Microsoft has seemingly backed itself into a not-too-promising corner with gamers who were expecting something more akin to Sony's PS4 reveal. Instead, they were presented with an hour long event that was not necessarily aimed at them.
The console maker is expected to turn their attention to the gaming community by the time E3 rolls around in a couple of weeks but the Xbox One reveal event had more than its fair share of ugly due to missteps both in and outside of Microsoft's big tent on the Redmond, Washington campus.
The Xbox One will launch later this fall before Thanksgiving. GameStop expects the price to be less than that of the Xbox 360 at launch.
Land of Confusion
This would have gone under the missing heading if not for a certain Wired article concerning how the Xbox One will handle used games and always be online. By not directly explaining how the concepts behind the always online console and how pre-owned, rented or borrowed during the event, Microsoft left the interpretation completely open to the press which is always dangerous. There were quick interviews and follow-ups with seemingly conflicting information and no true one clear voice on how these things will work on the console. And even when it put out a definitive statement in a FAQ or on MajorNelson.com, the company didn't provide a complete and forthright answer which only leads to more rampant speculation.
The amazing thing though about the piling on over Microsoft’s used game scheme is that Sony was able to deftly avoid any controversy since its reveal of the PS4 by not mentioning it at all. However, it is clear the console maker has a similar plan in the works following comments from GameStop today during an earnings call and Electronic Arts ditching its Online Pass.
The Wrong Focus
The Xbox One is supposed to be an All in One console but Microsoft's presentation certainly didn't feel like it. It wasn't just the lack of games announced or shown it was that there was very little mentioned about what makes the Xbox One great for playing games. It's great that Microsoft wants to hit as broad an audience as possible but what is it about the device that is going to make a gamer want to plunk down a couple of hundred dollars and sign up for Xbox LIVE Gold at $60 a year? It certainly isn't Skype or TV shows.
Steam-ifying the Home Console
The model for the next-gen consoles appears to be that the disk consumers purchase is just a delivery method for games. In truth, Microsoft (and likely Sony) would prefer it if consumers bought the game online and downloaded it to their consoles. That's why both will install the games completely to the hard drive. That's why the Xbox One is apparently required to periodically "phone home" to verify game licenses and such. That's why each game install is tied to a specific account.
If this sounds familiar, it is because it is very similar to Valve's Steam service. This also puts up a huge roadblock on lending games to friends, renting games and selling games once done with them. There are questions that still need to be answered by Microsoft and Sony but it represents the most dramatic shift in consumer ownership of console games in the history of the industry - and not to the benefit of the consumer.
Pissed off Gamers
The backlash to Microsoft's Xbox One reveal, the Wired article and the confused response from Microsoft was immediate and vicious from the gaming community. This is the group that will be more apt to purchase the console at launch than someone looking for an entertainment device. They can just as easily go pick up a Roku for a $100 or less if they want that. Microsoft is going to have to come heavy with the gaming focus at E3 with not just a large lineup of exclusives but a lineup of exclusives that makes gamers have wet dreams to regain what was lost from the Xbox One reveal.