Last Updated on May 10, 2021 by Danielle
Microsoft unveiled its next generation Xbox- the Xbox One at a press event held in Redmond, Washington. Though no specific date and price was announced, Xbox One will be launching around the world later this year. The event was held just weeks before E3. After months of rumors, gaming journalists, gamers, and tech fanatics were anxious to see what Microsoft was going to show. Earlier in the year, Sony showed off the Playstation 4 to much fanfare.
The event got off to a strong start with Microsoft telling gamers that they have always been at the center of the Xbox experience. Microsoft promised to change gaming again. They asked us to imagine a world where we had a relationship with our television. This new vision represents a bold new direction for the company. The Xbox One is not being marketed as just a gaming box. Microsoft has designed it to be at the heart of your living room entertainment.
Xbox Spokeperson, Don Mattrick, took the stage, introducing the world to the new Xbox saying, “Games will look and feel like nothing else and all your entertainment will come alive in one place.” With the first Xbox, Microsoft took a chance on connecting gamers with Xbox Live and they succeeded. The Xbox 360 introduced gamers to High Definition graphics. Kinect allowed us to be the controller. All these innovations, allowed Microsoft to catapult to the top of the pack.
The Living Room Has Changed
The new Xbox was created to meet the changing demands of consumers. Mattrick told the crowd the living room has changed asking, “Can we take what you love and make it better.” The new console promises to connect devices in the living room and give developers more power, bringing together games, TV, and entertainment. Mattrick revealed that the new console would be called the Xbox One, promising it would be simple, instant, complete and cloud powered. It remains to be seen if Microsoft’s gamble pays off. With more ways to watch television and content is there really a need for watching live television. Smart phones, iPads and other smart devices are changing the way we watch television. The number of people watching traditional TV is declining.
Video Game Console Designed Like Set Top Box
Unlike Sony, Microsoft chose to show the new console on stage. The console comes with an updated HD version of Kinect, a new more precise controller, and the console itself. The console is a lot larger and rectangular shaped than previous consoles. It doesn’t look like a traditional video game machine and instead looks like a VCR or set top box.
Microsoft Goes Beyond Gaming
Microsoft’s vision with the Xbox One was more than just gaming, it was to transform television. Yusif Mehdi, Corporate Vice President Of Marketing & Strategy, was brought on stage to demonstrate the new entertainment features unique to the console. The new Xbox is set up to connect all of your entertainment from games, movies, music, live TV, and the web. Microsoft also announced Skype for Xbox One. In addition to a High Definition image, you will also be able to use Skype with a group.
Say “Xbox On” and the Kinect will recognize your face and log you in. From the “Home” screen you can navigate to all of your entertainment from games to music to movies. The interface will remember what you were doing previously. You can also see what is trending and popular in the Xbox Community or within your friends.
Microsoft is also attempting to simplify TV and making it more intelligent. Microsoft showed off its voice controlled television guide called OneGuide. With simple voice commands, you can change inputs and instantly switch between them. In addition to the gestures you already know, Microsoft is creating new gestures to help users navigate through their content. For example, using a grab and pan motion, you and squeeze the screen and return to the home screen. Though the demonstration was extremely smooth, IGN reports that voice commands weren’t real time and instead controlled by a clicker.
The built in Xbox guide allows users to use voice commands, favorites, and trends to find the shows they want to watch. Microsoft says you don’t need your remote control anymore. With favorites, users can easily keep track of the shows they watch. The trending category allows users to find out the most popular shows in the Xbox community.The Xbox One will not have its own Live TV service. Instead, it will work using an HDMI pass through with your current cable or satellite provider.
Taking a page from Windows 8, they also introduced Snap Mode for the Xbox. This allows users to view multiple programs on their television. Users can also use their smart device as a remote control.
Hoping to solidify the Xbox One as a entertainment platform, a new Halo live action Television series by Stephen Speilberg and 343 Industries was announced. Microsoft also announced a partnership with the NFL to create exclusive and interactive content on the Xbox One. It is going to be easier to play Fantasy Football while watching the game thanks to the new Xbox and Smart Glass. Sports players will love how the fantasy league app integrates with sports television. With a simple command you can bring up the app alongside the game.
Hardware And Software
Marc Whitten came out to show what drives the technology behind the Xbox One. With Xbox One, Microsoft has a more power system architecture. They have improved all the input devices from the controller to Kinect to Smart Glass.Xbox Live has been improved thanks to the power of cloud computing.
The Xbox One is equipped with the latest hardware technology featuring 5 billion transitors, 8GB RAM, USB 3.0. Blu Ray, and a 64 bit architecture.
Microsoft has taken their core competencies and built a sophisticated operating system to power the new console, combining 3 Operating systems to give life to the Xbox One. It is built on the Xbox Operating system, kernel of windows, and an OS that bridges the two systems together. It enables everything to be smooth.
Improvements To Input Devices
Microsoft has made improvements to all the input devices: Kinect, the controller, and Smart Glass.
Kinect has seen a big improvement and now is paired with the system from the get go. The Kinect sensor is now 1080P with a wider field of view. Kinect will recognize more joints in the skeleton and even the orientations of them. This means we will finally get wrist and shoulder movement. With the new fidelity it can understand balance, transfer of weight, and muscle contractions. It can even measure your heart beat. Kinect responds to you, your voice, and movements. Kinect is now more accurate that it can record movement every 14 Billionths of a second, which translates to 2 gigabits of data per second.
Microsoft has taken their well received controller and added a number of enhancements. While it looks mostly the same, it more ergonomic now with an integrated battery. The trigger buttons now have feedback. Even the d-pad has been improved.
Smart Glass was unveiled last year and was a way for the Xbox to talk to your smart devices. Now since it is built into the system on day one, it is more seamlessly integrated.
All these devices work together to create an experience without lag.
Xbox Live Now Cloud Powered
Xbox Live will retain the same membership fees but will be more powerful and offer greater personalization. Right now there are 30,000 servers powering Xbox Live, Microsoft will set up over 300,000 servers from the new Xbox. With the added computing power, you will be able to store all your content from the cloud. Gamers now get a DVR to save videos from their game and share them with the community.
The Xbox One can be made more powerful if game developers take advantage of the power of cloud computing.
Andrew Wilson from Electronic Arts took the stage to talk about EA’s new engine for creating next generation games called EA Sports Ignite. EA has four games in development for the Xbox One: Fifa 14, Madden NFL, NBA LiVe 14, and UFC. They are promising a new level of human intelligence, more animation, and worlds that are more alive. EA will bring exclusive content to the Xbox One with the Ultimate Mode in Fifa 14. Then EA showed a prerendered trailer of the new games with in game assets to give us an idea of what the games will look like.
Phil Spencer from Microsoft Studios talked about Xbox One’s content strategy. He told gamers to expect more innovative games and their favorite franchises updated with the power of the new Xbox. Then he showed off Turn 10 Studio’s Forza 5 running on the Xbox One. The game will be available on launch day. Unfortunately, we were only shown replay footage. However, the lighting effects were considerably more realistic. You could see the light peaking in to the interior of the car. The cars were so detailed that you could see paint chips when the camera zoomed in close.
Then we were shown a new trailer from Remedy, the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake. The new game is called Quantum Break. The trailer showed a live action television drama mixed with game play. The video showed a huge ship that crashed into a crumbling bridge. It is unknown from the trailer how these separate elements fit together.
One of the biggest gaming franchises is coming to the Xbox One- a new Call Of Duty game. Eric Hirshberg, the president of Activision, showed of the new trailer for Call Of Duty: Ghost. Activision showed a side by side comparison of the new game vs the old game. Meshes will be more detailed and environments will support volumetric lighting, more polys, and shadowing. They worked with the Academy Award winner of Traffic, Stephen Gaghan, on the story. It is powered by a new engine. As players get closer to object, the meshes get more detailed to maintain curvature. The game will feature dynamic maps. Even with all the new tech, the game runs at 60 frames per second.
We will see 15 exclusive games on the Xbox One platform in the first year.
Questions And Concerns
Microsoft demonstrated their vision to create an integrated television and gaming experience. We were left asking: Who is Microsoft aiming the device at? It’s clearly designed like a set top box so perhaps Microsoft is looking beyond the gamer. What they showed at the conference was a set top box that can also do games. Since the console doesn’t offer its own programming, the media features particularly the live TV can’t stand on their own. We would have liked to see an alternative to satellite and cable with a more robust pricing strategy. Gamers might have been a little disappointed that the conference focused mostly on the entertainment aspects of the new console. Microsoft said that we will see a new generation of gaming but we have to wait until E3 to find out more about it.
Although Microsoft answered a lot of questions, there are a lot of unanswered questions. We were not told what the price would be. There seems to be a question whether or not the device has to be connected always to the Internet. We understand now that it must check in once every 24 hours. Microsoft didn’t address backward compatibility so we assume that the system isn’t backward compatible. Microsoft still has not answered how used games will work on the console, generating a lot of controversy. Because the system requires you to install games to memory, will there be a charge to install a used game? Microsoft issued a statement that the reports released thus far are “inaccurate and incomplete.”
Perhaps Microsoft will answer these questions at E3.