Thinking Outside the Xbox One

It’s confession time. I don’t own an Xbox One or an Xbox 360. I don’t have an aversion to the Microsoft brand. I’m not one of those trolls who leaves comments like “M$” on message boards. I’d love to own an Xbox One but I just don’t have the time or money to add an Xbox to my gaming life. I have other writers here at Intelligent Gamer to cover off on that aspect of the gaming world. I’m much happier and far more confident writing about the gaming systems I do own and love; a Wii U, a 3DS, an iPad, a PS4 and a Vita. And of course, the almighty PC.

xbox-one2

The Xbox One

That aside, I do take an interest in the world of Xbox. As an “outsider” to the world of Microsoft gaming, I think I can offer some informed views on what the Xbox is doing right and what it’s doing wrong. And to be honest, I’m worried it’s doing more things wrong than what it’s doing right.

I feel bad for Xbox One owners. Their console is hurting right now. It seems like Microsoft’s strategy for the Xbox One’s future is in disarray, with changes to its course every few weeks or months becoming common place. And believe me, as a Wii U and Playstation Vita owner, I can empathise with what it means to own a great piece of hardware that’s not doing as well as it should.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the Kinect that was included with every Xbox One was to be made an optional accessory. It was obvious this was done to make the Xbox One cheaper, putting its price on par with the better selling Playstation 4. It’s now clear it will make it faster too, with a Microsoft spokesperson telling Eurogamer that without Kinect, the Xbox One can get an additional 10% of GPU performance. With Sony often touting that games on PS4 can run in 1080p and Xbox One games in 720p, it’s clear this has been a concern for the folks at Redmond.

kinect

Kinect is mandatory, but that doesn’t have to be a negative…

Which is crazy, really. The difference in image quality between 1080p and 720p is negligible, to the point where most consumers wouldn’t be able to notice the difference. Games on Xbox One look fine. Indeed, if Mario Kart 8 on Wii U has shown us anything, it’s really up to the developers to use the console effectively if they want to make pretty games. Wii U is less powerful than the Xbox One and PS4, but Mario Kart 8 manages to look as amazing as any game yet released on either of the two newer consoles.

Mario Kart 8 looks as good as anything we've seen on Xbox One so far

Mario Kart 8 looks as good as anything we’ve seen on Xbox One so far

As an outsider, I think Microsoft has failed abysmally to sell users on the merits of the console they envisaged. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. After all, Microsoft’s original vision for Xbox one was a DRM and privacy nightmare that was, at its core, anti-consumer. It was good that that they changed their vision, albeit kicking and screaming.

But that serious misstep aside, the Xbox One was a great console. It may have faced some arguably legitimate criticism that it wasn’t focused enough on games, but its media capabilities are amazing. The PS4 is a rank amateur compared to the Xbox One when it comes to media playback. The Xbox one also has better voice control and, arguably, a better dashboard than the PS4. Mandatory Kinect doesn’t have to be a bad thing; implemented better, with more concern for privacy, Kinect could have been a selling point, not a downside.

Xbox One plays media better than PS4

Xbox One plays media better than PS4

I think the Xbox One is a quality system, and its best days are still ahead of it. I don’t own one, and probably never will, and that’s what I think of it. If I can get behind the Xbox One, why can’t Microsoft?

What do you think? Has Microsoft done a good job of promoting the Xbox One, or do you agree that it has failed? What else is great about the Xbox One? Sound off in the comments below!

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Categories: opinion

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