Hey DudeBro, you like sports? Have we got a console for you!
Being a gamer since the NES days, I've never minded the marketing of a console to people outside of the sphere of traditional hardcore gamers. Back in the days when Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was the only game in the series, I thought that it could only be a good thing that gaming is becoming accessible to other demographics so that more and more people can get into the fun of video games.
After watching the Xbox One reveal, it seems like the hardcore gamer has officially been left behind once and for all by Microsoft in favor of pandering to American DudeBros. If you watched the reveal, then you'll notice something rather interesting about the reveal of this game console. It doesn't have any games. Seriously. We were given a teaser trailer for a Remedy game that had a pre-rendered boat crashing into a bridge. We saw glimpses of a new Forza game that doesn't look any better than the ones on the Xbox 360. Finally, we caught a glimpse of the tech behind the new Call of Duty game that certainly looks pretty and will be available on roughly a half dozen other platforms. The closest thing Microsoft did to appeal to the hard core gamers that comprised the foundation of their game console empire was a controller with vibrating triggers. Seems very comfortable and well designed, but I've also never said to myself, "I would be so much more immersed in this game if only the right trigger vibrated instead of the whole controller."
So what does Microsoft have up their sleeve to sell you an Xbox One? Sports, sports, SPORTS!! Don't get me wrong, sports can be fun in almost any capacity, whether its watching on TV, playing in real life, or playing in video game form. Heck, I'm a pretty hardcore hockey fan and casual follower of major league baseball myself. I get it. However, this is just nutty. Now you can alter what sports you're watching with your voice? You can keep an eye on your fantasy team while jumping between sports games? Who cares about any of this stuff? Are attention spans so low and the need for gimmicky technology so high that we need the ability to jump between live sports events and TV shows with the power of our voice? While getting intrusive Skype calls? What ever happened to just getting the guys together for some beers and watching the game, you know, together? I think basing the majority of their press conference around what the Xbox One can do with live television is a big mistake on Microsoft's part.
Then again, just naming it Xbox One feels like a step backwards. Putting aside the fact that One is only 359 less than 360, millions of people already own an Xbox One. I do, I played Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic, Crimson Skies, and Halo 2 on it in university and college. Is that really the best name they could come up with?
It also doesn't help Microsoft's case for you to buy an Xbox One if you don't live in the United States. Subscription services like those for ESPN and the NFL are only of concern and probably only going to be available in that country. Take it from a Canadian with a gimped Netflix account simply because I live an hour north of the border in Toronto, any non American Xbox One purchasers will end up with a more limited experience than our non-American counterparts. With all these partnerships that Microsoft is putting together for the services, it's probably pretty safe to assume that the cost of Xbox Live isn't going anywhere, and could very well go up, especially after having more servers "than the entire computational power in the world in 1999."
If television and live sports aren't floating your boat, don't you worry, because EA Sports is here to bring you more SPORTS in video game form. The glimpses of the games don't really look noticeably better than their current generation counterparts, but when you've got Robert Griffin III and Lionel Messi talking about it, that sure lends a lot of gamer credibility to the proceedings. *(sarcasm)*
Then we go back and talk about more television options and the fact that Steven Spielberg is involved with a Halo television series. Nice sentiment and announcement to make, but also has nothing to do with the console that they're revealing.
There are some nice steps that Microsoft took with the reveal of Xbox One, like the sleek design of the system, an improved controller, improved Kinect functionality (if you're into that sort of thing), and some impressive specs on a technical level.
On the other hand...
They didn't confirm or deny that the system will block used games and require an online connection to activate titles the first time, even though it was confirmed after the show that the console will work without an active connection. I don't know about you, but I don't want an always on camera and microphone pointed at me at all times while connected to a device that is always connected to the internet, even if it doesn't technically require the connection. Since the system won't function without the Kinect attachment at all, this brings up serious security issues if Microsoft experiences a hackjob like Sony did last year with the PlayStation Network. Also, it's been all but confirmed that playing used discs on another console will require fees to activate the game, which simply a shameless money grab by a giant corporation that simply wants to eliminate the second hand market entirely. At any rate, no news is very, very bad news when it comes to this issue, and Microsoft is taking an appropriate beating in social media for these decisions that seem more and more likely to be on the way.
If I had to use one word to describe the Xbox One launch, it would easily be "underwhelming." Xbox One seems like a good system with good ideas, saddled down by trying to be a Jack of all Trades box with so much gimmicky and pointless functionality. The only problem is, hardcore gamers aren't the target market for Xbox anymore. I personally feel left behind by the Xbox brand after watching the reveal, because this console has nothing to offer me that I care to do (live television and multi-tasking entertainment and communications) or that I can't already do between my PC and existing consoles. In all my years of being a gamer and part of the gaming industry as a whole, this is truly the first time that I just don't care about a major new console release.
But don't worry about it DudeBro, we've got sports and Call of Duty for you. Step right up.