Microsoft’s contentious console, the Xbox One, has everyone talking again today. This week’s latest issue revolves around the console’s limited PVR capabilities.
Marc Whitten, one of the platform’s chief architects has been explaining the DVR functionality, sandwiched under the beast’s chassis. According to Whitten, the device’s recording capabilities won’t be quite as flexible as many would have hoped for, with little in the way of feature customization. The console’s integrated DVR records in-game footage, which is beamed directly to the Xbox One cloud system, ready to be accessed ad hoc. Once the material has been successfully uploaded, the cloud function will enable customers to “manage, edit, and share” gameplay content.
The gaming enthusiasts, over at IGN, enquired about the console’s ability to handle 1080p (full HD) resolutions at 60 frames per second (fps), features that many would come to anticipate as standard from a premium, next-generation product. Unfortunately, Whitten explained that the device was capped at a much lower resolution of 720p, and at 30fps, before speedily moving on to discuss its aptitude in social media sharing.
One would expect the latest news, of the console’s limited PVR capabilities, to add to the growing list of concerns, articulated over Microsoft’s Xbox One, the handling and launch of which have been much maligned by industry experts and fans. The Microsoft team were forced to execute a hasty 180 over a number of its highly controversial plans and policies, ultimately scrapping its always-online requirements and enabling customers to exchange used games. A pre-planned statement, released by the now ex-Xbox President, Don Mattick, conveyed Microsoft’s overwhelming desire to wrestle back its core fan-base:
“You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.”
However, in the lead-up to these announcements there was considerable confusion over a wide range of important details, relating to the device’s functionality and performance, which was marred by protracted periods of silence over key issues and errors in communication. This, perhaps, explains Mattick’s departure from the company, as he now moves onto pastures green over at the social gaming behemoth, Zynga.
Whitten was also asked about Xbox Live Arcade, the Xbox 360’s current digital distribution interface, which enables dissemination of many smaller game titles, from independent games developers and big publishing companies.
“Sure, there is no difference between games in the store; games are games are games! You’ll find them in the same pivots (most popular, new, etc.) and we’ll be highlighting them in our dashboard experience. And of course, like all of your digital games content, you can play them on any Xbox One, and anyone can play them on your Xbox One.”
Achievements was also on the agenda, as Whitten confirmed the existence of different sets of platform-specific achievements, namely between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. However, flying the flag for his soon-to-be-released technology, he elaborated: “… on the Xbox One version, you’re getting a much richer set of features, such as seeing your achievements progress on the Xbox One console,” as well as receiving access to new game achievements, which become unlocked throughout the year.
Furthermore, if previous reports are anything to go by, it seems that time-bound challenges will also make their way onto the device; under these circumstances, fulfilling a particular achievement successfully requires completion within a given time window. In addition to this, community challenges, which entail tasks that a player is unable to achieve independently, are also in the works.
A recent post on Major Nelson’s blog, by Cierra McDonald, the Principle Group Program Manager, suggests an even greater wealth of new achievement-specific features, ready for the Xbox One’s release. This includes an improved dashboard user interface, sharable achievement progress statistics and “more beautiful” achievement history galleries.
The Xbox One’s limitations, on the PVR front, comes as a slight disappointment. The question is, will extra emphasis of the latest achievements help Microsoft to distract from its lack of capabilities in other areas?