Microsoft and the Xbox One – Where We Stand

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So to say that Microsoft has a bit of a rocky road ahead of it going into the holiday season with the Xbox One is probably an understatement. At Sony’s big press conference last night they didn’t even try to remain humble or nice about it – they took very direct shots at Microsoft and came out on top. As much as I like Sony and will probably be getting a PS4 close to launch even I have to say that some of the stuff they have done is a little unsportsmanlike.

Sure, the Xbox One has its issues. Who doesn’t? That doesn’t mean that people should count the Xbox One out all together.

Let’s look at where things stand as of now.

The console will be launching in November with a price tag of $499. Yeah, so, five hundred bucks sounds like a lot, right? Except that the Kinect 2 system which is bundled with the console is probably worth a good $100-$150 in it’s own right. Subtract that and the system is pretty much the same price as the PS4 at launch. The obvious problem being that you can’t subtract that. The Kinect 2 is an integrated, mandatory feature of the Xbox One console. You need it for the system to operate.

Plus with 3rd party support and awesome titles like Titanfall the Xbox One has got some steam.

Plus with 3rd party support and awesome titles like Titanfall the Xbox One has got some steam.

Still, a November launch at $500 is not the unreasonbale $600 that the PS3 launched at back in 2006. It’s a reasonable price for a pretty solid system.

And Kinect 2? It’s kind of cool. If you’re looking for an all around multimedia center and game console then the Xbox One with it’s built in Kinect 2 sensor is for you. You can give it voice commands, motion commands, and it’s always on ready to respond. Of course, the constant surveillance – and the fact that the system is required to hook up to the internet daily – may be reason for concern. Microsoft swears that it doesn’t record or project anything but you know, who knows? It’s going to offer some awesome gimmicks for games, though.

Xbox One controller 1-580-75

The controller, too, is pretty awesome. It looks way better designed than the PS4 controller which seems a bit wide and awkward with its touch screen. And the rumble feature in the triggers on the Xbox One controller? Yeah. That’s got to be super cool.

I think Microsoft’s Smart Glass is pretty cool, too. Granted, the Wii U has the tablet, and the PS4 has the Vita while also supporting connectivity with tablets and phones – and not just those made by Sony. So it’s not like Microsoft is the only one doing this. But the Wii U tablet isn’t a seperate device and the PS4’s second screening abilities are still in the works and exclusive to the PS4. The Microsoft Smart Glass app works now on your iPhone and offers you a look at the next gen today with games you’re already playing on your Xbox 360.

What’s the biggest selling point of the Xbox One, though?

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The games.

Microsoft always has the most – and often some of the best – exclusives in the console war. Okay, so, it did last generation. The PS2 clearly owned the Xbox. But you’re just not going to find a series with more support out there than Halo. Other exclusives locked down by Microsoft include Ryse: Son of Rome, Quantum Break, Respawn’s Titanfall, the mysterious game D4, Crimson Dragon – a Panzer Dragoon spiritual sequel, and Dead Rising 3. They claim to have thirteen exclusive properties on the books already, which doesn’t seem like a stretch. Microsoft has the capital to buy developers’ exclusivity.

I still can't believe this is a freakin' exclusive.

I still can’t believe this is a freakin’ exclusive.

These games alone will be a reason to own an Xbox One… eventually. Just not right away, in my opinion. 

And a lot of Sony games that over the years were exclusive to the Playstation family of consoles have become cross-platform games. Final Fantasy XIII was the big one this generation with Metal Gear Solid also starting to jump ship. Next generation, we’ll also see Final Fantasy XV on the Xbox One long with Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain and the long awaited Kingdom Hearts III.

Yeah, Kingdom Hearts III. On the Xbox One.

Specs-wise, the Xbox One is pretty decent. You can all that information here:

Optical Drive Blu-Ray/DVD
Game DVR Yes
RAM 8GB DDR3
CPU 8 Core Microsoft custom CPU
Storage 500 GB Hard Drive
Second Screen SmartGlass
Cloud Storage Yes
Mandatory Game Installs Yes 
Required Internet Connection Yes 
Used Game Fee No
Backwards Compatibility None
Cross Game Chat Skype 
Motion Control Kinect 2
Voice Commands Yes
Subscription Service Xbox Live
USB USB 3.0
Live Streaming Yes
Reputation Preservation Achievements will be ported
Web Connection Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi
BlueTooth Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR) 
A/V Hookups HDMI input and output (4K support), Optical output

Seems like a fairly solid system, right?

Yeah…

Let’s talk about all the bad news. Namely, the Xbox One’s used game restrictions, limitations on sharing, and the fact that it requires a constant internet connection.

Okay, so, maybe the internet connection does not have to be constant. But it does require that you connect to the Internet at least once every 24 hour period. You also have to validate your game discs online via the console and cannot use them if you skip this step. This basically means that people who do not have Internet in their homes or do not have the ability to hook up their consoles cannot play any games offline. Some people – my roommate included – don’t seem to care. They scoff and ask, “Who doesn’t have Internet that they can hook into constantly?”

Next time NBC News runs this story we'll be seeing PS4s and PS4 games there.

Next time NBC News runs this story we’ll be seeing PS4s and PS4 games there.

Soldiers overseas. Navel personnel out on maneuvers. People in rural parts of the United States. The rest of the world that doesn’t have access to high speed internet and have to rely on dial up still.

There are lot of people without constant Internet access.

And Microsoft’s response? Stick with the 36o, because you’re shit out of luck.

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Another problem? Once you validate your game disc, it’s yours. Only yours. You can’t lend it to a friend. You can’t sell it. As it stands now, Microsoft is looking to impose very strict limitations on used games of any kind. So don’t expect to be able to buy games used, trade in games for new games, or even just lend them to your friends.

Now, Microsoft keeps saying things about lending games to friends, but what they say isn’t encouraging. Last I heard you might have the option to lend a game to a friend you’ve been friends with on Live for more than a month… once. Or, if you set up a ‘Microsoft Family’ then maybe there are ten people you can let borrow games… but just those ten people. Hope you don’t have more than ten friends. I mean, I don’t so this is probably fine.

This is another big problem for me because you know who this starts to disenfranchise? Youth centers with multiple systems for kids to use. USO centers for soldiers and their families with multiple systems. Children’s hospitals with multiple systems. And that’s just who I can think of off the top of my head.

So much for this awesome gaming center serving service members with the 379th in the Horn of Africa.

So much for this awesome gaming center serving service members with the 379th in the Horn of Africa.

And Xbox Live? You still need to have one account per individual. Meanwhile Sony is opening it up so that if you pay for PSN Plus on one account every account on the system can play online. That is cool.

So, yeah.

This is where we stand. The Xbox One has a great periphery (even if it’s mandatory) in the Kinect 2 with a lot of potential for some pretty great entertainment and media connectivity. Plus, it’s got some great exclusives lined up like only Microsoft can deliver. For people who are die hard Microsoft fans the choice will be easy. Get an Xbox One, port your Live account, and game on.

For those on the fence, though? The Xbox One’s limitations on used games, inability share games, necessity of a constant Internet connection, and the flippant attitude they seem to have when questioned about it are not going to win them any new fans.

Unless Microsoft does some major back pedaling the PS4 is angling to win this console war.