Xbox One Reveal Conference Review

Microsoft reveals the next generation Xbox, and blunders its way through it.

And that’s that. With that conference, all the chips are on the table, and we finally know what next generation will be like in its entirety.

And if this conference was any indication, then it, along with the Wii U’s dismal performance, prove that it will be a bloodbath, a thoroughly one sided victory.

When Nintendo was having its disaster of a reveal for the Wii U at E3 last year, I kept thinking to myself, it will be very hard for someone else to ever botch a console reveal like this ever again. But damn, Microsoft did it. Contrasted with Sony’s excellent Playstation 4 reveal conference back in February, this was a complete disaster. Even on its own merits, this was a complete trainwreck. It was further proof, if any was needed after the last two years, that Microsoft has lost the plot completely. They are no longer in the business of making games consoles. They are now making entertainment hardware, iPads for the living room. Games just happen to be incidental.

Let’s start at the beginning, though. The one thing Microsoft actually did right that Sony did not, was that they showed us the hardware: they actually showed the physical console. It looks big and black, but it looks good. It kind of looks like an oversized DVR (more on that in a bit), but it definitely looks sleek, unlike, say, the original Xbox, or the new PS3 models.

What they also showed off was the new Kinect (which uses some pretty sophisticated gadgetry to achieve zero latency, an impressive feat regardless of whether it interests you personally or not), which has the same design language as the console itself; and they showed off the new controller, which is a gorgeous, sleek thing of beauty. It retains everything that was good about the 360 controller- the shape, ergonomics, layout, triggers (now improved via something called ‘impulse’ triggers), and improves upon it with an all new D-pad, one that looks absolutely excellent. Seriously, that controller looks beautiful. I want to get my hands on it ASAP; hopefully there is some sort of cross compatibility on it.

Xbox Controller copy

They aso showed off the new Xbox UI (looks extremely familiar to the current UI, but with a new, ‘Trending’ area for social media features), some impressive multitasking (switching from playing a game to a movie to TV to music in a second was some seriously impressive stuff; multi window multitasking was also great, and it should make looking up FAQs or Youtube videos to figure out how to progress in a game much easier now); they also announced the new console name: Xbox One.

That is a complete disaster right there. I understand why it’s called that: one box for all your entertainment. But we now have Xbox 1, Xbox 360, Xbox… One? Not to mention how bad it looks from a marketing perspective (One is less than 360, and One is less than 4). It’s a branding error, and Microsoft really should have learned something from Nintendo’s problems with Wii U, and, to a lesser extent, 3DS.

Right around here, however, is where the conference decided to go down the shitter. Microsoft then proceeded to spend a painfully, inordinately, long amount of time on the Live TV and sports features of the system… which, while great, are not what we care about. And we should have understod it right then and there- they don’t care what we care about. They’re not making this system for us. This is, like I said above, a living room iPad (down to the swiping and pinching gestures used to navigate… no, seriously). They gave us a painfully thorough examination of all these features with sports and Live TV, before we got a brief explanation on the system’s specs, which, admittedly, are impressive: 8GB of RAM (Microsoft didn’t specify what kind, so Sony fanboys still have the GDDR5 to crow about), an 8 core processor, an x86 architecture, a Blu Ray drive, 500 GB of hard drive space… they didn’t tell us what the GPU was like, or what this would mean for backwards compatibility. Unlike Sony, who spent probably more time on specs than was necessary, Microsoft spent less time than needed. Of the two evils, I would choose the former.

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There was a brief moment of hope then when Microsoft moved on to games- which turned out to be EA Sports. So yes, Madden, FIFA, NBA, all are coming to the Xbox One. Like we already knew. Apparently, unlike most first generation EA Sports games of every hardware cycle, these are all being made for the Xbox One from the ground up. We got to see some brief glimpses of each game running, before EA announced that Xbox would be getting exclusive content for the Ultimate Team Mode in FIFA. Yes, not even an exclusive mode. Exclusive content in a mode in a multiplatform game. That’s what it’s come down to.

The next step was Microsoft’s own games, and here they showed us Forza 5, which looked predictably awesome (and might in fact be the highlight of their entire conference), and for a brief moment, actually got me excited. They also showed off Remedy’s new game, called Quantum Break, which was… what was it? It had a confusing, garbled live action trailer, and then that was it. We know nothing more. Microsoft announced that they had many more exclusives (15) planned for the first year (though we don’t know how many are Arcade or Kinect games), and many new IPs (8). All of this sounded good… but why did we not get to see any of this?

What we did get to see was more Halo. And no, not a new Halo game. No, what we got to see instead was a new Xbox exclusive live action Halo TV series by Steven Spielberg… which, yes, sounds great, and is honestly something I would want to check out. However, it is not something I would buy the Xbox One for at all, and while I appreciate some genuinely interesting new content, I can’t stress this enough: I want games.

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So the last thing we got was a game to cap off the conference: Call of Duty: Ghosts. After the typical ‘this is what we wanted to do with this game, and this is how Xbox helped us achieve it,’ as well as the usual ‘all DLC timed exclusive for Xbox One), we got treated to the first footage of the game. It looks great, albeit a bit familiar (and isn’t exactly a graphical stunner; but then again, when has Call of Duty ever been a graphical stunner?), and is clearly something that could have sold the Xbox… had it been exclusive (which again, it is not). And that was that, that ended the conference.

Where were the games? Why was so much time spent on the multimedia crap? Yes, I understand that Microsoft promised a hardware reveal today, with games at E3, but they didn’t even focus on the hardware all that much (their specs presentation was brief and rushed), talking instead about TV and multimedia crap. The Wii U reveal conference had more games than this; the PS4 conference did everything better than this.

With the Xbox One reveal conference, we were supposed to get the final piece of the next gen puzzle, and a console that would actually give the PS4 a run for its money and prevent a PS2 like monopoly. Instead, we got a console that, while technically impressive, makes the Wii U look good simply because of its completely unfocused approach, horrible branding, and lack of any compelling games beyond Forza being announced. With the Xbox One, Microsof had the chance to utilize all that momentum from the Xbox 360 and to turn it into something good. Instead, we get a company that will almost certainly, judging by this conference, succumb to the fabled third console curse.

The Good:

They showed off the console, Kinect, and the controller (all three of which looked very impressive); the specs are great, and the multitasking looks incredible; Forza 5 was awesome looking, as always, and the Halo TV series genuinely intruiging.

The Bad:

Everything else: from the branding, to the lack of games, to the excessive focus on multimedia and TV, to the lack of any gameplay footage beyond Call of Duty, everything was wrong with this conference.

Conclusion:

When your reveal conference is worse than the legendarily bad Wii U and PS3 reveal conferences, you know you’ve screwed up. Microsoft screwed up.

Rating: 3.5/10


  • Pudgieluv

    Couldn’t agree more.. It was bad…

  • SONY

    As expected. Now give us more attention please. No more xbox news.

    Cowboys a.k.a Chuck Norris a.k.a hillbillies’ tech can’t beat ninja’s tech. Period.
    Slanted eyes are going to rule, powered by the Japanese giant.

    4 > 1

    SONY
    Make.Believe

    • NachoKingP

      That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve read today.

  • allan

    microsofts reveal was much better than sonys, they showed the actual console, thats an automatic win.

    • Inggrish

      A box instantly makes a reveal better? Fair enough.

  • Clive_Bixby

    They are saving games for E3 just like Sony is saving console and features for E3.

    And I think the name is clever, they can’t call it xbox 3 when there is a ps4 and obviously they can’t call it xbox 720.

  • Bob

    I wanted to see games, like the PS4 presentation, but instead we got this “iPad” crap. I guess the stock market investors are mostly gamers too, Sony stock went 9% up right at the time of the live presentation.

    • Vera

      That because Sony at that moment announced they are seriously considering the breakup of Sony proposed by Daniel Loeb. Check Yahoo Finance if you don’t believe me.

  • disqus_MEo57WfFbf

    Not exactly sure who the “intended” audience for the XBox One reveal was, because it certainly wasn’t us gamers.

    M$ has a history of telling you want you want though, so I’m not totally surprised. This time, considering what we know about the PS4 and now the XBox 360-359, M$ might learn that it’s a strategy they’ve gone to the well with one too many times.

    I’m wondering though…is this how you exit the gaming hardware business without explicitly saying so?

  • DudeBro1990

    Seriously. You have no idea what you are talking about.

    The conference was the XBOX REVEAL…not the Xbox Games Line up. Microsoft has stated many times now…This was for the console, and E3 is for the games. So the fact that you expected games galore, is your own fault. Microsoft even announced that they will have 15 exclusive games coming to The One in its first year. So all you people that complain that Microsoft only has the same line up, can now sit back and shut your mouths.

    Xbox One is not a bad name, and if you really think people are going to get confused, you are dumb.

    People like you have no business calling yourself a gaming journalist. You have no idea what you are talking about. You like many other gamers fail to accept that times have changed, and the days of just having a game console is gone.

    • Inggrish

      You sound mad bro.

    • John

      It’s standard – he’s an xbot fanboy!

    • DudeBro1990

      I own 360, Wii, Wii U, PS3, and will be buying PS4 and Xbox One. So please just shut up

    • John

      No one would know that from reading your previous comment! 15 exclusives, NONE of which were shown except forza. They showed NO gameplay for a reveal of a games console, it was more of a TV and function presentation. And yeah those 15 ex…. only 8 are new IPs and more than half will probably be xbl and kinect titles dude. We will see more at E3, but I expect NOT to be surprised ONE BIT, as per usual. All I wanna know is – how is PS+ gonna work, the cost of PS4, how does it look, and what’s the deal with the games.

    • bumper

      Every fanboy says that. Sheesh; mix it up a little.

  • LargerCake

    Sony is desperate, Microsoft didnt show off the games so they can finish and hype them more. i love their approach and the writer of this article is a hard core gamer, but maybe a little too hard.

    • Joseph Delahanty

      Desperate because ps3 dominating 360 everywhere but USA and UK or desperate because ps3 sold almost same amount of systems in year less time than 360?

    • John

      LargerCake is retarded – don’t bother casting your pearls before swine!

  • NachoKingP

    I actually am VERY excited about the multimedia features. Of course my 360 is my primary games system, but they said a number of times that this conference wasn’t a games reveal, it was a console features reveal. I’m VERY impressed with the work Microsoft did for this new console, and I can’t wait for E3!

  • guest

    Wtf?? This was Xbox reveal!! Not E3, you idiot didn’t know that? The games Sony showed were running on mock up system not even actual ps4 hardware unlike Xbox which cod ghosts was running on, E3 will be the real games reveal, what an idiot!!

    • John

      Dude – the conference was enough to show that xbox is no longer about gaming or gamers, but rather ‘entertainment’! Xbox showed absolutely nothing – they had to get activision to demo COD to try and make it a success (they still failed)! In no way were microsoft ready for this conference at all! And u do not know for a fact that the many games Sony showed were not running on the system. And even if they weren’t how does that even make a difference – we all know that the games on it are gonna be amazing!

    • Benjamin Ibbetson

      It’s is technically possible to be about games AND other forms of entertainment. I know that’s a radical idea. Just throwing it out there.

  • William Bradley Hannon

    Do you have an editor? You bungled your way through this article.

  • Miryks

    Amen!!! This article is spot on! I appreciate the multimedia features, but that should be secondary focus for a GAMNG console. I was hoping the focal point would be how the gaming experience would change and/or be enhanced for single player as well as multi-player platforms. Whether or not they are ‘holding back’ the games for announcement at E3 is not a point of contention, however, I sense they are either more interested in the concept of making the Xbox One a Microsoft Cablebox, or they don’t have anything more outstanding than what they have already created in the Xbox 360, which is a tough act to follow.

    • Benjamin Ibbetson

      But they have decided that it’s not just a gaming console and presented it as such. I’m sorry it’s not exactly what you wanted. It is what it is.

      I just hope they deliver on the exclusive games they mentioned. then we get a multimedia machine AND gaming console. Best of both worlds. Yes please!

  • John

    Absolutely TERRIBLE and underwhelming conference! The new box looks like a Playstation, and the conference itself reminded me of the PS3 reveal, just shorter and way less games! Sure all the TV stuff is cool, but what family is gonna buy that?! Kids wanna play Galo, Daddy wants to watch NFL, they no longer have a cable box because the xbox is it, so wtf do you do now?! And how will the TV service work outside the US? And how exactly do they plan to launch the box in Europe with IE and out antitrust laws? France is gonna sue them again! I could go on ALL day with the problems with the conference and box but I wont. But I will say this; Xbox is no longer about gaming, not at all, the xbox brand is now about entertainment! Games have now taken a back step with everything else taking a forward one. If you’re looking for a console dedicated to games and gamers, the xbox is NOT the way to go.

    • Benjamin Ibbetson

      Microsoft is a large company. Are you saying it’s impossible that it can’t have good games and all the multimedia features?

      I can see exactly where this fits together in the family home, Xbox games and sports for dad, kinect for kids and easily accessed and unified multimedia for the whole family.

      Is xbox just about the games anymore? no. Does this mean they have forgotten about gamers? If they deliver on the 15 exclusives and 8 new franchises then no they haven’t.

      PS4 has positioned itself as a pure gaming machine. Great! Xbox is positioning itself as a gaming AND multimedia machine. Why is this a bad thing? They are a big enough company with the resources to pull it off and it will only broaden their potential market. We potentially get something that is more than just a console. As long as those games they mentioned arrive, I see no downside.

    • John

      Dude, I’ll bet u ANYTHING half or more of those new exclusives that are not already franchises, will be xbl and kinect games dude! Seriously, M$ track record of exclusives is pretty fucking poor! Two of their supposed biggest new IPs Alan Wake and Too Human were some of the biggest flops ever for their budget! Regardless, yes the PS4 is more gamer focused, but really, its also a multimedia device just like the PS3 is! I remember when the PS3 came out M$ were like, this is not about gaming bla blah BULLSHITE, and now they go and do the same anyways (they’re 8 years late). And tell me exactly, how is this a family console? EVEN if a family was stupid enough to buy two, you cannot even play the same games on it, so what the fuck am I supposed to do when I wanna play cod, and my bros are watching the footie ay? Now if I could stream TV upstairs, and my bro play downstairs at the same time – NOW you’re fucking talking, but you can’t so it’s fucking moot mate.

    • Benjamin Ibbetson

      I’m pretty sure that most normal people are capable of sharing a main living room TV and even (shock horror) do use it together. The fact is, if it works the way Microsoft have described, then it provides some form of multimedia for every member of the family and some that they can all enjoy together. In no way, shape or form is that a moot point. Families watch movies, TV and music; young children enjoy kinect (My kids love it); many people enjoy games. Then theres skype, internet explorer, not to mention it uses the windows API so they can take advantage of any apps.

      Let’s not forget that the most common image of a gamer nowadays (I forget the survey that found this, but it’s floating around on the internet somewhere) is a late twenties, early thirties male with a wife and two kids. The Xbox One, to me, seems designed to appeal to that demographic, not to the ‘core’ gamer who spends 90%+ of there time on the console, solely gaming. For that type of person, yes, the new features of the Xbox One are going to be met with ambivalence at best, but then those features were never intended for them.

      The other thing is many households do have more than one console. I have 3 Xboxes, Playstation 3 and a Wii in my house (5 people live here), all used by different people, so yes families will be ‘stupid’ enough to buy two.

      I get what you are saying about the games though. They have often included arcade games when they quote how many ‘exclusives’ they have, but that’s why I said, ‘as long as those games they mentioned arrive’. We’ve yet to see what they have up their sleeve in that respect.

      IF all the the features work well, IF they are married as well as they described and IF we get the games they’ve promised, the Xbox One will provide an awful lot to anyone who isn’t just interested in games.

  • KuchikiSentou
  • JAFFMAN

    The Playstation Plus Content alone this last year rates above this reveal!!

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