With the announcement of the Playstation 4 and now the Xbox One, consumers are left to wonder what each system will bring to the table. During their press conference, Microsoft announced the system and a general overview of it. The system was presented as an all-in-one entertainment console where users can find all of their “games, TV, movies, sports and more” in one place. With the announcement of the Playstation 4 and now the Xbox One, consumers are left to wonder what each system will bring to the table.
Without actually showing any games, the hype surrounding the next system seems to be coming on pure speculation and information being slowly released by Microsoft. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is right around the corner (June 11-13) and with that more information will most certainly be available. We do know, however, that the system will be available later this year – potentially aiming for a Holiday 2013 release alongside the Playstation 4.
If you’re not much of the reader and just want to know straight facts, each section has bullet points at the end to give you a summary of what was mentioned. Read that and you’ll be more or less just as informed as if you read all of the paragraphs.
Leading up to the reveal of the system, Microsoft has faced online backlash due to circulating rumors of a mandatory internet connection, the prevention of the usage of pre-owned games and the thought of a possible fee that would come with using pre-owned games – should they be available.
This was all clarified by Microsoft – for the most part – during their reveal. Fast forward past the reveal and more online outrage and rumors have circulated. Microsoft has released more information on the console, conveniently enough before the start of E3. The information has simmered down the backlash, but has not stopped it completely.
The system will require an internet connection and the games from the system will be powered through a cloud. In order to function, the system is required to connect to the internet every 24 hours. This connection lets the system know if you have “acquired new games, or resold, traded in, or given your game to a friend” in addition to checking for game and application updates.
“With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.”
“Because every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection, developers can create massive, persistent worlds that evolve even when you’re not playing.” With that statement, Microsoft infers the user has a broadband internet connection. Though the percentage of Xbox owners without internet connection is slim, requiring an internet connection leads to a cut in the number of buyers. According to a 2010 Gamasutra report, it was reported that 73 percent of Xbox 360 owners had their consoles connected to the internet, according to a research study by The Diffusion Group. This may be 2010 information, but there is a sliver of relevance.
The positive in having a low-power-state machine? Easy access to all of what you want, when you want. Though the Kinect sensor, which we will get to, requires a mandatory connection to the system, the idea that the system maintains a low power state when “off” allows it to update itself and leave its contents in a ready-to-run mode. After inserting its games and installing them, they will be accessible through any Xbox One console. This is because “a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud.” Meaning – if you were to use another Xbox One owner’s system with your log in information, you can access and play your games. This isn’t all of its developments, let’s run down what we know about its other components.
Console points summarized:
- Console must connect to the Internet once every 24 hours in order for games to function. If it doesn’t, gaming won’t play offline, but TV and other apps will be functional. However, it should be noted that an internet connection is required for – presumably – a bulk of the apps.
- The connection to the Internet will verify whether a game requires updates, if the user has purchased any new games, resold them, traded in, or loaned any games to a friend.
- The system is not backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games.
- User’s gamerscore will transfer to the new system, but it will be using a new achievement system.
- The system will be used as an all-in-one entertainment hub for users.
- Wi-Fi Direct will allow the console and smart wireless devices to connect and “speak directly” for fast connections “to a world of smart devices.”
- The low-powered state allows for fast load-up and always-updated games, eliminating your wait time.
- Wit the 5GHz wireless band, interference from other devices found in the home are virtually eliminated.
- Due to games always being installed, the system won’t require the game’s disc to play.
The sensor, unlike the current-gen sensor, requires a mandatory connection to the system in order for the console to function. That may not seem problematic to some users, but the problem most are finding with this is the fact that it consistently monitors the room and anyone in it even while the system is off. Microsoft writes, “At Microsoft, we prioritize your privacy. We understand that your personal data and privacy are important. Xbox One and Kinect will provide tools to put you in control of your data.” Having the Kinect always connected to your console won’t be a bad thing. Losing it will be a problem, though, and there isn’t word on how much it will cost as a standalone.
While consistently connected, Xbox One owners will be able to control whether the Kinect remains on, off or in a paused state. The Kinect will accept voice commands for more convenience for its users. Simple commands such as “Xbox On” and “Xbox Off” will power on and off your system. While off, the system “[is] only listening for the single voice command,” a feature that can be turned off. The accuracy of the Kinect sensor will allow a better log in and playing experience.
Kinect points summarized:
- Kinect must remain connected to the system in order for the console to function.
- Users control whether the Kinect is on, off or paused.
- Kinect will not record or upload what it sees and hears – can be edited through privacy settings.
- Some games will allow Kinect integration for things potentially including, but not being limited to: heart rate, bluffing in card games, workout progress and calories burned.
- The Kinect recognizes users and allows them to seamlessly sign into their consoles without much problems.
Catching the least amount of online criticism – it seems – is the Xbox One’s controller. Modeled after the current Xbox 360 controller, the One’s controller will add improvements and slight modifications in order to allow users to have more control – no pun intended. Last week Major Nelson simplified the layout of the information Microsoft released about the new console’s controller. Here’s a comparison screencap taken from Major Nelson’s (Larry Hryb) Vine:
With a new controller design comes new features. The first notable feature with the controller is the fact that it looks and should, ultimately, feel like the controller everyone is used to. It took the team 200 prototypes and 20 research studies in order to create the final model of the controller.
The new controller features impulse triggers that add additional feedback to users. In the new controller there are four vibration motors – one where each trigger sits that “adds precise haptic feedback to the fingertips” and a larger vibration motor in each grip for the proverbial large-scale feedback. With the additional trigger motors, games such as first-person shooters will allow users to have an enhanced gaming experience.
The headset for the One will feature an improved data transfer rate between the controller and the console. The improved data transfer rate will allow “higher fidelity audio in communication headsets” – meaning there will be crisper and clearer sounds coming from and going into the headset communicators. Xbox.com writes that the in-game chat for the console will many times be clearer than talking on a phone – a phone with how many bars, though?
The thumbsticks have been improved and so have the other buttons on the controller. The thumbsticks are smaller than the Xbox 360’s and have been “outlined with a knurled texture for better grip.” They write that the thumbsticks will need 25 percent less force to move, which allows gamers to adjust aim and perform moves in fighting games – for example – much more precisely and quickly.
The D-Pad has been revamped with a design that “pays homage to classic controllers” meaning that it has been created in a way that allows gamers to have “more precision and tactile feedback.” The cross shape resembles that of a design already used on Sony’s Playstation controllers. The A, B, X, Y buttons have been
- Four vibration motors add enhanced feedback while playing games (two in the grips, two in the triggers)
- Improved data transfer rates between the console and controller will allow for higher quality headset audio – at times clearer than talking on the phone.
- Thumbsticks have been made smaller and improved with 25 percent less force required to move them.
- New D-Pad allows for more accurate directional input.
- Buttons are closer together and lower for easier transitions; triggers have been revamped for comfort and also require “a lighter pull.”
- Seamless pairing, controller becomes associated with user by way of Kinect
- Low power state preserves battery life.
- New battery cavity built into controller; controller can also be used as a wired one by way of micro USB cable.
- No rechargeable batteries are built into the controller.
Many rumors have been circulating about what the Xbox One will do for its games. There were rumors that there were going to be fees and that users would never be able to play a pre-owned game as long as they have the system. The rumors have been mostly false. This is due to some clauses that come with playing games on an Xbox One system. Again, this is all coming from the information that has been released by Microsoft and doesn’t reflect the final product.
The ways games are currently set up to work is by way of a cloud, or so it seems. The One will bring a new-age of licensing for Microsoft. Microsoft has announced the system as being one where you can “buy the way you want – disc or digital – on the same day,” which doesn’t bring new technology to the table, but could possibly be one that is further pushed by Xbox.
Users will be able to access their game library from any Xbox One they’re logged into – regardless of having the original disc or not. When One owners sign in and put their disc in the system and a digital version of the game will be stored on the console and uploaded to the cloud. Doing so allows users to have access to their games wherever they go. In addition to being able to play games on any One system, any current users of the original Xbox One system will be able to play any of the already installed games regardless of their account.
Being able to trade in and resell games has been a point of profit for many retailers including GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon. The ability to continue accepting and selling these games is vital to the companies’ profits. Xbox writes that publishers are going to be allowed to enable their games to be traded in “at participating retailers.”
Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.
It seems many of the people outraged by the new trade policy believes it is Microsoft behind whether or not users can trade in games. From the quote above, it looks as though the publisher themselves are going to be the ones allowing their games to be traded in and resold.
Loaning/Selling to Friends/Non-retailers
After gamers are done with their games and no longer find replay value in them, they look to get rid of them by different means. Trading in has already been mentioned so that leaves a slim number of other options for them. The One’s new system of game detection may make users think twice about selling or buying games from friends.
Though there are no fees associated with loaning and selling games, there are two major requirements when doing so. Gamers are only allowed to give their games to those who have been on their friends list for a minimum of 30 days and each game can only be loaned/sold once.
Games in summary:
- Games will be available for purchase physically or digitally.
- Xbox One users will have access to their game library wherever they go without needing their original disc – possibly a method around the one loan/sell/trade in limit.
- Games installed on any One console will be available to anyone else who signs into that console.
- Up to 10 “family members” (could access be given to friends too?) can have access to your game library from any Xbox One just as the original account holder has (clarification needed on this one).
- No platform fees will be associated with Xbox first-party games. Third-party publishers have the option to do so.
- The transfer of disc-based games have no fees but are only allowed to be transferred once and transferers/transferees must be on each other’s friends list for a minimum of 30 days.
Don’t fret if the aforementioned information isn’t what you wanted in a system. This all really isn’t final until the system actually comes out. In addition to that, it seems that most of the “bad” in the system can be fixed by way of an over-the-air (OTA) firmware update.
Though there has been a lot released by Microsoft and it seems they’re in rather warm water due to the backlash, remember that for Playstation all that has really been released is information on the controller and not how the actual system works. It’s possible the system will be much like the Xbox One or completely different. We will not know until E3 on June 11.
Just know Microsoft is listening and will address any criticisms by the community. They are working to help build the ultimate system and if they field the most talked about inquiries, it seems as though they can help create a great system.
In the months ahead, we will continue to listen to your feedback as we meet with our partners in the ecosystem to bring additional detail about our policies.
Stay tuned for our full look during and after the Microsoft press conference going on later today.