Yesterday was a big day in the gaming world – it is not every day one of the power three (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony) launches a new console, but that is just what we were treated to with the unveiling of the Xbox One.
With the global Xbox teams and world’s tech media descending on Seattle it was bound to be big news from the start, but we can’t help the feeling that maybe what we got has left us a bit flat.
The lines between the gaming and entertainment worlds have become steadily more and more blurred over recent years with existing consoles clambering to be the first to add new apps like BBC iPlayer and YouTube. Xbox One however, seems to have taken this to a whole new level, promising an ‘all-in-one, entertainment centre’.
Designed to sit squarely at the centre of the living room the new console not only boasts an added Blu-ray drive and Skype functionality but will become the first device of its kind to host an exclusive live-action TV series based on its best selling Halo franchise, directed by Microsoft fan, Steven Spielberg no less.
Combine this with a five-year deal with the US National Football League, which will allow sports fans the ability to catch up on stats and replays, it seems the focus from the start was more viewing than gaming related content.
It is a bold move. Traditionally Xbox has a history of affinity amongst the most hardcore of gamers. With titles like Halo, Call of Duty and Gears of War all showcasing on the platform it has become the choice of millions around the world. How then does the new ‘entertainment centre’ keep them happy?
Although the unveiling of the console itself came within minutes of the keynote, it was a full 30 minutes or so before any mention of games. Even so, the attention was more on Kinect (not a favourite of many traditional gamers) than core titles.
The Kinect will receive an upgrade, meaning it will be so responsive it can ‘even track your heartbeat’, showing the commitment to making this a real gameplay accessory is there, but is this enough to satisfy the most hardcore fans? Maybe new titles from Ubisoft, Activision and EA will add to the appeal, alongside the latest Forza 5, direct from Microsoft studios.
With E3 fast approaching, Microsoft has, like any good consumer tech PR would, left some of the details till another day – most notably price and availability dates.
We would anticipate this may form part of its traditional opening keynote in LA but overall the long awaited first unveiling should score a thumbs up for the casual gamer. However, we might want to avoid the Twittersphere for hardcore gaming fans if we were an Xbox exec.