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Wednesday, 22 May 2013 07:44

Xbox One leaves an impression

Written by David Stellmack

Still many questions remain unanswered

So, now we have the Xbox One, which is the new next-generation Microsoft console platform. The hardware is what we expected; the press conference was short on actual titles but long on vision and the entertainment uses of the new console.

The use of HDMI in that it will be used to control your cable or satellite box has left us our scratching our heads. While Comcast was mentioned, Microsoft was scant on the details. We think that unless Microsoft has the right kinds of partnerships in place with cable and satellite providers, things could be rocky. Everything from compatibility to functionality could be a big question mark.

We have to wonder: how excited cable and satellite providers will be with a device that uses their content, but at the same time directs their customers to other content? For example, in the cable of pay-per-view titles, how does the Xbox One select where to point the customer? To its own streaming pay-per-view titles, or to those of the cable/satellite provider? How will the Xbox One handle those cable/satellite boxes that are also DVRs? What kind of compatibility can we expect, and with which cable/satellite boxes? These are only a few of the questions that Microsoft didn’t answer and will have to answer prior to release.

While we didn’t see much about actual titles for the Xbox One, we do know that Forza 5 is planned as a launch title when the box arrives toward the end of this year. Microsoft is promising 15 Xbox One exclusive titles within the first 12 months of launch, and eight of them will be new IP. One of the eight is a new Remedy title called Quantum Break. EA Sports has four sports titles planned, including FIFA 14, UFC, NBA Live, and Madden NFL 25, which will use the new EA Sports Ignite engine and all four will be released before May 2014.

As for clearing up some of the rumors, that caused a stir. The big one: always having to have an “always on” Internet connection is false. While much of the functionality does require an Internet connection, just like the Xbox 360 of today, offline play is supported. Backward compatibility of both Xbox 360 game on disc and digital download XBLA titles is not supported. The Xbox One offers no backward compatibility. The rumor of an October 29th worldwide launch date remains unconfirmed.

Thus, with no announcement or confirmation of a price or launch date, in many ways it mirrored the Sony launch to that end. In an unexpected twist, however, Sony’s shares jumped 8.5% after the Microsoft press conference for the Xbox One, while Microsoft’s shares dropped 0.93%. We really have no idea if the stock price is an indication of anything.

What we are sure of is that Microsoft showed the actual console, which was more than a controller; but it fell short on talking about gaming content saying that it would deliver that information at the E3 press conference, which will be all about the games. This fact alone might cause a frosty reception by many gamers who were not interested in the TV technology or the new Kinect technology. While Microsoft says that the Xbox’s DNA is gaming, we will have to wait till E3 to get a much better picture of titles they are planning for the Xbox One. The rumor of a new Project Gotham title in development for the Xbox One, however, is something we can’t resist noting.

David Stellmack

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