The Xbox One Reveal: 60 Minutes of Silence

Kevin ruminates on whether Microsoft actually revealed anything surprising when announcing the Xbox One.

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The most remarkable aspect of Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal was how utterly unremarkable it was. It was a predictable rundown of Kinect swipe gestures, media partnerships, and interface features, with a few games thrown in to remind us that the Xbox One’s key demographic is young men into sports, cars, and online shooting. There was little I didn’t expect--and it was this predictability that disappointed me most about the console’s reveal. The moment I most hoped for was the one that would surprise me. I craved the unexpected, the game that would make our jaws drop, the announcement that would make it all worthwhile, the feature that would make the Xbox One a sure win. It never came. And suddenly, I feel less optimistic about the future of game consoles than I did before the conference.

That feeling is distinctly different from the one I had following the PlayStation 4 announcement, though Sony hardly announced anything that groundbreaking either. But Sony had diversity: an indie game, a shooter, a platformer, and so forth. It gave me things to look forward to, and a couple of those things, like Media Molecule’s unnamed creation tool, were different enough from what I’ve seen before to convince me that the next generation might indeed have something new to show us. Or at least, if they weren’t new, the experiences were varied. We had a David Cage-penned interactive film and a Jonathan Blow-designed puzzle adventure to anticipate. There were games there for me, and for others too.

In contrast, the Xbox One announcement left me cold. It was carefully calculated to speak to a specific group of people that didn’t include me. Good on Microsoft for knowing its audience. But where does that leave the rest of us? I game because there are so many different interactive experiences. Military bombast is one kind of experience I enjoy, but it’s a common experience and an easy one to rely on in a press conference, like flashy car porn and contact sports. Sony showed car porn and shooting too, but they balanced it with other types of games. What I wouldn’t have given for Gabe Newell to take the stage, or Phil Fish to emerge from the wings. Some humanity and legitimate passion could have inspired my confidence.

Instead, the talking heads went through the usual list of buzzwords, and I grew increasingly despondent. For all the times words like “emotions” and “excitement” were uttered, all I saw was a script being closely followed to the letter. Call of Duty? Check. Forza? Check. FIFA? Check. There was no room for error, and therefore no live gameplay shown on stage. Thus, there was no chance of a standout moment to define the conference, either. When a new Remedy game was announced, I sat up straight, ready for the buzz I get from a new game announcement, but the vague trailer didn’t inspire me, coming as it did after the canned praise touting Remedy as “world-class storytellers.” Microsoft promises an amazing game lineup at E3, but today's announcement set a lackluster tone.

And so Microsoft communicated what they wished: that the Xbox One is (unsurprisingly) meant to be an all-in-one entertainment system that (unsurprisingly) lets you use your hands and voice to manipulate it, and (unsurprisingly) lets you watch ESPN. And it (unsurprisingly) runs Call of Duty, though that would seem to be of secondary importance. This string of announcements might as well have been for an upcoming update to the Xbox 360, though I don’t want to be unfair to the clearly impressive technology.

Ultimately, however, it’s about the games for me, and how the system improves the way I interact with them. The one thing I look forward to in any reveal is the “a-ha” moment where I see something I couldn’t have predicted. I don’t want to see what Microsoft thinks I want to see; I want Microsoft to show me something I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it. With the Xbox One, Microsoft showed us everything they think we want. Perhaps they are right. But when marketing trumps creativity, we get a conference like the Xbox One reveal, which stayed right on message by saying almost nothing we’ve never heard before.

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Written By

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

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Discussion

953 comments
KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

Well, at least the conference was tight at around an hour unlike Sony's which went on for over two hours and felt slow as hell !!!

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

My issue with the Xbox One is that I don't need an entertainment box. I have a PC, I have a DVR, I have an iPhone. I just need my game machine to play games. I don't need that extra stuff. Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be your all-in-one box; your cable service, your DVR, your streaming service, your exercise routine, your best friend, etc, but it doesn't eliminate any of those extra boxes or services. Then the fact that the Xbox One just has 5GB of the 8GB of DDR3 RAM being used for gaming is just a slap in the face to gamers (the other 3GB is strictly for the OS). Especially when the PS4 is allowing developers FULL access to the 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. I like competition, but it is starting to look like the PS4 and PC will be the only true gaming experiences this upcoming generation. I hope I'm wrong, cause competition makes for better games.

Elann2008
Elann2008

I'm not that impressed.  But then again, I wasn't expecting consoles to make a big leap.  These mega companies, publishers will milk the hell out of consoles, only pushing graphics technology and gameplay bit by bit.  We're way behind what we truly can do in this time frame.

santinegrete
santinegrete

I saw the conference fully  and I've found the Xbox One to be an amazing for entertainment, just not the interactive one. You know what it is right MS? Yep, games. Oh, I can play CoD G in other platforms too!

Survorre
Survorre

Thanks Kevin, i remember FFXIV 1.0  review  you did describe the entire game perfectly!.

dbeausoleil57
dbeausoleil57

That shit is WEAK.  Of course MSFT shows off the XBOX with a lame ass COD game.

HardStomp
HardStomp

It hurts to think about, but the global economic situation has made the future of tech much dimmer.  The new generation of consoles are just a shadow of the thrilling bombast pitched back in 2005.  The Xbox One shows exactly what Microsoft is thinking: games consoles are over.  Let's use up the brand to sell movies, music, tablets and phones.

It's the same story everywhere you look.  OLED TVs were coming out in 2006, then compromised into thinner, cheaper LCDs.  Apple came up with tablets, a new form factor to save face while selling $500 computers in lieu of $1500 laptops.  In two years, games will be streaming from a server and the "console" will be just a receiver, free with a 2 year subscription and a lock on all your content.  For better or for worse, everything has and will compromise to be cheaper because no one has the money, and that doesn't look likely to change..  

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Blah blah blah, whine whine whine.

Games will be talked about at E3.

Even Gamespot's writer's are pissing me off about this now.

mcaillou2001
mcaillou2001

i just want to say that this is not the console i was hoping for. I don like "always on", i dont like mandatory Kinect, i dont like that i cant play used games without their "ok", i dont like that i cant play my xbox360 games in it, and i don care about voice recognition and all that stuff that doesnt have anything to do with gaming.

I play videogames since i was little. I have a lot of consoles, boardgames, magic cards, etc. I´m a GAMER. And this is not for me? What the hell is happening?


shadow580
shadow580

I was waiting the whole time for some actual gameplay. Sadly, that never came. Microsoft, I am dissapoint.

nufootballtim
nufootballtim

totally agree with the article. unless you jerk it to NFL fantasy football, there wasn't anything to get excited about. its not worth $400-$600 bones to be able to change the channel with my voice, and honestly, how often does one need to change inputs from movie to live tv in a split second? is it cool? sure. does it change the way i live my life? nope. XONE needs a major comeback at E3 to get in the running for my purchase. 

If the ONE could function as a DVR for liveTV, that would be a game changer for me. I'd buy it for sure. But i don't see that happening. 

mjswooosh
mjswooosh

*Microsoft boardroom a month ago*

Douchebag: Alright guys, here's the deal.  We need to force people to be online AND ban used games.  What do you think?
Voice of Reason: I, uh, I don't think consumers are gonna really accept both of those things.
Douchebag: You may be right.  Lets start by choosing one... We'll flip a coin
Voice of Reason: No-but, that's not what I-
Douchebag: Heads!  Ok, so we ban used games.
Douchebag 2: You know... We could just charge people to play used games.  That would deter them from buying used but still give the bastards  a choice... and then we could make money 2 or 3 times off the same game.
Douchebag: That's Brilliant!  I like the way you  think Douchebag 2.
Voice of Reason: But- wait, uh, that still wouldn't help 3rd-party-
Jackass: Oh and check this!!  If we tell them they only need to check-in online, then we can say that they don't need to ALWAYS be online, and everyone will eat it up like candy.  2 birds with one stone.
Douchebag: YES! *points to Jackass* That's what I'm talking about.  See boys,  that's how you get it done.
Voice of Reason: *facepalm*

NekoSumo
NekoSumo

Congrats to Microsoft for their broader ambitions.  However, this reveal showed them moving in a direction away from me as a gamer.  I believed in and applauded the Xbox and 360 in that they were dedicated to the gamer in a time when other platforms were weakening or spreading themselves too thin.  Maybe i fall into a declining market demographic or this is an opportunity for another player (like Steam) to step up and focus on what some of us really care about.

xboxps2cube
xboxps2cube

its simple. Xbox 360 had a competitive advantage of being to the market first with the first next gen graphics, Xbox live, chat out of the box.  Xbox One does not have these. What we have here is a system that is not good looking, have mandatory features that does not appeal to the broad Xbox audience, allegedly elimination of in store game trades that focus more on entertainment than video games.  This blatant disregard to the customer feels like Sony's arrogance in the initial PS3 Price of $600, but i can guarantee Sony is listening this time around

FiFa_kirikiki
FiFa_kirikiki

Wow Kevin, what a great article—I'm 3400 miles away from you and it feels like you're speaking right in front of me, I can feel your emotion through your words. 

rogue81
rogue81

During the whole conference, no one on stage was genuinely excited about what was going on. No one who spoke actually cared about what was coming out of their mouths. They were just reciting memorized words at the audience, and that annoyed the hell out of me.

Javier
Javier

Generally every E3 is when any major company reveals the games for their systems. MS chose to reveal solely the console less than a month before E3 stating that the games would be shown in said event.

So people can wait for less than 20 dyas to see the games and already start burying the xbox?
Isn't it better that MS got rid of the boring stuff so the E3 keynote can focus solely on the games?


Aphyosemion
Aphyosemion

I was indifferent to them trying to make the Xbox do everything that I already have other devices for.  We buy consoles for the games, after all.  Then the draconian control scheme started to come to light and I began to think, hey, I wonder what PS4 is doing right now.

Uesugi-dono
Uesugi-dono

It must be disheartening; to be so solidly biased in favor of Xbox and to be rewarded with... that.  Condolences,

FenixNoT
FenixNoT

I think the new controller looks pretty cool, even if I don't get the console I'll probably pick one up to use. I'm a PC gamer personally, I own a 360 which I still use to play Halo the odd time but for the most part I find the consoles have very little to offer me anymore. I thought the Xbox One reveal was underwhelming too. They confirmed some rumours, debunked others and didn't show anything which made me go "Wow, that's sweet!", which is the least you want from a dedicated event to reveal a new console. Sony revealed a hell of a lot more and showed a ton of gameplay footage which looked really nice. As far as the consoles go I'm leaning toward Sony and the Playstation with regards to overall appeal of the console. To be honest the only thing that put me off the PS3 was their online service. Yeah it's free, but that's because it quite simply isn't as good. If Sony come out with a better online service then I see no reason for them not to do a lot better than the Xbox this time round.

I also like the new Kinect for skype and stuff but I'm not convinced there's really any potential for innovation in games there, it still just seems like a gimmick.

All in all I agree with this article and I'm gonna continue to play kick ass games on a kick ass PC with kick ass graphics and feel very good about the fact that the graphical fidelity of console games will ALWAYS be less than that of my PC :). Watching the console wars take place in the comments of articles like this never fails to make me smile.

NetGod
NetGod

@HardStomp 

OLED TVs were coming out in 2006? Really? Where can I buy one?

mjswooosh
mjswooosh

@HardStomp Great post. Globalization has been a spectacular success for the top .01% and a spectacular failure for everyone else. The widening wealth gap between the rich/poor, lowered wages, lowered standard of living, disappearing middle class, and rising cost of living are all buzz word/phrases which are sadly the signs of our times.

So, it is a curious time to try to eliminate used games...the one way people of lesser means can afford to get into an expensive hobby like gaming...during such a protracted global economic downturn,. The coneheads at MS are truly clueless, as you can't squeeze blood from a turnip. Eliminating used games does not make poor or struggling middle class people suddenly able or willing to pop $60 per for a bunch of games each month. lol Gotta love the "financial wizards" who make these decisions for the industry, eh?

I wouldn't be surprised if Sony follows suit with similarly golden straight-jacket insanity. And if they do I also won't be surprised if the industry experiences another melt-down similar to the one in the 80s that nearly erased the video-game market. Sadly, with how things are going I feel this may need to happen in order for things to get better in the long run. Like nearly every other industry in America, greed has simply taken over all decision making...and gaming, gamers, and the health of the gaming industry are NOT better for it.

dbeausoleil57
dbeausoleil57

@VenkmanPHD It's a video game console that didn't show off real video games.  Microsoft is just trying to double dip people for services they ALREADY HAVE with the internet connection they ALREADY PAY FOR.  I can get all of the same shit (Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Fantasy Sports) on my PC for FREE.

mjswooosh
mjswooosh

@nufootballtim Exactly. The irony is the One comes off like a "glorified DVR"...but they forgot to add in the DVR part.

brxricano
brxricano

@mjswooosh Its like you were actually there. Damn you and your all access pass.

mjswooosh
mjswooosh

@Javier The console itself shouldn't be boring. But, the One is worse than boring: it's a huge step backwards from the 360 in terms of product design & matching what the console offers to what the market actually wants. The things that stand out about this reveal are the utter confusion and lack of focus...and the restrictive DRM. Not good.

rogue81
rogue81

@Javier So you admit the conference was boring. Did the presentation get you excited for the console at all? Were you impressed with anything they showed you? I'm not excited for the One. I wasn't impressed with anything they showed either. People are so keen to hear about the games because the console itself is such a bore. We're talking about the sleek, powerful next generation of gaming, and Microsoft showed us a family mini-van.

Microsoft would have server their interests better had they waited till E3 to show us the whole package.

IndremaLover
IndremaLover

@Uesugi-dono  

Thanks- I've been solidly biased in favor of my 360 (and rightly so) for many years.

However I cannot see myself purchasing MS's high-end "channel changer". 

duimnuri
duimnuri

@FenixNoT  ofcourse the PC is better and everyone knows that ..since my present pc is not a great one , I made a pc from an online site (I live Turkey by the way) the pc is

- amd fx 8320 cpu (8 cores)

- hd 7970 gpu

-asus mainboard

- 2 tb hdd

- 16 gb of ram

- standard audio card, (creative 5,1), lg bluray, etc


and it costs usd 1400 .just the case there is no monitor for sure...


my point is, you will have kick ass graphics on a kick ass pc with a kick ass price for sure ..it is expensive unfortunately.. and also we know that due to consoles are more profitable for the game makers , they are going to make the games according to consoles as they did for this generation ..and we all know the life span of the present gen.. it was too long ..

mjswooosh
mjswooosh

@NetGod His point is that they were on company road maps at that time. They were being trickled out for high end consumers to test the waters...I remember seeing them on sale for $25K as far back as 2007ish....

HardStomp
HardStomp

@mjswooosh Thanks for the reply.  I've been curious about used games and how people will react to the changes.  It's entirely possible that used games were always on their way out, considering how many gamers have taken to Steam.  I think console makers are expecting the market decline you're talking about but plan to improve their margins in the short term by transitioning everyone to downloadable titles.  That way, the pre-order people who were going to buy at full price regardless will still do so, and then others who buy used nowadays will buy the download for 40% off a month later.  There will still be hard copies of games in the short term, but it sounds like MS's strategy will be to use DRM to eliminate the price advantage between a used disc and a discounted download.  You'll pay $10 or whatever to "renew" your used copy.  When the time is right, MS, EA and Ubi will stop offering discs and there you go, they get to be their own Gamestop, with publisher kickbacks.  

dbeausoleil57
dbeausoleil57

@Mendax2013 @VenkmanPHD It's ok, because when we are playing AWESOME console exclusives on the ps4, he will be channel surfing wishing that microsoft had listened to the gaming community at large.

Javier
Javier

@mjswooosh As the DRM I bet Sony is doing the same but MS talked about it first.

Tell me what is that the market wants so we can be in the same page.

ooblah
ooblah

@rogue81 @Javier  

You're missing the point here.  This conference wasn't for gamers - it was for everyone.  Microsoft understands that the life of it's console won't be determined by gamers alone - they have to appeal to a much broader audience.  Yes, the conference was boring.   Yes, they showed shit for games.  Yes, they didn't have much for the core gamer.  But the average consumer (which includes moms who are intrigued by quirky motion controlled tech, grandparents who want to skype easily with their grandchildren, bros who only play C.O.D, and dads who want that centerpiece in their man caves that does everything) will have seen many of its features and will have had a much more positive reaction to it than core gamers.

Sure it's big, but so is a stereo reciever (and the receiver only has one function).  And despite its hulking size, it has a sleek-ish, universally attractive design.  No one complains about the size of their PC tower, and the new Xbox has 8Gs DDR3 ram, a GPU that's likely the size of the Nvidia GTX series of cards, a beefier processor, and a blu-ray optical drive - I imagine it'll also need plenty of fans and heat sinks to keep it cool under the hood.  I doubt the PS4 will be much smaller (if smaller at all).

Like VanOrd said, this presentation was a calculated measure.  There likely to spend some time at E3 talking about the boring shit (sales, partnerships, the future of the console, the 360's life cycle, blah blah blah) and use plenty of 'Exec-U-Speak' while they're at it, but they'll likely use the majority of their time talking about and showing games and new IPs.  If they don't, it's obvious who will be the clear winner this year.  But if MS can make it clear that their box is a gaming machine first and foremost, then I will have not been let down.

P.S.  MS showed a box and an interface ... Sony didn't.

Javier
Javier

@rogue81 @Javier I didnt  find it boring; I would if this conference happened on E3.

So now we know the console and all its entertainment capabilities son at E3 they will make a quick recap of all of this and dedicate the most of the times to the games.

Take the time and read more insightful articles about the capacity of the hardware, read about the impressive Kinect 2.0, even if you hate Kinect and its games, the device is amazing!
Read about how the three OS are working at the same time so while you are playing, one virtual machine is working backstage optimizing the game you play and taking tabs on other apps.

That will excite you.

Obviously they didn't talk about this during the presentation but afterwards during Q&A to the press.

Check for the articles at Gizmodo and get to know the hardware, its like opening the hood of the newest Ferrari before teking it to the track (the track being the games). 

Kevin VanOrd being a member of the press could have access to all of this and talk about it, he just sound like a whiny forum poster.

Ju-noh
Ju-noh

@IndremaLover @Uesugi-dono

When I first decided to get a console, the 360 and the PS3 were extremely difficult to decide between.  The one thing that tipped me towards buying a PS3 was the exclusives.

This generation, I don't need to know the exclusives in order to figure out what console I would rather own.

FenixNoT
FenixNoT

@duimnuri @FenixNoT I just built a PC with a 2TB HDD, 8GB RAM, Gigabyte Mobo, 680W PSU, an Intel Core i5 3570K @4.4Ghz, and a PNY GTX680 4GB Signature edition for £1000. 

That may seem like a large investment but I made the point on another article that you more than make your money back in savings. Consider all of the games you would buy during a console cycle. Now consider saving at LEAST £10 from the base price. Then you have Steam, GoG, GmG, Gamersgate etc who do massive sales on current titles on a weekly or bi weekly basis. Case in point, Borderlands two was £10 on Steam last week, Sleeping Dogs is £10 on Steam right now, I got GTA 4 and all of the DLC packs for it(TLAD & BoGT) for £7.50 not long after BoGT was released.

A PC is a big one time investment that pays for itself and rewards you with better graphics, freedom to mod your games and to top it all off it has none of the restrictions of a console. I can install what I want, when I want and I have access to a ton of insanely handy programs that enhance my gaming/entertainment experience. 

I agree consoles are more profitable for devs which is a sad fact, but I would dispute that games will be developed for console in the way they were before. Now that the consoles have a 64 bit architecture they are more like PC's than they were before. It won't be a case of developing it on one console and porting it to the other platforms, but rather it being developed on a computer and scaled to meet the system specs of the console. There will obviously be exceptions to this rule but the good devs will take this approach and we'll likely see the same old shit from Activision, EA etc who are more console centric and don't care about PC. Devs who want to hit the maximum range of consumers and also deliver the highest possible quality will be developing on high end computers and then porting to the consoles. 

mjswooosh
mjswooosh

@HardStomp I don't see this going as smoothly as you describe to be honest. MS isn't in the same league as Steam in terms of understanding how to deliver COMPELLING digital content that people actually want to buy. When you look at MS's sales numbers of online games vs the sales of the same titles at Gamestop it's not close (I know a Gamestop regional manager, so had a chance to take a peek at some of their internal numbers and, full disclosure, I used to work at MS...), MS is not trying to compete here...they are trying to monopolize and eliminate competition, which is pretty par for the course.. And, when spoken of in various online circles XBLA "sales" have been a punchline for quite some time. 

Now, with that said, if they adopt a similar pricing structure to Steam then it may work, but with typical MS hubris  I don't see that happening.

On a personal level, if what you are describing actually happens I won't be gaming on consoles anymore, full stop. And I don't think I'm alone. If MS wants to shift their "base" to the DudeBros who cheerily lap up a shit sandwich if u tell them it tastes like roast beef, well count me out.  I'm quite comfortable with PC gaming and my massive back-log of 360/PS3/Wii games could easily keep me busy for the next five years. lol And I keep hearing similar things from tons of gamers (I still work in the industry). 

I don't think MS quite understands where they are headed with all this. It's clear already the One isn't a focused product. (I worked on the 360 launch...way different beast)..and MS has a recent history of trying to force square pegs in round holes...we saw how well that worked with Win8, which has been an unmitigated disaster from a consumer standpoint...if you subtract pack-in sales the numbers are pretty sad. 

Ultimately, MS seems to be repeating Sony's PS3 launch mistakes (we laughed our asses off at them at the time...I'm guessing Sony is returning the favor right now). Trying to give consumers something they don't really want and making it more difficult instead of easier to get into gaming doesn't sound like a winning formula. I suppose only time will tell, but I'm so underwhelmed and even offended by this reveal it'd take an act of God to convince me to buy a One at launch at this point. And this is coming from a guy who owns 5 360s and is still, in principle, a "fan-boy" of the company I worked for for so long...or, at least the company as it used to be/should be....

My $.02....

Javier
Javier

@arkno

@Javier

 @mjswooosh

We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One and wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed today. While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail.

Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios.

Another piece of clarification around playing games at a friend’s house – 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

Javier
Javier

@mjswooosh
Comment From blame spaceblame space: ] Which areas of the Xbox One will you be focusing on at your E3 presentation?

Wednesday May 22, 2013 4:23 blame space4:24Major Nelson (Larry Hryb): Games. Games. GAMES :)

on todays Major Nelson blog

Javier
Javier

@mjswooosh So after a one hour official introduction you can deduce the entire MS business plan and that plan does not involve games at all.

mjswooosh
mjswooosh

@Javier I can tell you right now that the market doesn't want: it doesn't want half-functional gimmicks like the Kinect to wave and jerk around at when a simple remote control works more efficiently and reliably. The market doesn't want always on requirements that turn your console into a $500 brick if you dont have a net connection. The market doesn't want to get ass-raped for buying a used game and having to pay out a ridiculous used game tax/fee. The market doesn't want to control cable TV and play games while FACEBOOKING and TWEETING and YOUTUBING at the same time on a 50" big screen TV when its much easier to do this on a tablet or laptop. 

The market DOES want good, compelling game experiences. I have yet to see ONE thing about the Xbox 1 which tells me that it is going to make GAMING better.

Javier
Javier

@ooblah @rogue81 @Javier I also think E3 is the place for game to shown since the audience they are trying to reach with the entertainment capabilities of the console certainly wont pay much attention to E3 as people who look forward the games will.

And the design looks like being made by Bang & Olufsen, so how cool is that?