Xbox One Revealed. Nerdstafari Underwhelmed.

By Ben

 

Here at Nerdstafari we love video games. From classic consoles through super-powered Blu-Ray discs powering bigger than Hollywood blockbusters. As the resident video game “expert” of this duo, I have now the task of running down the reveal of Microsoft’s new Xbox. A bit later than the general press – sorry folks, not being paid to do this unfortunate, regular 9-5 jobs are lame – but I still have the responsibility to review the reveal of the “revolution” of home entertainment. This is a bittersweet task…

 

 

 

So I have to admit, in the competition between Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, I threw my allegiance behind both incarnations of the Xbox we’ve had. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve owned every system since the days of the N64. I’m a gamer, not a fanboy. I hold no grudges against any games or systems. I’ve just always felt that the Xbox line, specifically the 360 has the better exclusives and I prefer the controller over Sony. To this end I play my 360 more, own more games for it, and frequent its online services more often. I still have my qualms, of course. Paying $60 for a Gold membership sucks….big time. I’ve honestly found that the multiplayer opponents on the PSN are slightly more polite – slightly being the key word – and having that be free from the get go is amazing. Plus my PS3 is a Blu-Ray player, supports any Bluetooth headset, has a sleeker UI, allows for greater customization, and well you get the point. Both systems have their pluses and negatives, but even with the PS3’s specs and features it’s the games that speak loudest, and Halo has had been in its Mjolnir suited grasp since day one.

Yesterday we saw the reveal of Microsoft’s simplistically named Xbox One (my wife said, “That name’s stupid, you aren’t supposed to go backwards. Cute.) With my partner in crime, Max, on the couch next to me we watched with anticipation of what the next-gen console had to offer. The future of gaming? Brilliant graphics? Amazing IPs? Fantastic interfacing and controls? No more stupid Kinect? My God, we were disappointed.

It’s not that the system doesn’t have potential. The specifications match the PS4 almost to a T. Microsoft has great IPs like Halo and Gears of War. And Hell, even though you have to pay for their online service, you get what you pay for. Xbox’s online multiplayer services run smoother and that is a big deal. These are all great selling points for a console and would create massive buzz around the new system at the reveal. So where the heck were they? Microsoft focused on all the extra features the system has. Voice and motion control are great – in theory – but they aren’t necessary. Partnering with television networks is cool, but I spend $75 on cable service already…so I can watch TV. Not needing to use the disc after I install the game is interesting, but wait, I have to pay a fee to purchase a used game? Or even play a game over at a buddy’s? What happened? I want a game system, not a suped up TV tuner.

And this is where Microsoft dropped the ball. They dropped it right on the gonads of every gamer that was watching the reveal. That was, oh I don’t know, 90% of the audience? They spent nearly the entire presentation on showing how these new features DOMINATE (grrrr) the entertainment market. “The Xbox One has all these supercalifragilisticexpialidocious* abilities, why would we ever need to hear about its gaming capabilities?” said no gamer ever. This reveal of a video game console featured no video games. That makes sense, right?

Listen, I’m not going to assume that Microsoft doesn’t care about gaming. History has shown that they have always had good games. Aside from multiplatform games, their exclusives have amazing track records. That speaks volumes for the company. They at least are willing to throw money at developers so they can create amazing titles. But that is what I buy a game system. To play frackin video games! I felt so excluded during the presentation of the Xbox One. I’ve already shown I’m willing to spend hundreds of dollars on gaming, and that’s before the actual purchase of games! When I see a reveal for a new game system, I expect to see more game related information, not some half assed partnership with a sports network so I can track my Fantasy League. I’ve got a PC and tablet and smartphone I can do that with already. The latter two options I don’t have to be tethered to my home for. The Lakers moved up in the standings, I’m at work, let me wait until I can be in front of my TV to make changes, it’s not like I have a mobile device that can do that…oh wait.

We still have E3 to look towards, at least. I’m expecting a much better show from not just Microsoft, but Sony and Nintendo as well. I’m expecting good titles with amazing graphics and superb in game features. I’m expecting presentations from enthusiastic developers and publishers showcasing the medium they love. I’m expecting journalists to be stuff like sardines in front of demo cases vying for the chance to get a hands-on report. I’m also expecting to see what these game systems can do with, well, games. I love having multipurpose devices. I love having the ability to stream Netflix on every device I own. I love having the ability to access the web from my console. I love being able to track my friends list, to compare achievements and trophies and multiplayer stats. But what I love the most is playing games. Everything else is ancillary. I’m a gamer, what I do is game. If any company can’t show me that they understand that, I can’t show them my open wallet. It truly is too early to say anything definitively, I admit that. This isn’t a damning of the system or a prediction that it will fail or is dead in the water. It’s just that to be a gamer, excited to see the reveal of a new system, I want to feel like this reveal is for me. I’ll even go out on a limb and say the reveals of next-gen consoles should be first and foremost for the gamers. You want to tap into new markets and showcase more abilities? That’s great. I love seeing what companies are coming up with and what new technology is on the rise. I wouldn’t be a proper geek if I didn’t. However as a gaming system, the Xbox One, PS4, WiiU, and any other systems that are labeled as video game consoles, should be about the games. Anything else should be second. Don’t alienate the core gamers. We keep you alive in the industry, we can also cripple you.

 

 

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