It’s been two days since Microsoft unveiled their next-gen gaming console, the Xbox One, and the press hasn’t exactly been great. Despite a list of impressive and innovative features, fans and pundits alike have found plenty to criticize. A recent IGN poll has shown that almost 75% of surveyed gamers were disappointed with the headlining event. From the lack of backwards compatibility to a shortage of announced games, Microsoft has done little to quell the fears of its most avid followers. Wondering why the entire gaming industry seems to be up in arms? Here’s a list of the Xbox One’s absolute worst features and inclusions:
1. Mandatory Game Installation
Just as we guessed, the Xbox One will require players to fully install every title they use on the console. This is partially due to the Blu-ray technology used for next-generation games, but will surely be frustrating to more impatient folks. The device comes standard with a sizable 500 GB hard drive, but it’s unclear how many next-gen games will fit within that capacity.
2. Doesn’t Work Without Kinect
Harvey Eagle, Xbox’s UK Marketing Director, has stated that Kinect must be attached to the console at all times. This assertion has since been echoed elsewhere, including in a post on Microsoft’s own Xbox One FAQ page:
[quote]“The all new Kinect is now an essential and integrated part of the platform. By having it as a consistent part of every Xbox One, game and entertainment creators can build experiences that assume the availability of voice, gesture and natural sensing, leading to unrivaled ease of use, premium experiences and interactivity for you,” [/quote]
3. Internet Connection Required
There’s been a lot of confusion regarding the console’s online requirements. Must it always be online? No, but it does require a connection. Unfortunately, the device will need to connect to the web pretty frequently to let you play games, listen to music, catch up on shows, or do anything else. According to Microsoft’s Phil Harrison, it will need to do so approximately once a day, and perhaps even more so if you’re using features that are tied heavily to the system’s various cloud settings. The worst part is, if you’re in an area without a viable internet connection (like an army base or a rural state), you flat out won’t be able to use the console.
4. No Self-Publishing For Indie Devs
This is one of the most egregious decisions Microsoft has made to date. Put bluntly, the Xbox One is indie-proof. The company has prevented self-publishing, which means independent studios will have to go through a costly publisher if they’re looking to get their work on the marketplace. This is pretty tactless, as many exceptional current-gen titles (including Limbo, Monaco, Fez, Splosion Man, The Walking Dead, Braid, and Shadow Complex) have found their home on the console’s Xbox Live Arcade. It’s hard to believe Microsoft would be willing to make such a bold and sweeping move, especially in the wake of this year’s indie-heavy Game Developer’s Conference.
5. Hard Drive Can’t Be Replaced
You heard that right. Not only must all games me installed on the system’s mid-size 500 GB storage solution, but that same hard drive is actually as irreplaceable as Jay-Z’s wife. Here’s the silver lining, courtesy of Geek.com:
[quote]On the back of the Xbox One there is a USB 3.0 port which Microsoft says you can plug an external hard drive into. The console will allow you to store anything on an external drive that can be stored on the internal drive, so it’s basically an extension of it. That means you will be able to add terabytes of extra storage to the machine if you need it.
It seems likely that an external hard drive will be necessary if Xbox One becomes your main game playing and entertainment console. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft roll out its own Xbox One-branded external hard drive, although it will no doubt carry a premium over other external drives.[/quote]
6. Restricted Game Sharing
The used game market will never be the same. The Xbox One allows players to share games, but with less freedom than they’d probably prefer. IGN has the full scoop:
[quote]In a blog post, Major Nelson has some good news. “Should you choose to play your game at your friend’s house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile,” Nelson wrote. The blog post also mentioned that customers will be able to trade and sell their used games at retail outlets.
However, Microsoft executive Phil Harrison, in an interview with Kotaku, has some potentially bad news. The aforementioned ‘fee’ to play games on a second account? Full MSRP. So if you want to play your game on another system, you’ll be dishing out an extra $40, $50, $60 – unless you’re logged into your main account. (Parental controls will allow you to grant access to other accounts on the same hardware.) Harrison did tell Kotaku that his company plans to allow gamers to ‘trade’ their used games online somehow – though declined to get into further details.[/quote]
7. No Backwards Compatibility
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Marc Whitten, VP of Xbox Live, has offered this statement:
[quote]“The system is based on a different core architecture, so back-compat doesn’t really work from that perspective,” [/quote]
This means your entire library of Xbox 360, Xbox Original, and even Xbox Live Arcade games won’t be making the journey to the next-gen. Better play them now while you still can.
8. Xbox Live Is Still Premium
While the PSN remains a free service for in-game multiplayer, Microsoft’s Xbox Live service isn’t changing all that much. You’ll still have to pay a monthly fee to access content like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and even in-game multiplayer. At the current moment, we’re not sure how much a new Xbox Live subscription will cost, but it would be surprising if the per-month fee jumped any higher than the current model.
The head of Xbox’s European division issued this remark regarding the decision:
[quote]“Yes, we still see that as a chargeable service… I think that people understand that for a premium service that gives access to so many different rich parts of entertainment. Our consumers are happy and I think we represent great value there actually. If you look at the plethora of things available now through Xbox Live, particularly the Gold service and what we put behind Gold, we’ve got no plans to change that.”[/quote]
So there you have it: the future of entertainment. Microsoft’s gonna have to pull off an insanely impressive E3 conference if they want to make up for the terrible reactions that many consumers are having to the latest announcement. It was reported that Sony’s stock has jumped up a quite a bit in the aftermath of Tuesday’s reveal, and honestly, that’s somewhat inevitable. As it currently stands, the PS4 is looking to be a much stronger choice for the dedicated gamer.
Boston-based writer, artist, designer, critic, loser & storyteller. Focused on the intersection of games, culture, narrative, and art. KillerStrokes on XBL, Steam, PSN. @Wherbit on Twitter. http://willpowerarts.com/