Go Ahead, Abandon the Xbox One

Xbox One

No, seriously. If you have an Xbox One, get rid of it. It’s a completely rational move to make, considering how badly Microsoft botched the launch of its latest failure. And, now that sales figures indicate Sony’s PS4 is the runaway victor in this epic, two-month-old battle, experts are encouraging all Microsoft supporters to self-flagellate until rationality is attained, or consciousness is lost, whichever comes first.  (Additional discounts are available if you record the flagellation on your NSA-activated Kinect.)

Sigh.

In just a few short months since the latest round of the console wars began, the gaming media has managed to reduce its credibility to new lows. “Mommy blog” lows. “Supermarket tabloid” lows. “Glowing reviews of direct-to-DVD action flick” lows.

This week, the NPD released its US sales figures for January 2014, which showed that Sony’s impressive new machine outsold the more enigmatic Xbox nearly two-to-one since the beginning of the year. This added unneeded fuel to a fire already riddled with questionable sales figures, obtuse console specs and misquoted game developer opinions – all of which have declared a clear winner in a race that has just begun.

Now, make no mistake, Sony has done just about everything right since launching the PS4, while the once-mighty Microsoft is now in the rare position of underachieving with each of its big products. Instead of dominating the console war out of the gate, as it did in 2005, Microsoft now must include the Xbox One alongside Windows 8 and Windows Phone—strong products hampered by a lack of understanding and public acceptance.

The only difference is that, while Windows 8 and Windows Phone remain a little too radical for an icon-dependent consumer base, the Xbox One stands a very good chance of reclaiming a good chunk of lost ground from Sony, even if it’s not “the better machine.”

Here are a few reasons why…

  1. Gaming’s Future Lies in the Cloud

As of this writing, no one really knows what Microsoft has planned for its supposed cloud-based gaming services. While company reps have repeatedly vaunted the One’s future ability to render graphics and game AI through cloud services, they have been tight-lipped about how it will actually benefit the system’s performance.

Will it produce better graphics on par with the PS4? Will games load faster than the PS4? No one knows for sure, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation coming anytime soon.

Still, Microsoft didn’t become a juggernaut by accident. The odds of them releasing notably inferior hardware without having a hidden trump card are slim. The odds of them accepting “also-ran” status for living room dominance are even slimmer.

Maybe the cloud-based services are just that – gas and vapor. But, you just have to believe that the Xbox One is going to be more competitive as the generation rolls on. The cloud is likely a big part of the plan.

  1. My Exclusives Can Beat Up Your Exclusives”

More than a decade ago, Microsoft went from a computer company to a gaming contender on the shoulders of one game: Halo: Combat Evolved. Though the series has seen its share of peaks and valleys, the epic shooter has become as synonymous with console video games as Mario, Link, Pac-Man or Lara Croft. No matter how many more pixels the PS4 churns out, it will never have Halo. And, when the game is released, you can bet a slew of Xbox Ones will be purchased at the same time.

This isn’t limited to iconic space marines, either. Microsoft’s upcoming exclusives include next-generation versions of popular franchises Gears of War and Fable, as well as a massive new IP known as Titanfall, which Microsoft is banking on in a big way.

Sony has plenty of good exclusives of its own, but none are system-movers like those slated to appear on the Xbox One.

  1. Kinect and SmartGlass

When Microsoft launched Kinect for the Xbox 360, most gaming insiders knew it wasn’t a peripheral as much as it was a litmus test for the next generation of machines. It was gimmicky and under-utilized, but hinted at a more interesting gaming future.

The Xbox One comes standard with a much-improved Kinect sensor, and Microsoft – despite mounting concerns over gaming privacy (and perversion) – plans to implement it into most titles moving forward.

The same can be said for Xbox SmartGlass, a mobile phone and tablet app that serves as an active second screen for a variety of gaming purposes. Though currently a novelty, upcoming games are being designed with SmartGlass immersion in mind.

In a generation that is currently being defined by better-looking rehashes of well-worn content, having new, unique ways to play will likely be a large factor in console sales over the lifetime of this generation.

  1. People Love an Underdog

Sony has clever marketers. When Microsoft swung and missed with its public announcement of the Xbox One, focusing on entertainment rather than game titles, Sony quickly swooped in and deemed itself as solely focused on games, gamers and gaming. It was smart, opportunistic branding, and seems to be paying off handily.

But, lest we forget, it was just seven years ago that these same fans “abandoned” Sony’s Playstation brand for Xbox, because of the myriad entertainment and online experiences offered by the 360. Did that really affect the long-term performance of the PS3? Not even close. The only difference between 2006 and today is which corporate giant is playing the role of “underdog.”Both of these machines want to dominate your living room. Both will stream movies, browse the Web, download apps and let you call Grandma in high definition. And both will play amazing video games.

Once the hubbub about system power and brand loyalty quiets to a dull roar, fans will notice the Xbox One has some pretty neat tricks up its sleeve. Maybe not enough to make the Xbox One a top-seller, but certainly enough to end some meaningless discussions.

  1. Diminishing Returns

For all the talk of differences in graphical fidelity, console memory and the like, no one seems to be addressing the obvious – both of these systems produce fantastic looking games, and are equally significant upgrades over their predecessors.

Yes, the PS4 is a side-by-side winner in the looks department, and appears to have the most hardware upside. But, by a show of hands, how many gamers are noticing grass textures or light reflections when digital bullets are whizzing by their headsets? Likely, not many.

Unlike previous generations, this round of console wars sees technology approaching the ever-elusive “Uncanny Valley” – that grail-like line between digital images and reality. And, with each incremental step we’ve taken closer to that line, we are “wowed” less and less often.

Do the systems differ in graphics? Absolutely. Do they differ as much as much as the Super Nintendo did from the Sega Genesis nearly 20 years ago? Not even close.

No matter how many technical specs are bandied about, both of these systems produce unprecedented visual experiences, yet neither will overwhelmingly trump the other. Over time, gamers will put these numbers aside and just enjoy the games for what they are, rather than what they could, or should, be.

In the end, games are what it all comes down to. The system with the best, must-have titles will “win” this round. Of course, it will likely end in a near-tie, setting consumers up for another exciting, statistics-driven console war in the next five to seven years.

The gaming media probably already predicted a winner of that race, too.

Editorial by Brad Bortone

Sources:

Venture Beat
International Business Times
Xbox Wire

28 Responses to "Go Ahead, Abandon the Xbox One"

  1. SaganNotPagan   March 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    A lot of the negative feedback seems to stem from the fact that the raw technology could have been more powerful. Most appreciate that system optimisation will progress with time, but the consoles are using hardware that already places restrictions on potential performance. And the cloud, much like the cake, is a lie.

    Reply
  2. Navin Bhandari   March 10, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Use the kinetics, dont drop it..every1 that bought the xbox one did so because the kinetics is something new and has plenty of scope to grow. Xbox is marketed as an entertainment system and therefore come with a higher price tag..MICROSOFT need improve on this side of things otherwise the machine is gonna be a flop.
    The mature audience want more than just a gaming console.

    Reply
  3. Marcus Amison   March 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I have both the X1 and Ps4 and think they are brilliant. What I do find a pity is that before all this doom and gloom on the future of the Xbox one, colleagues who I worked with and who are currently 360 owners had every intent to move over to X1 but are now considering the Ps4 simply because of what their reading. Sony must be loving all the bad press the X1 is getting. Fact is the X1’s a cracking machine but will get overlooked because of consumer doubt. Shame.

    Reply
  4. Jason Robinson   February 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Long time gamer here. I can remember when my parents got me a ColecoVision. I am not a fan boy of either system. Owned PS 1&2 then switched to 360. I went back and forth on on the PS4 & XB1. I ultimately decided on the X1. I’m not a “hardcore” gamer anymore. Between working 50-60hrs a week and raising a family I don’t have that much free time. I needed something that could do a lot of stuff. I’m not saying I won’t buy a PS4 eventually but I believe MSFT has something up their sleeve for the X1. I will agree MSFT messed up with all the DSMR stuff. They tried to do too much change too fast. In the end buy whichever you want it makes no difference to me.

    Reply
  5. Kevin   February 16, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Great article , loved the tongue in check title . Hope to see some more Great articles soon.

    Reply
  6. jose jimenez   February 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Great….. Great article.

    Reply
  7. Andrew Sansome   February 16, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Brad, thank you for restoring my faith in the ‘journalism’ that’s typically covering the next gen consoles. I am so sick of the daily media declaring the doom of the Xbox one… And at this point, I can’t imagine anyone but the saddest, loneliest, of fanboys cares anymore. Those who have an Xbox are having a blast, same for those who have PS4’s, and those who are undecided probably own both. The media need to move on with their lives and celebrate that we have two great consoles to choose from, instead of stoking the ‘console war’, so they can continue to be lazy and copy paste the same garbage every day.

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Andrew, thanks for the nice note. I’m kind of sick of the negative “reporting” that occurs in gaming media, too. But, as long as the games business remains big business, marketing teams will continue to push numbers and stats to better position their products. And, with this dissemination of info, comes reactive journalism.

      Reply
  8. Tcal   February 16, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Sony’s exclusives from its first Party studios move tons of units. By contrast, MS doesn’t create IP they BUY them. Just look at Double Helix and now people who bought KI are screwed, stuck without a developer to give them updates.

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Tcal, very good point. My point wasn’t to say Microsoft makes the games, just that they have them. Sony’s exclusives are great, and as an Xbox owner, I wish I could play many of them. But I would wager a great deal that the Gears of Wars and Halos of the world are likely to move more systems than Uncharted or Killzone.

      Reply
      • Digital Syrup (@digitalsyrup)   February 17, 2014 at 9:20 am

        I’m sorry Tcal, but didn’t Sony BUY Naughty Dog which made Uncharted? Your argument is invalid. Both companies employ the same tactic of purchasing exclusivity. It all comes down to who has the best new-IP and who has the biggest bag-o-cash.

        Reply
        • Rob   March 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm

          I agree with digitalsyrup, Microsoft generally provide better ongoing support and longevity out of their games. I remember getting really annoyed with Sony for not doing add ons or updates to games that needed them. Twisted metal for example was abandoned before release.

          Reply
  9. Shane Haynes   February 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I feel I missed something. I opened this page to be greeted by paragraphs telling me how terrible the One is and why I should chuck it out immediately, followed by “here’s why.” The reasons that followed only really told me “PS4, Xbox One, it doesn’t matter. They both have good points and bad points, but they essentially remain the same- two solid consoles.” Is this article a witch hunt for the One, or an article telling me that they’re both good?

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Shane, sorry if my debut article for the Guardian was confusing – not my intention. My intro (basically everything before “Sigh”) was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and a little sarcastic, to draw attention to how defeatist and overblown much of today’s gaming and entertainment media can be. The rest of the piece was about how I think Microsoft can gain ground on Sony’s early lead, and create fun experiences unique to the Xbox.

      Though I’m admittedly an Xbox guy, both of these consoles are fantastic, and no matter which machine you buy, you’re bound to have a blast.

      Reply
  10. Nick   February 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Once xbox one makes a console that focuses more on gaming, and less on gimmicks, they will come back. Kinect needs to be dropped, and the price needs to be reduced. Once that happens, it will bounce back fairly quickly.

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Nick, thanks for writing. I don’t think Microsoft needs to be more focus on gaming as much as they need to focus less on marketing. Historically, all-in-one set top boxes are tough sells to consumers, yet MS continues to put the lion’s share of its ad dollars into promoting how the Xbox integrates into everything you do.

      Regarding Kinect, I think they’ll eventually release a “slim” Xbox One at a more attractive price point, but in my opinion, Kinect is vital for the overall experience, and should be improved and better integrated, rather than dismissed.

      Reply
  11. Steve   February 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Keep in mind that there is a small but very vocal segment of gamers that are extremely obnoxious and immature. Add in the anonymous nature of the internet and you have the prefect recipe for these freaks to gloat and thump their chests that their plastic toy is ‘winning the war’. It’s beyond pathetic and very sad that people will take the time to actually spends hours and days of their lives posting nonsense on the internet.

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Steve, thanks for writing. I agree wholeheartedly, though I think much of the concern about the Xbox One comes from the “changing of the guard” that’s occurred in gaming over the last decade or so. Think about Sega and Nintendo, two companies that used to dominate console sales. Nintendo is struggling, and considering leaving the hardware business, while Sega bowed out a long while back.

      Video games and systems are no longer frivolous purchases, and gamers seem to be concerned about buying the “right” system — the system that will be around for longer than a few years. Microsoft has not been shy about reporting its lack of profit on Xbox hardware, and might just bow out of this race before the next generation, so I “get” why people care so much. But, is it worth engaging in meaningless arguments over? No.

      Reply
  12. Leon Fuckin' Trotsky   February 16, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Clever?? No, not clever at all. What Sony did was a cheap shot.
    “Oh, well you don’t like those things? K, we won’t do them.”

    Both consoles with their high prices and little notable changes for such makes me pretty pissed, while the PS4 had the most notable gaming change, it’s still small compared to what xbox and ps did from the first xbox and ps2, it was glorious. The Xbox One I like overall, just not as a gaming console, it’s a cool gadget though.

    Point overall is that I’d rather keep the value of money, do yourselves a favor, sell your xbox one/ps4, buy a cyberpower gaming pc for about the same price, and learn what you’ve been missing out on. I love console gaming it should never die, but they brought this upon themselves.

    I’d honestly rather spend my money on the best gaming mouse and keyboard, speakers, chair, and a pair of Astro a40’s instead of buying one of these consoles, maybe i’ll get an xbox one at gamestop for half the price in a few years for a convenience item, but that’s it.

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      PC gaming is a whole different animal, but I see your point. And I long for the day I can purchase a $500 game console as a “convenience item.” 🙂

      Cheers, and thanks for writing.

      Reply
  13. Matthew Bryant   February 16, 2014 at 3:25 am

    1. No offense, but if you don’t understand “the cloud” you probably shouldn’t talk about “the cloud”. First off, there is no “the cloud”. Microsoft is referring to their server farm which implements a cloud structure. If bandwidth was infinite and latency was non-existant then the Xbox One could theoretically be omnipotent. Reality exists unfortunately. While your GPU and CPU can process a Gb of information in about a hundredth of a second, it would take you about 5 minutes to transfer that information over the internet in one direction. Do you see the problem here? Our internet connections aren’t fast enough. That won’t change in the next 10 years. We DO know what the cloud is capable of graphically. Not much. Nvidia already did extensive research on the subject. Their findings? Cloud services are pretty useless for assisting with graphical tasks currently and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. Remember how Microsoft promised that Kinect would win over core gamers and that we’d see its amazing innovation back in 2010? Yeah. That didn’t happen either. It’s just an empty promise. Fool you once, shame on them. Fool you twice… Well, come on. The coffee smells pretty good. Take a whiff.

    2. Uncharted and Gran Turismo ARE system sellers. Uncharted outsold Gears of War. Gran Turismo unsold EVERY exclusive on the Xbox One. Not to mention the fact that Sony has WAY more exclusives that sold 2-3 million than Microsoft. Combined, Sony’s exclusives outsell Microsoft’s. They just have a lot more that cater to a lot more people than the shooter dude bro crowd. I’m not saying Halo and Gears of War are bad games, but there’s something to be said about variety and Microsoft doesn’t offer that. Sony does and very well. A game doesn’t have to sell 8 million to be worth making and playing. Sony gets it. Microsoft doesn’t. It’s going to hurt MIcrosoft. Xbox userbase’s number one argument last generation? Lack of exclusives.

    3. Why are we talking about Kinect? It was a failure last generation and there’s nothing to indicate it will be any better this generation. You don’t need a webcam for voice controls. Just a microphone. Microsoft is forcing you to buy Kinect for a service that they could provide through any microphone. It’s stupid. Not to mention that Kinect has yet to be shown useful for any gaming related features apart from fitness and dancing. Making the camera more accurate won’t suddenly change the fact that it doesn’t have any buttons. We don’t have holodecks yet. We can’t interact wih objects on the screen when we’re not in the screen. That’s why we have buttons. They work pretty well.

    I have no idea why you even mentioned Smart Glass since Sony has the exact same thing for the PS4 and remote play for the Vita on top of it. It seems that you don’t know much about the PS4.

    4. There are plenty of consoles that have done poorly in the past. Being an underdog doesn’t make you successful. Sony didn’t recover from the poor launch of the PS3 based on the sole fact that they were the underdog. No, they apologized and did everything they could to make the situation better. They did a really good job. It was a bad first couple of years, but then the PS3 became better every year. If Microsoft wants to fix their situation they need to do the same hard work that Sony did. They can start off by apologizing for all of their mistakes, just like Sony did 6 years ago. An apology and a sincere promise to fix the situation goes a long way to winning back consumers. I don’t see Microsoft apologizing for anything.

    5. The difference isn’t marginal. When Infamous Second Son and The Order: 1886 release you’ll see what I mean (you could see for yourself already if you wanted to look at screenshots and trailers). It’s a lot more apparent than you think. You’ll see what next gen can truly do. Also, Sony just has better developers than Microsoft. That doesn’t mean they make better games, but they are far more efficient at coding. Microsoft doesn’t have anybody that can compete with Naughty Dog, Quantic Dream, or Sucker Punch. Remedy is their best developer (though a second party developer), and they are no Naughty Dog. 343 Studios is killing Halo. Gears of War is an unknown at this point since Epic has nothing to do with it anymore. The biggest disappointment for me from Microsoft? More Fable, Halo, Gears, and Forza with little else. Remember those new exclusives we were promised? I wouldn’t hold your breath.

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Matthew, thanks for writing. I can’t address every point you made, but appreciate your understanding of the business, and your opinions.

      In the end, my point was to say BOTH systems are awesome, not to pick Xbox as the “better” anything. If the media was reporting that Xbox was outselling PS 2:1, I’d have likely crafted the same article supporting the PS4. Why? Because it’s far too early to determine anything about this supposed “war.”

      Both companies will be just fine, and both machines will create awesome games. Period.

      Reply
    • Dave   February 18, 2014 at 8:04 am

      If you aren’t going to use actual stats when making a fact-based claim you shouldn’t make fact-based claims. Uncharted did not outsell Gears of War… Compare… http://www.vgchartz.com/article/250124/gears-of-war-a-sales-history/…. to http://www.vgchartz.com/article/250142/uncharted-a-sales-history/….. … and I guarantee you that Gran Turismo won’t outsell Titanfall.

      Reply
  14. Ashton Taylor (@TheShadowsOfUs)   February 16, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Get this stupid crap out of here all this is getting old grow up and stop bashing on things you think you know all about. I think the PS4 and the Xbox One are great

    Reply
  15. Jonathan   February 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Halo is good, but it will not always hold its glory. Honestly, I think FPS’s are a burning out genre. Third person is rising in popularity significantly. This could be a good factor for kinect, but honestly I don’t ever see kinect being loved by he majority of gamers. It had its spotlight moment upon release, but a new kinect isn’t a game changer when the concept is the same as the last device, but more precise. I really think Sony will win this round and if it continues with its brilliant plan of involving developers on creating its product, it will remain successful. Congrats Sony for setting a new, for the gamer standard! Xbox will likely follow this model and I think Xbox fans should also give Sony a pat on the back for creating a better PR with Microsoft. It compelled the competition to listen to gamers.
    Game on!

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      I agree that Halo has lost a little luster, but try and tell that to the guys sleeping out in front of Gamestop to get a midnight release.

      Regarding the spirit of competition, I couldn’t agree more. Let’s hope it’s a long, drawn out battle that forces game developers to make fantastic software for both machines.

      Reply
  16. Barry Cope   February 15, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I disagree that Sony doesn’t have system selling games to match up,Uncharted for example is pretty solid. Naughty Dog is quiet the feather in Sony’s hat and their IPs will be significant system sellers.

    Reply
    • Brad Bortone   February 16, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      And I forgot to mention God of War! That was a major oversight on my part. I stand behind my claim that Xbox has better exclusives, but that’s just an opinion, which is worth relatively little in the grand scheme of things.

      Reply

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