoft seems to be blaming the gaming media for the reaction to the Xbox One. From what I’ve written, call me biased, but until the dust settles and we receive clarification from Microsoft executives who don’t contradict each other’s statements, I’m sticking with my gut.
Everyone I’ve talked to, including fans on Twitter, all come to the same conclusion: for now, the Xbox One is just disappointing.
Feel free to share this with friends, and get the next-gen debate going! You can also tell me what you think about the next generation of consoles in the comments below.
After tremendous backlash from gamers for the Xbox One’s used games fiasco, Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One system will be changed to accommodate used games. According to Microsoft, there won’t be any used game fees or mess as planned, and the Xbox One won’t have to connect to the internet everyday, but it will need to connect to the internet at least once.
The Kinect camera-watching-you-problem hasn’t changed, and neither has the pricetag: $499.
Even with the update about the Xbox One, I’m still left with no choice but to leave the rankings where they are, with the Xbox One still in last.