Microsoft announced the coming release of two updates for its Xbox One video game console; the first will be in February and another major one early March. The updates to its Xbox One system are coming to stay on par or ahead of its nearest competitor, the Sony PS4.
The first Xbox One update, due February 11, contains several fixes and features users have asked for, as well as behind the scenes changes to benefit developers. Changes coming this month include: improvements to the Kinect voice controller’s abilities to make it more responsive to commands, the ability to see and manage content by separating My Games and My Apps lists and queues, adding a boot progress indicator to track updates while they load, reinstating the battery power indicator, and enabling use of a USB keyboard with the Xbox One.
On March 4, the next update will contain features to improve party and multiplayer capabilities. This release is coming just one week ahead of the release of Titanfall, a highly anticipated, team-based multiplayer game being released only for use on the Xbox and personal computers.
Microsoft tried to establish its Xbox One as the premier gaming platform with live TV integration when it launched in November, the same month Sony debuted its PS4. Both companies are fighting for dominance in the video game console world. The XBox One releases are part of a strategy to employ regular updates to stay ahead of the PS4 in capabilities, which Microsoft hopes translates to sales. The Xbox One was the top-selling console in the crucial gift-buying month of December, although rival Sony sold more units of its PS4 systems in November.
The Sony console beats the Microsoft one on price $400 versus $500, at least for now. Microsoft is offering a $100 credit to people who trade in an old PS3 and buy an Xbox One, evening out the price for those who qualify.
Microsoft is expecting users to value its ease-of-use for novice players and increased media functionality for the wow factor. Integration with other Microsoft offerings like Skype and Skydrive, along with the Kinect interface, cable TV support and exclusive games like Titenfall are important elements of the company’s Xbox One plans.
Many third-party games are released for both platforms. So besides price, the key difference in the battle for dominance between Xbox One and PS4 will be over exclusive games, not hardware, according to PC Magazine. The upcoming Titinfall, where Titans and their pilots battle over a war-torn planet, received rave reviews when unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2013. The accolades included a record six E3 Critics Awards and was named Best in Show by many gamer magazines. Other tools already in the Xbox One exclusive offerings lineup include Killer Instinct, an updated version of the classic fighting game; Dead Rising 3, a survival horror game; Forza Motorsport 5, a simulation racing game; and Crimson Dragon, an on-rails shooting game.
The updates announced by Microsoft should address feedback from Xbox One and set the console ahead of the PS4 for now, but can it stay there long term? Or, will people purchase one now and, once the prices are lowered, purchase the other later? Many gamers do have more than one system.
By Dyanne Weiss