Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So...Did The Xbox Event Win Me Over?

In a word, no. Not even close. Let's take a look at my list from yesterday's blog post, which detailed five ways Microsoft could sway the Sony faithful.

1.) Quality, New Exclusives? least not yet.

A new Forza game was announced, but aside from that, the few games they did discuss were EA Sports titles and the new Call of Duty, both of which I can play on a PS4 just as easily. Microsoft spent very little time discussing games at all. Their focus is clearly on entertainment as a whole. We did get a promise that a number of new IPs are coming from Microsoft Studios.

2.) Powerful and Affordable-

The specs are decent, but clearly out powered by the PS4. Casual consumers see they both have 8GB of RAM. What they don't see is PS4 has the much faster GDDR5 RAM compared to Xbox One's (yes, that's really the name) more common DDR3 RAM. The PS4 also has a GPU roughly 33% more powerful.

As to how this will matter when it actually comes to games? It all depends on which platform third parties utilize as the so-called, lead platform. If they design the game for Xbox One and port up to PS4, then the difference won't be very noticeable. However, if they design it for PS4 or PC and then port down to the Xbox One, PS4 will have a fairly noticeable edge. First party titles will most likely look excellent on either system, but again, a slight edge to the PS4.

They didn't announce a price.

3.) Free On-line-
Unknown...but unlikely.

Again, they didn't officially announce this, but after a barrage of other anti-consumer announcements, I think it's safe to say they will continue charging a monthly fee for Xbox Live.

4.) More Open Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA)-

Nothing reported yesterday leads anyone to believe it will be easier for indie developers to get their titles on XBLA. In fact, reports surfaced claiming Microsoft will not allow self-publishing, while earlier reports have indicated the PS4 will allow it.

5.) Don't make it "always online"-

Here we have yet another murky issue and Microsoft is struggling to give an adequate explanation. To the question, does my console ALWAYS have to be online, even for single player games? The answer is no. The one significant caveat is the report that you're Xbox One must have access to the internet at least once every 24 hours to check-in. So what happens if you're without internet for more than 24 hours? That question remains unanswered at this point.

And while I didn't include it on my initial list, I honestly never believed Microsoft would completely block used games. In some ways, the news is worse than we imagined. We've seen a series of bungled statements from top-level management at Microsoft, websites have written and re-written stories, and even Gamestop's CEO is throwing quotes out there and thus, adding to the confusion.

In short, Microsoft is attempting to make significant changes to the way we buy and sell games. This much is confirmed; you WILL be able to sell and trade-in games, yet used games will require you pay a fee to access the game...a fee that is reportedly the full price of the game. Sound confusing? It is.

What's most disappointing is Microsoft seemed totally inept and even a little caught off guard by the questions every gamer is asking. Statements should have been prepared with clear, concise responses. Rather than saying, "we're not ready to talk about that yet," Microsoft should have made a strong push to effectively squash the rumors surrounding Xbox One.

If those rumors are true, and it seems they are at least in part, Microsoft should have attempted to soften that message through clarity and explanation. Yesterday was supposed to be the celebration of a new console generation; instead, we now know for certain gamers just aren't Microsoft's focus anymore.

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