Friday, June 19, 2015

Poor Xbox One... update

I wrote in a previous blog post about the problems I saw with the Xbox One a bit over half a year ago. (You should read that post before this one because this is just an update on it. I'm not going to repeat the same points.)

It seems that Microsoft has really learned their lesson. There were two major features about their E3 conference that people clearly noticed:
  1. Not a single mention of the kinect. Not the device itself, not a single kinect game.
  2. The presentation was 100% about games, rather than multimedia.
This was, in a sense, a rather 180-degree turn compared to their console pre-launch presentations, where they constantly hyped the kinect and the multimedia capabilities of the console. That didn't sit well with the public, and Microsoft clearly learned their lesson.

There's one small problem with that, though: While Microsoft has not technically speaking abandoned the kinect (they have said that they have some kinect games in development), in practice it seems so. Which means that all the hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of people who bought the console while it had kinect as a non-optional peripheral bundled into it, are worse off. They paid something like $100 for a piece of hardware that will see little to no love from game developers, even from Microsoft themselves.

Also, many have commented that without the kinect the Xbox One is simply a slightly less powerful PS4. (Their hardware is indeed surprisingly identical, except that the Xbox One has slower RAM or something like that, which makes it slightly less efficient.)

Another new announcement they made was the backwards compatibility mode with the Xbox 360. In other words, in the near future (if not even right now) you will be able to play Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One. (The way it works is a bit quirky. You put the original Xbox 360 game disc into the console, which verifies its authenticity, but then it doesn't run the game from the disc. Instead, it downloads a version of the game from Microsoft, which has been repackaged for the compatibility mode, and runs that. While this is a bit quirky, it will probably allow them to sell Xbox 360 games from their online store more easily.)

People have commented that this is way, way too late. If this feature had been there from the very beginning, it would have most probably boosted sales of the console. It would have given a lot more incentive for Xbox 360 owners to buy the console. Now, over two years later, however, it's way too late. Xbox 360 games are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. While the feature may be nice for people who already own the Xbox One, it's unlikely to entice many non-owners to buy it now. Microsoft should have really went the extra mile and made it a launch feature, rather than coming over two years later.

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