As a long time gamer I have been genuinely excited for all the long overdue next gen announcements. It has felt like this generation has gone on forever, although the games themselves have continued to be fantastic, especially now that all the developers have learned the ins and outs of the current gen hardware.
I’ll admit that it took me an awfully long time to forgive Sony for what they did to Sega (I know, not Sony’s fault, but I was a teenager at the time and therefore not a slave to logic) That really only left me two choices for which console to buy and unfortunately the Wii just didn’t cut it, so I have been an Xbox fan since the very first Xbox. I’m now on my fifth Xbox 360 (don’t laugh they didn’t all RROD, only two of them did, the others were because I moved countries!) I have a giant stack of 360 games, at least twenty of which I haven’t even played yet. I guess what I am saying is, I consider myself a ‘core’ fan. Why is it then that I wasn’t excited by today’s Xbox One announcement?
I’ll start with the name. I’m not a fan of it. It sounds like something a focus group came up with. I know what they are getting at, that it is your one stop shop for all things entertainment, but to me that just dilutes what I am buying it for. It also doesn’t lend itself to any kind of abbreviation, unless you go with XO which is very Gossip Girl. How are you supposed to refer to it in conversation? You wanna come over and play some One? You want a go on my One? The whole thing just sounds awkward. I guess the expectation is we all just switch back to using Xbox to describe it. Anyway, enough about the name, it’s not important, but it’s not a great start.
Next off is the hardware itself. As an author I’m all about not judging a book by its cover. The problem is that in the real world people do. If I am paying several hundred dollars for a piece of high-end electronics, I want it to look like it has been pulled from the future, or from an alien space ship. I want to display it proudly in my living room, beneath my sexily designed flat screen. I at least want to believe that a person or people was paid to think about how it looks. Apple understands this concept, that customers will pay a premium for good looking products. If the PS4 has even a hint of design then that’s the console that is going to be out on show in my living room. The XO will be tucked away in a cupboard somewhere, like the ugly sibling that may be much smarter and funnier, but is just too damn fugly to be seen with in public. Seriously, it looks as if a cheap knock-off DVD player and a satellite box had a baby.
I’m not done complaining. I’m sorry, I know this is coming across as a total fan-boy rant against a system that won’t be out for months, but I just can’t help it. When Sony announced the PS4 they focused on games. The additional functions that they discussed today were extensions of games, the ability to record and share game footage and so on. Today Microsoft spent almost half their announcement talking about TV. I’m not sure who they think is the target audience? I am hardly ‘young’ but as someone remotely tech savvy I gave up my TV subscription long ago. Not once did I think, “You know what would make me continue paying through the arse for a service that is 99% filled with shows I don’t want to watch? Being able to wave at my TV! If only I could yell at it to find me an episode of the Bachelor!” I know there will be streaming video, and I will certainly watch the Halo TV show, but this whole ‘conquer the living room’ concept really doesn’t appeal to me. I’m sure there’s plenty of people it does appeal to, students who just want to lug one box around or people who want to consolidate several devices into one, but if that was the goal why not make it backwards compatible?
Ok, enough whinging, what about the good stuff? Well the games look very exciting, and I am pleased to hear that there will be lots of exclusives. The controller also looks nice if not that different, although it really depends what it is like to hold. As someone who lives abroad I am also excited to be able to Skype on my TV, I chat with my parents every week on my iPad and it will be really nice to be able to sit in my living room and see them in high def on the big screen. The new Kinect also sounds interesting, if not a little too Skynet for my liking. I’m hoping it can see my pulse to help it with fitness games and not to ensure the Kinect controlled drone army has properly finished me off. There’s also great potential for Smart Glass and it’s nice to think that MS won’t restrict us to using a Windows tablet. There are certainly promising seeds buried amongst the compost of feature bloat.
Even with this complaining, I will still almost certainly buy it as soon as it is available, because smart people will find a way to make awesome games on it, and really that’s all I really want.