Yesterday at a special presentation, Microsoft formally announced the Xbox One. Now that the company has finally produced a clearer impression of the console, we can look back at the rumors that had been following it for the last several months. Here's a list of what came true, what didn't, and what we still don't know.
Confirmed: Xbox 360 games incompatible with Xbox One
The Xbox One's switch to an x86 hardware architecture means that Xbox 360 games are being left out in the cold. Xbox Live corporate VP Marc Whitten confirmed it today, saying: "The system is based on a different core architecture, so back-compat doesn't really work from that perspective."
This backs up a Bloomberg report from April which stated the lack of BC in no uncertain terms, and seems to dispel a follow-up rumor from shortly after that claimed you could pay a little extra for the functionality.
Confirmed: Revised controller with improved ergonomics
As you may have expected, the hardware announcement included a revised controller. It is said to be more ergonomic, and includes an integrated battery, impulse triggers, wi-fi directed radio share, and a newly redesigned D-pad. Fighting game fans rejoice.
Confirmed: Xbox bets big on entertainment
We expected to see Microsoft expand its entertainment plans today, but the console manufacturer actually devoted a significant chunk of its one-hour stage time to the concept. Not only will the Xbox One act as a cable box, allowing for seamless switching between games and TV, the company put time into showcasing its ESPN partnership, and NFL functionality with Fantasy teams. To top it all off, the company announced a "premium" Halo series to be executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Despite all that, it won't act as a TV DVR, so you'll have to rely on your normal methods of recording TV shows.
Confirmed: Kinect is always watching you
A newly revised and more sensitive Kinect will be packed in with the system, and Microsoft confirmed that it will always be on and watching you -- even down to frightening detail like measuring your heartbeat. The Kinect is more integrated into the system's identity from the start this time, as Microsoft calls it the "binding power" that brings together the system, controller, and SmartGlass. It will also be coming to PC at some point, though Microsoft hasn't detailed when.
Unresolved: The free-to-play push
Today's presentation didn't go into detail about many games, but those Microsoft did address didn't appear to be free-to-play. EA Sports showed off its line-up, Remedy introduced a new game called Quantum Break, and the presentation devoted plenty of time to Call of Duty: Ghosts. Microsoft also mentioned that it plans 15 exclusive games in the first year, eight of which will be new franchises. But none of this tells us which, if any, will be free-to-play.
Unresolved: Always-on Internet not required, but...
In a short interview, Microsoft's Don Mattrick said that an always-on connection is not required, but that gamers will want to be connected for services like multiplayer and streaming. That said, a system Q&A draws a vague line of distinction between always-on and Internet-required. "No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet," it notes.
Just what this means is still a bit of a mystery. Microsoft's Phil Harrison told Kotaku that it would require a connection every 24 hours, but then a representative told Polygon that Harrison was describing "potential scenarios." Check out Andrew Yoon's editorial for some of our concerns about these implications.
Unresolved: Respawn's game is Xbox exclusive
Though Microsoft was sure to give Activision center stage for Ghosts, the presentation went by without a mention of Respawn's debut title. We're inclined to think this means it won't be an exclusive after all, since that's the sort of thing that Microsoft would probably want to make a point of during its big hardware reveal. But this presentation on the whole was light on games, and E3 is still ahead, so the verdict is still out -- even if the rumor is looking increasingly unlikely.
Dead Wrong: The console's name
Xbox Fusion? Xbox Infinity? All of those were way off. Microsoft introduced the console as the "Xbox One." The closest guess we heard was simply "Xbox," because we can't imagine people will get into the habit of nicknaming this console "the One."
Steve Watts posted a new article, Xbox rumors: confirmations and open questions.
Microsoft finally took the wraps off its next console today, the Xbox One. We take a look back at some of the rumors to determine which ones came true, which ones didn't, and which we still just don't know about.
"Unresolved: Always-on Internet not required," That statement is most definitely resolved. Any game that uses the MS Azure cloud must always be connected to the internet. There's really no other way to think about it no matter how much PR you spin.
I bet you that the voice commands use an internet connection as well. Just like Siri and Google Search.
I want to see someone do a "zero connectivity test" for all of this generation's consoles, to demonstrate how possible it is to play a game on a console without having a connection.
So far, the Wii U passes. Aside from having to download a 5 GB system patch, of course, but that's on Nintendo. That will be baked into a retail SKU at some point, and frankly, the games that will most likely make it worthwhile to get a Wii U are still out in the future (Wonderful 101, hopefully Bayonetta 2, and perhaps some genuinely good Nintendo games).
With the answers Microsoft has given, the XBox One fails. It requires a login at least once every 24 hours, and an XBox Live account is used to authenticate games, which must be installed on the hard drive.
PS4? We'll see. Yoshida-san told Eurogamer "you can go offline totally" ( http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-02-21-the-big-interview-sonys-shuhei-yoshida-on-ps4 ), but the real test is a zero connectivity test.
I have to say that the position of Microsoft staff (particularly Don Mattrick's "This is the world we live in" comment, best imagined alongside the Genesis song "Land of Confusion") has been antagonistic to downright hostile. They're projecting that the "offline gamer" doesn't even exist on the earth, when there are numerous scenarios:
- The soldier stationed on a base. Sailor of Fortune covered this very well in this post: http://www.shacknews.com/chatty?id=30195579#item_30195579
- Fighting game tournament participant signing up for something like Evo ( http://evo.shoryuken.com ), updating his console to the required level, then packing it up and flying out to some hotel with shitty sketchy Internet, and the 3G / 4G / LTE is smashed to hell, as is the case with most conventions.
- Someone who just moved, and the ISP installation is a week (or more) out. Cable / satellite isn't installed, so what better to do than plug the TV into a power outlet, hook up a console to a video port, and fire up a single-player game... oh wait, there's no Internet.
It's Sony's move. Culturally, Japan has been less trusting of online services, so that may have shaped their strategy, alongside things like Evo, and the PSN outage of 2011. Don't forget that Microsoft's Azure cloud computing service has had a few notable large-scale outages; Microsoft better make sure that the new XBox One authentication infrastructure is reliable enough to not exceed 24 straight hours of authentication unavailability.
Do you really think billion dollar organizations aren't aware of connectivity scenarios like this and the prevalence of them?
Nintendo's offline story is only the case because they don't know what to do with the internet, not because they have serious concern for offline scenarios.
is there a razor that covers when the average person thinks that with 5 minutes of thought they have done better market analysis and scenario building than a billion dollar corporation and high level industry veterans with massive successes on their resume because those entities are just stupid despite their positions?
Revolutions in entertainment don't come by force. They are consumer driven. When Apple reinvented the phone and tablet, it hadn't a clue that everyone wouldn't be able to put these devices down when watching live TV. When Microsoft released its Xbox 360, it had no idea how many gamers wanted to put the games away and fire up Netflix.
These systems are exceptional success stories because of the speed and mastery in riding that wave of consumer demand. The Xbox One wants to swim against it. It wants to define habits. It wants to spread Skype and Internet Explorer across the household, and not because the world is crying out for it, but because Microsoft doesn't own Twitter or Facebook or Chrome or Firefox or BBM or WhatsApp or Netflix or YouTube or Spotify or Hulu or Google or Apple.
As an industry analyst, it sometimes feels like I am flitting between two parallel universes. In one, I sit in rooms with IT marketing professionals and product managers and listen to them talking about how the latest "big thing" is changing everything. In the other, I chat with IT directors and ops managers who want to see small changes that make their businesses more efficient or profitable.
In the marketing universe, the statements made are always in the present tense, always talk about huge sweeping disruption, and usually revolve around one of the many currently hot buzzwords or phrases... Then I move to the other universe and find myself sitting around tables with groups of IT directors, operations managers, architects and others involved in implementing or running IT in a mainstream business environment.
When the conversation turns to one the latest "big things" in this context, the language used is generally in the future real conditional (condition clause + result clause), and I hear way more questions than definitive statements.
What the fuck kind of analysis is this?
It's as if Microsoft cannot comprehend that its entire market already has phones and qwerty internet browsers at their thumbs when watching re-runs of Friends.
You mean the platform agnostic SmartGlass apps that allow you to interact with and control your Xbox from an iPhone/iPad or Android device?
It's as though Microsoft has wilfully ignored that Siri and other voice command gimmicks, and QR codes and other camera-based technologies, have flat-lined despite their comprehensive promotion.
What about the original Kinect flat lined exactly? It was a massive sales success. I didn't realize Apple has backed off Siri and gave up on it. And Google Now's voice search? Google just added voice search to Chrome. Maybe he's noticed all this Google Glass hype, how exactly is that controlled again?
Revolutions in entertainment don't come by force. They are consumer driven. When Apple reinvented the phone and tablet, it hadn't a clue that everyone wouldn't be able to put these devices down when watching live TV.
Really? The iPhone was not a revolution by force? What exactly was it then? It was Apple telling you 'we rethought the smartphone for you, here it is, be amazed.' They built a portable computer in a phone with tons of multi purpose apps, why the hell wouldn't they have thought you'd be unable to put it down? That was exactly their hope with the device.
These systems are exceptional success stories because of the speed and mastery in riding that wave of consumer demand
Yep, the massive consumer smartphone market and the massive tablet market. Apple was wise to finally get on top of those trends and find a successful product to fit in there. Thank god Amazon figured out that I wanted a digital reading device too. They finally realized that it's not products that are innovation, I am innovation, you just have to try to keep up with me!
The Xbox One wants to swim against it. It wants to define habits.
Yep, the Xbox has forced everyone to start using Netflix and Hulu and Xbox Video for more hours than they spend gaming on their Xbox. We poor consumers are desperately trying to break free of Microsoft's death grip on our habits. Personally, I'm sick of it. I'm gonna go buy an AppleTV and stream Netflix there because they get me!
By contrast, the games showcase at Microsoft's Xbox One reveal was so pedestrian, so out of touch with what the core market desires, that it has been lost among the noise of more controversial issues.
I mean seriously, Call of Duty? Who plays that anymore? No self respecting gamer plays Call of Duty. And Madden? FIFA? We're talking about niche, jock products. Forza? Uh, I don't care about cars, show me the JRPGs! I want games for gamers because I am gamer game game game game.
If Gabe Newell wasn't laughing / crying at the end of the showcase, there's no doubt he was in hysterics / grieving when it emerged that Microsoft is also attempting take some control over the pre-owned market via an Orwellian system that will be as popular as mandatory ID cards.
Indeed, Gabe probably was laughing at how his own platform does exactly the same thing and engenders massive amounts of goodwill instead of fear.
Only the games can save it from the same fate as Wii U.
hm... if you say so...
Microsoft has fifteen exclusives, eight new IPs and one E3 press event, to turn this around.
I don't know what your second link has to do with any of this. It's the same old problem MS always has to deal with, catering to the highly different needs of enterprises vs consumers. The former find 3 year OS upgrades already too fast, while consumers expect meaningful upgrades yearly and at minimal to no cost. I'm not sure what that has to do with an entertainment device and games console.
Sinofsky's charge with Windows 8 and Windows RT was disruption. Skateboard-wheeled, Start-Menu-shredding disruption. It did not succeed, and the marketing strategy was derided as too abrasive, and too insensitive to power users.
One year later, Don Mattrick uses the same trick.
so why is the mainstream press coverage of this announcement so positive?
television television sports call of duty.
so your thesis is:
Win8 had the wrong strategy and marketing, that's why its reception was poor.
Xbox used the same strategy and marketing, and its reception was good, which is proof that the strategy and marketing scheme is a mistake in general.
I'm not sure what you think you're proving.
Newer Wii U's are pre-patched.
you can use kinect commands now without search. i think with all the virtual machine shit they're talking about and fast switches back and forth between different things due to the use of multiple virtual machines running things, you're going to end up with 2 experiences. the neutered disconnected experience and the full featured connected experience. personally i don't care because i have internet wherever i go and can't remember the last time my internet was out and it wasn't related to the power in the building being out.
also i believe sony mentioned some similar cloud computing stuff that will also require an internet connection.
should have gone with Xbox Infinity it follows the same idea of its an everything in one box, but is a much cooler name that doesn't get confused with the original xbox. plus after Xbox Infinity they could do Xbox Prime which is a damn cool name.
I'm just going with "the fucking Xbox"
The new xbox is how everyone will refer to it.
i don't really think it will matter and nobody is going to get confused with an original xbox that not many people ever owned and is not still on store shelves for grandma to buy the wrong one at christmas for little billy.