While the launch of the Xbox One went poorly, and it did go pretty poorly if you judge by the consumer feedback, there has been enough response to the criticisms at this point that it’s a topic worth revisiting. Some of what has happened was definitely good in a few ways, but it also trades away some of the more interesting features we were promised from the start. On top of that we have a whole new set of potential complaints brewing.
Microsoft’s most profound change has been in the area of DRM. While originally they had gone completely digital in a way that reduced the physical game disc to installation media and made publishers happy, now they will be allowing the game disc to retain its traditional function as a portable bearer of complete content.
That does cause a few problems in other ways. They have eliminated the innovative new sharing features now that sharing will take place with a disc. That means no instant sharing across family accounts. That was only enabled, in theory, by the decrease in the used game market’s encroachment into sales. We’ll have to wait on the next system for anything new in that area, but Gamestop enthusiasts will be quite comfortable for the moment.
More importantly, no more daily checking in with Microsoft servers. Users with minimal internet access will be able to make the most of the Xbox One so long as a game allows. That, of course, means that developers will be unable to code their games to completely assume cloud resources are available. That’s a shame, but until universal internet access is more realistic this was obviously necessary.
The Kinect will still be a problem for marketing. While every console coming with the feature will make it more likely to be integrated by developers, we’re going to have to see some excellent implementations to make people think it’s worth the additional hardware costs.
That leaves the price question particularly important. The inclusion of the Kinect is what causes the Xbox One to be priced $100 higher than the Playstation 4, according to analysts. That’s going to play a huge role in sales, if the last generation console experience is anything to go by. Sony learned from their mistake, but it remains to be seen if Microsoft can make it work. At best it’s an uphill battle even with everything else excluded.
The big new twist comes on the advertising front. Microsoft intends to use the Kinect’s camera to better place ads. It will be possible to target users based on their physical profiles, create interactive ads that bring the message closer to home, and potentially even bring in more detailed analytics. If there was anything that needed to be done to bring attention to the possibly privacy breaches that the Kinect represented, this does it.
In the next few months we’re sure to see even more information drop about the new console. Hopefully the next few revelations are wholly blessings if Microsoft wants to keep their entry into the competition going strong.