I’m not going to even bother writing about the Microsoft Xbox One event. Chances are, you watched the stream, you’ve read several internet articles, and probably stood your ground in the comments section when it came to defending or trashing the Xbox One. Nevertheless, both Sony and Microsoft have announced their consoles, thus opening the door for 6 months of speculation and conversation. Yet there is something that I find very interesting about the Xbox One. It’s a console with similar specs to its rival, the Playstation 4, but it’s also a console that is heading in a completely different direction.
Microsoft has been making a huge push on taking over the living room and they just might do that with the Xbox One. Today, Microsoft announced an exclusive partnership with NFL and also showed off some very impressive Kinect TV functions such as the ability to switch between cable TV, what you’re playing, and even check your fantasy sports league. While I do enjoy playing fantasy football, I also enjoy playing games on my console.
I spent the past 3 years hosting “The Xbox Achievers Podcast” which later morphed into “Our Xbox World”. During the transition from The Xbox Achievers to Our Xbox World, I was pretty down on the Xbox. I didn’t like how Xbox was pouring their assets into making their own version of the Wii, the Kinect. In fact, I really never cared for any of the movie stuff like Netflix, HBO GO, or even Hulu largely in part because I don’t watch a lot of movies to begin with. But does that make the Xbox a bad console because they want to focus on areas that I personally don’t care about? Of course not! I never hated Microsoft for focusing on “Living Room Domination” or trying to attract the family market with Kinect. It’s actually quite genius on their behalf. It allows them to attract a wider variety of audiences when it comes to their console. I still played their games and loved their exclusives, but I found myself less committed to the Xbox brand because there was so much that I wasn’t interested in and lack of first party titles wasn’t helping the cause either.
I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for Playstation. The Playstation (1,2, and 3) have always been geared towards the hardcore gamer and it’s no different this time around with the Playstation 4. While Microsoft spent part of their Xbox event showcasing the Xbox One’s media functions, Sony spent theirs showing off titles such as Killzone Shadow Fall and Infamous Second Son. We learned back on February 20th that the Playstation 4 was going to be a console geared towards the hardcore market. We saw Sony roll out with exclusive partnerships of their own with Blizzard and Bungie, who will bring exclusive Destiny content to the Playstation. We also learned during GDC, that indie developers chose the PS3, PS4, and PS Vita as platforms they’d like to release their games on. Sony has also made the submission process much easier for all developers to put their games on Sony’s platform. Factor in all of the Gaiki streaming features and you have yourself one sexy console for the hardcore gamer.
So does that mean that the hardcore gamer won’t want an Xbox One?
While Microsoft has made a huge push on the entertainment front, let’s not forget that their console also plays games. In fact, they have one of the most iconic video game franchises in Halo as well as a partnership with one of the most successful video game franchises, Call of Duty. At the Xbox One announcement, Phil Spencer announced the Xbox One would receive 15 exclusive games in its first year. The Xbox One is not only a gaming console, but an entertainment box for your living room. The Xbox One may sacrifice a bit on the gaming front, but will up for it on the entertainment front. While I don’t really watch too many movies, the NFL partnership really intrigues me. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why I’m interested in the Xbox One. Sure I love Halo, Gears, Fable, and Forza, but I also love my Miami Dolphins. If Microsoft grants me the ability to combine those loves into one box, then that is enough to sell me on the console. Yes, there will be plenty of people like me who will purchase the Xbox for its entertainment purposes and exclusives alone.
At the end of the day, we still know very little about both consoles. In fact, it is very hard to determine who the clear cut winner is if there really is one. Both Microsoft and Sony will be doing great things with their consoles. While both consoles have similar specs and will presumably have similar titles, both consoles appear to be focused in different areas. Sony is putting all of their chips in on the hardcore gamer who spends hundreds of dollars each year on gaming, while Microsoft wants to be the centerpiece of your living room. While I am a strong believer that Microsoft’s Xbox will one day replace the cable box, I also believe that several Xbox One consoles will be sharing a stand with Sony’s Playstation 4. While most gamers will probably not purchase both consoles from the start, both Microsoft and Sony are doing enough to warrant a purchase at some point thus allowing them to co-exist in the same living room.
While we don’t know a specific release date or price, we do know that it will be a very expensive holiday season for many gamers.
For more information about the Xbox One, listen to Episode 23 of the Chomp on this Gaming podcast later this week as Zack, Gary, Kavan, and Darryl give their thoughts on the event.