Xbox One: First Thoughts

So let’s get this out of the way first: Xbox One is a stupid name. I’m vaguely aware that the idea behind it is probably that there should be ‘one’ box under your telly that does everything, but it just sounds like it’s the first ever Xbox. I’ll bet they spend AGES thinking it up too, which just makes me sad. Still, Xbox 360 was a stupid name too, but that never hurt its chances.

One of the most exciting design features of the Xbox One is that it floats.
One of the most exciting design features of the Xbox One is that it floats.

Second, my god it’s fat. Seriously, that box is MASSIVE. The fridge school of console design. Perhaps it’s the ‘one’ box under your telly because it ate all of the other ones. Where’s the form factor? Where are the ergonomic curves? Why have they made an enormous two-tone desktop PC? And then you’ve got to find somewhere to put that bloody huge Kinect sensor as well.

Speaking of which, why does everyone at Microsoft think that talking and waving at your telly is the future? I’ll be the first to admit that Kinect is clever, but is it any more than a novelty? As I was watching the reveal last night, one of a series of anonymous men in suits walked onto the stage and started barking commands into thin air: “Xbox! Trending!” “Xbox! Go home!” All I could think was: “My god he sounds like a tit.” But thanks to Xbox One, now I can sound like a tit in the comfort of my own home.

Speaking of that reveal, there was an awful lot of talk about using your Xbox to watch TV… but can’t we just, you know, use a TV to watch TV? I’m still not entirely clear on what the benefits of watching TV through an Xbox actually are. There was talk of ‘instant switching’ between movies, games and TV, like we’re all ADHD children with an attention span of 10 seconds. I can’t think of a reason I’d want to instantly switch back and forth between all of these things, unless perhaps I was watching a porn movie and my girlfriend walked in.

Apparently the control pad has "40 new design innovations", although we have to guess what they are. Perhaps it's made of cork so it floats if you drop it in the bath?
Apparently the control pad has “40 new design innovations”, although we have to guess what they are. Perhaps it’s made of cork so it floats if you drop it in the bath?

I’m aware that all of this sniping just makes me sound like an Xbox hater, but the truth is that there was nothing in the presentation last night that made me get excited about the new console. I don’t care about Kinect, I hardly ever watch TV and I never play online, so there was very little that appealed to me. Then when they finally, FINALLY got round to talking about the games, they were just the same old bombastic blockbusters – Forza, Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc. Not only do these types of games leave me cold, they’re also available (for the most part) on the PlayStation 4, so where’s my reason to buy an Xbox One?

Then there’s the really irritating stuff. Details are still a bit sketchy, but it seems that any games you buy will be downloaded to your machine and tied to your Xbox Live account, which puts a big question mark over the whole pre-owned market. It seems that Microsoft will ‘allow’ (huh!) second-hand games to be played on your console, but you may have to pay a fee for the privilege. Then there’s the question of lending games to friends – apparently you can play your games on a friend’s Xbox One if you sign into your account on their machine, but presumably this isn’t an option if you want to lend it to them long term. It all sounds a bit Big Brother to me, and these innovations benefit only Microsoft and the big publishers, not the consumer.

Oh, and it’s not backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 either. So that’s a bit shit. Looks like you’ll have to keep two big boxes under your telly for the time being.

So all in all, rather than being excited, I just got a bit annoyed by the new Xbox One. Aside from fancier graphics, I’m not entirely sure why it’s better. Feel free to enlighten me.

[As penned in perplexity by Lucius Merriweather.]


  1. Yep, I saw that PS4 trailer too, it was actually released on Monday to steal a bit of the thunder away from Microsoft, presumably.

    All I want is a console that has great games and isn’t too expensive. I suspect that adding in a Kinect sensor and all of that other gubbins will make the Xbox One very spendy – it will be interesting to see how the price points of the PS4 and Xbox One compare. I think Sony probably learned their lesson about launching at too high a price point with the PS3 (which incidentally is the only reason I ended up with an Xbox 360 rather than a PS3 – the Xbox was cheap).

  2. Surely that article is taking the role of ‘critic’ to an entirely new level! I’m surprisingly surprised by the level of negativity surrounding the new xbox. I don’t want to say I don’t have a favourite but I’m wondering if everyone’s concerns are feeding on one another. I have a number of examples I’d like to table. First backwards compatibility. Both makes have a problem here due to different architecture. Solution: cloud computing by Sony or cheap second machine by Microsoft. No idea which is better. Next cost; Sony have more pricey ram and more graphics cores and Microsoft has kinect. Microsoft allegedly also will introduce a purchase scheme. I think Microsoft will be able to be very competitive in terms of cost. The Sony pad also looks more expensive. Three, the nature of used games. This is mad. From the perspective of the manufacturer you have to consider that every game sold second hand results in zero money from that sale going to the developer. Not good for game makers. Arguably not good for the industry? Additionally steam already essentially operates in this manner and is flippin great. Just got cs:go for a steal. But I can’t trade it in. But people still rate the service. Another argument is that if you can’t trade in games if might help prices go down. .. That’s pure speculation based on what I’ve read, which was mostly speculation. Also you have to look long term and consider the market. I bet more than 60% will be interested in NFL. America is a big place. Even my mate in the UK is into NFL. And America and the hordes of kids that will be interested in this watch a lot of judge Judy and the kardasians etc.

  3. Just getting warmed up here. I have to be careful top not go the other way. Ah yes, another thing is that they mentioned they have 14 new games in development, 8 of which are new IP. Not better than Sony but not fair to rule out. Ok maybe I’m about done. Ah one more (this post hasn’t been pre planned) is to do with kinect. The cost I understand was terrible. My experience is limited to prancing around in PC world. Seemed reasonable at the time but I was far from bought. But people did buy it. In droves. Was it not the fastest selling electronic device ever when it released? That interest shouldn’t be underestimated. The negative sentiment people Harbour may be tricky to overcome but with one in every box it had to be impossible to avoid contact. And if it’s good, people will talk and reviews will gain momentum and developers will develop. One killer app so to speak…
    Maybe I’m too excited I don’t know. Maybe I’m sorry to see a company that has served so me well in the last two generations get so blasted before anyone really knows for sure what the deal is. I’m sure sonys machine will be great. I’m pretty confident Microsoft’s will. I just can’t blame Microsoft for trying to minimise fraud and maximise revenue streams. If they prosper we do as gamers. Competition ensures they won’t ridiculously overcharge or they lose out to the competitor. For all the flak I think they will do ok. I’ve tried to be impartial but I do like the new xbox. I honestly thought the kinect presentation was quite cool. I love those early movies where you clap top turn on the lights or speak a name to call someone on the TV phone. Anyone seen demolition man?
    I think Sony have the raw power and I think Microsoft have a fun interface. Maybe I buck the trend but I can’t help it, I’m curious about kinect and I prefer the thumb stick positions of the xbox controller.
    Tally ho

  4. Oh dear errors. Not very agreeable.
    Feeding OFF one another
    Kinect PERFORMANCE was terrible.
    Other small ones.
    Humble apologies

  5. Interesting points Sam! I rush to mention that this is just my own point of view, and judging by the presentation, the Xbox isn’t aimed at me. I don’t want multimedia fanciness, I just want games. I’m also averse to the money-grabbing nature of it all – if they made games cheaper, like on Steam, it wouldn’t be so bad, but Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all charge the same for boxed games and downloads. And if anything, games will get more expensive in the next gen as they will cost more to make.

    I can’t help thinking that the industry is heading down a dark alley by making ever more elaborate games and systems. Time will tell.

    At the moment, the PS4 is more appealing to me simply because it seems more focused on games and less focused on controlling the content you can access. It’s early days yet, but it will be interesting to see what announcements emerge from Sony and Microsoft over the next few months. At the very least, I’m looking forward to seeing what developers can do with the next-gen tech.

  6. Cheers guys. I’m starting to see that the savvy gamer will strongly back a powerful version of the base formula. And at the very core they are games machines. Any departure from the core will rifle feathers. I think the hard core nature of the first xbox is what made it so popular. It’s like a reverse between the two companies. Sony concentrating on games and Microsoft doing the living room thing. I think old Gaulian has the right idea. Take advantage of both! It’s amazing how much emotion these new machines are creating on the Internet. Does that not speak for the breath and popularity of this medium now. I don’t play as much as I used to, but I enjoy reading about it all very much. There are some very good and thoroughly detailed articles to be found on eurogamer as always. One comment mentioned the disparity between the market rates of the competing companies. The shift has moved in favour of Sony showing the mass agreement with your thoughts Lew! I’m now looking forward to E3 and popping back to read more about your thought provoking opinions on the new generation of our agreeable pastime! 2 weeks…. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas.

    1. E3 will definitely be an interesting one this year – lots of weight-throwing and oneupmanship from Sony and Microsoft to look forward to, no doubt. Little wonder that Nintendo decided to stay out of the whole thing!

  7. I felt very disinterested in xbox one, but couldn’t quite put it into words, I think my mane problem has been that I’ve seen very little difference between xbox and playstation so I only get one or the other, but nintendo, despite any drawbacks remains different enough to merit a secondary console. though as a poor man all my games are used so I’m leaning toward playstation this time.

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