You Are an Xbox Fan, Why Write This?
Through-and-through I am a Xbox fan. I own an Xbox 360, I have an Xbox One, and I even plan on replacing my android phone with a Windows phone, but that is just the fan boy in me. Though, I want people to be well informed what they are getting into when they buy an Xbox One and why currently I consider it to be a leap of faith.
New Microsoft CEO to Sell-Off Xbox Division?
For those of you who do not know, Satya Nadella was appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft in February since former CEO Steve Ballmer stepped down. However, with this comes the bad news that he is possibly selling off the Xbox Division (Along with Bing and Surface) due to very influential investors thinking that they are dead weight and holding the company back. This is likely because the infrastructure of Microsoft is built around the production, selling, and leasing of its software (more-or-less). With Nadella being the brains behind the Cloud Computing initiative at Microsoft and him wanting to speed the company up, of course hardware will not as important of a role and Xbox would be first to go.
A lot of people are speculating that Amazon are wanting to get into the gaming business (Amazon did acquire Double Helix Games recently, the company responsible for developing the new Strider by Capcom for Xbox One, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3; along with the new Killer Instinct on the Xbox One), so they are likely to buy the Xbox if Nadella is keen on actually selling it off. However, a lot of people also believe that Sony may buy it in order to merge Xbox and Playstation fans together, this may just cause a massive monopoly and give them undeniable control over the console gaming market.
However, this is nothing but speculation at the moment as he personally has not really said anything in regards to selling it off yet. Xbox One did just launch and they did just buy the rights to Gears of War from Epic Games; it is feasible that they may hang onto it for a while to let customers know they did not buy a product in vein (As turning it over to anyone else could have random differing results). Though, the fact that it could even happen, just this unsure feeling of Microsoft having faith in its own product is enough for the sensible consumer to turn scratch their heads and wonder exactly how much dedication will be placed into the longevity of the system. How many resources would you expend on a product which you would deem a “failure”? Not much, and that is never good.
Making the Xbox relevant in territories other than “Tier One” countries is absolutely paramount, focus needs to be on perfectly their approach to different demographics and marketing the Xbox One appropriately to do well in each individual region. Success in majority of the regions could convince Nadella that Xbox is worth salvaging and building rather than scrapping and selling it off to the highest bidder (If it comes down to that).
Even more than this, however, I feel like Microsoft particularly needs to be successful in Japan to really survive this generation; other regions will come later but I feel that garnering the support of the masses and game developers who dwell within the Land of the Rising Sun is vital (Not to mention I love my anime-style games and we do not get enough of them in United States, sadly). I already talked about how Playstation 4 will probably become the choice system for fighting-game fans, you cannot argue that it is also the console choice for Japanese-style Role-Playing Games. In fact, most Japanese people will want to support the home team, and Xbox 360 was completely irrelevant in Japan for the last few years (Which is why Playstation 4 has so many exclusives over there), it was so undermined by japanese gamers that stores stopped selling it.
Nintendo is the main reason we have a console gaming market here in America, successful launching of the Famicon (Nintendo Entertainment System) paved the way for today’s modern consoles. For a good while we only had Japanese consoles to play, the popular ones coming from Nintendo, Playstation, and Sega. Microsoft snuck in with the original Xbox and shot to the forefront with the Xbox 360, but they failed to secure footing in the region that enabled us to even have console wars. Despite just now (Some days ago) listing Xbox One on the Japanese’ Amazon website, it should have been made a priority to launch alongside the U.S. countries and should have been considered a “Tier One” release. A lot of the most creative games come from Japan, as well as some of the more popular niche genres; it would be a shame if we are unable to experience them this time around as well.
You know, a lot of people were saying, “They really should have just called the system Xbox 720, haha”…that is not good. As you can see from the comparison video above comparing the different versions of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, it shows the very real difference between this gen and last gen, but the main highlight is the difference between the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both run the game at 720p resolution at 30 fps (Frames-Per-Second) while the Xbox One runs the game at 720p resolution at 60 fps compared to the Playstation 4’s 1080p at 60 fps….this is not good, especially when there was a rumor going around that the Xbox One was going to be able to upscale 1080p to 4K resolution (Lol).
Looking at the trailer, Playstation 4 makes it feel like they have a massive gap in their graphical ability since the Xbox One version looks nearly identical to that of last gen’s….and that is not something you want to see compared to its competitor’s better resolution at a $100 cheaper price tag. The problem is that the Xbox One runs at a native resolution of 720p and has the ability to upscale to 1080p (Think Forza 5, but even that was downgraded), though the Playstation 4’s native resolution is 1080p, that is a big difference. You see, even if Xbox One upscales to 1080p, it will not look good as a NATIVE resolution, this is pretty bad as Xbox 360 was graphically inferior to the Playstation 3 (Just look at Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots). Even if it is technically one resolution milestone up, the difference between 720p and 1080p is made painstakingly clear in that comparison video, undeniable differences between this gen and last gen.
I think every gamer can agree that gameplay before graphics is the golden rule, there are still many games of old that outdo today’s games without the technology to make fancy 3D graphics and advance textures, but that is only acceptable because it was the very best it could do back then, not now. Paying $500 for a system that cannot do what a $400 system does is terrible, gamers everywhere are going to be angry, especially when Titanfall, the current premiere title for the Xbox One…only runs at 720p (Though in the beta they got it up to 792p and it is possible to ship at 900p, that is still not 1080p). Honestly, Microsoft should have thought things through when developing the Xbox One and made graphically capability a higher priority than TV and Cable integration. When it comes between me being able to switch my TV at the drop of a hat or better graphics, I would simply say graphics. If it came down to me being able to use my motion sensor, voice activated Kinect to swap between games and turn on my Xbox or better graphics….I am going to go with graphics again. Like I said before, all of this extra stuff is just icing on the cake but you need to have a delicious base before you start adding the premium frosting or the whole thing just goes to hell.
Microsoft is going to have to figure out someway to get over its ESRAM issue, otherwise we will see one console cleanly winning, the Playstation 4. I honestly have no idea why Microsoft did not decide on a clean overhaul of the Xbox One and really pushed it so that it could get the graphics everyone were so desperately hoping it had, even at a loss. I find that they spent too much money on the wrong things and/or rushed the console due to Playstation 4 revealing itself earlier than it said it would. All-in-all, this one issue could prove to be something Microsoft wished it had addressed earlier in development once developers began to show dismay.
Desperately Clinging to Titanfall
|Titanfall Bundle pack; Xbox One, Titanfall, and 1 Month of Xbox Live Gold for $500.|
There are many big hit games coming out that we know already; Batman: Arkham Knight, Destiny, The Division, Halo 5, even Watch Dogs, but all the rage right now is about Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall. This is currently the MUST HAVE game for next gen, and it is only available for PC and Xbox One. The allure of a next generation shooter that is so different from what we are use to is an idea a lot of people can get behind, and undoubtedly Microsoft is hoping that it has enough weight to sell consoles by itself.
You can tell Microsoft is really hoping that Titanfall will sell based on how they are offering the current bundle pack. Normally when you buy an Xbox One you get the console, Kinect 2.0, and a chat headset; but in the Titanfall bundle they throw in the Titanfall game ($60), Chat Headset ($25), and one month of Xbox Live Gold (About $10), essentially giving you $95 worth of goodies for FREE. They want everyone to be able to enjoy their current most anticipated game straight out of the box and give them one month to get hooked on it so they can buy a year of Gold; essentially forcing them to pay attention and hopefully delve into other games and becoming a lasting member.
Personally, I think this is not a bad idea at all, but it feels as though they are spitting in the face of early Xbox One adopters, “You waited to buy our console? Here is a free game at no extra charge! Ah, you bought our console on day one? Hope you are reserving Titanfall to get $10 of credit for free!”, it is not the same thing. Like I said, it is great to pull in new buyers but you do not want to make loyal customers feel like fools for sticking it with you; however, you could say that people who adopt a console from day one are paying a “premium” Not to mention I just bought the $600 bundle which includes a 3-year warranty, two controllers, and a play-n-charge kit; however I feel as though they should have thrown in Titanfall since they are doing it with the new Xbox One’s anyway.
In addition to some of the “Day One” owners feeling like they got screwed, this shows people that maybe the Xbox One is not living up to the expectations that they hoped so the only way to stay relevant is to place all bets on Titanfall…which is not a good look. I honestly think they should have went with the custom Xbox One, a Titanfall Limited Edition Controller, Titanfall game, a headset, and a month of Xbox Live Gold for $600…or at least $550; that would have been reasonable but oh well, too late to really do anything about it now.
What Microsoft Needs To Do
What Microsoft needs to do in order to save the Xbox One early in this stage of the game is by dropping more exclusive games (Original I.P.’s and Franchise), find a way to make the Kinect marketable to average gamers to make the price-point relevant, and focusing on more game-oriented services to justify the price of Xbox Live compared to Playstation Plus.
Exclusives like Forza 5, Killer Instinct, and Titanfall; huge games that cause gamers to salivate need to be more in abundance. While everyone may hate that Titanfall is not going to be at 1080p (Most likely), it runs at 0p on a Playstation 4 because it is non-existent (Though it is on PC and running at higher resolution, Microsoft should have not gave them the option of having it to further increase sales). Incredible games that are only available for the Xbox One will prompt more people to buy the console because people do truly enjoy great games over graphics when it comes down to it, but if it is available in a better looking form, why not have it? Eliminate 3rd party games as your main focus and build a base of strong exclusives and make them value Xbox One.
The next thing they will need to focus on is making the Kinect marketable to those who have no interest in it, this will make the extra $100 more practical. Sure, I like turning on my system with my voice and simple commands, but that does not make me feel better about $100 for something I would not have bought otherwise (I never did buy a Kinect for the original Xbox). Games with them as their main function does not help me either, since the only dancing game I really liked was Dance Dance Revolution, and even that had a physical controller. Using games with voice interaction like Binary Domain will help, not to mention if they were to make something like a Fight Night where you actually box. Even getting into the niche genre of Japanese Dating Sims and having something like a digital girlfriend (Or boyfriend for you ladies) who you can talk to and interact with would spark a lot of interest in some gamers.
Another thing is more game-oriented services. While “Games with Gold” is still good because you get free games, it is nowhere near Playstation Plus’ (Mainly because of the game selection, while that is a matter of opinion majority rule this in Playstation’s favor). Why not offer somethings for playing Xbox we will not get anywhere else? Such as a gaming show that talks about e-sports and upcoming Xbox releases, or an e-sports tournament showcase..hell, why not have a Xbox Gold Channel and have a variety of different things? Why not offer a free Xbox Live Arcade game or something after every 10,000 gamer score or something? Just anything that makes them feel as though they are getting their money’s worth for being a member, this will keep everyone happy.
Honestly, these are only small suggestions but even the smallest of things can be huge and sway the opinions of everyone involved. Remember, more people considered the Xbox One after they reversed their DRM policies and their “Always On” Kinect stance, more people may consider it at a lower price point.
Not going to lie, I am a bit disheartened after doing this article because I just bought a brand new Xbox One, and it is painfully obvious that Microsoft has some ground to cover it if it is going to compete with the Playstation 4; Weaker resolution, lackluster Games with Gold, poor standing in Japan, and even doubtfulness from investors of Microsoft themselves. Rushing because of the Playstation 4 reveal or ignoring the ESRAM issue mentioned by developers could have lead to critical flaws that are irreversible at this point and time by Microsoft.
I have faith that things will work out for the best because when there is a will, there is a way. I absolutely loved the Xbox 360 because of all the good experiences I have had and all the wonderful people I have gotten to meet, I want that to continue on with the Xbox One…but it seems like that may not be the case in the future if things do not come together for Microsoft, at least, I hope so.