It wasn’t long after Microsoft first revealed the Xbox One, it’s next-generation entertainment console that users first started to complain.
Before launch, the complaints centered on the rumored changes Microsoft might be forcing down users throats. Originally, any Xbox One game would have needed to be installed completely on the console’s hard drive. Microsoft shared that news without filling users in on the details. It eventually found itself accused of trying to destroy used games sales.
Next came the company’s policy towards making sure users owned those games after they’d been installed. Microsoft originally wanted to require that Xbox One owners connect to Xbox One once every twenty-four hours so that the console itself could check to see if a particular user owned that specific game. At the time Microsoft planned to allow users to loan digital games to their friends and family members.
Both issues were solved just before launch, and as Microsoft couldn’t stop saying at last week’s E3 2014 Xbox Media Briefing, the console on store shelves today reflects all of that early feedback from potential Xbox One buyers.
Those two things and a few more were all legitimate issues that should have had Xbox One buyers worried. Now, seven months after launch, new issues are cropping up all the time. To be clear, these aren’t issues in the sense that the Xbox One is unusable, just things that users who don’t have an Xbox One point to as making the console not worth the cost of admission. Unfortunately, they don’t all make sense.
You Can’t Talk to an Xbox One Without Kinect
This one is a very new problem created by Microsoft’s initial decision to bundle the Kinect 2 sensor with every Xbox One console. To be more precise, the problem stems from Microsoft’s original vision for the Xbox One. Microsoft didn’t intend for the Xbox One and Kinect 2 sensor to be separate items. In an ideal world the two would have been collectively known as the Xbox One.
Unfortunately, plans don’t always work out in the way companies intend. On June 9th Microsoft began selling the Xbox One without a Kinect 2 sensor so that it could hit the same $399 price tag of Sony’s PS4. In theory, educated buyers who want voice control, gesture support and the option to watch live television using the Xbox One’s OneGuide will purchase the $499 Xbox One + Kinect Bundle, or what’s usually just referred to as the Xbox One.
Now, reports are surfacing that users are purchasing the $399 Xbox One and expecting it to control their television with it. That is impossible due to the microphone array voice functionality requires being built into the Kinect 2 sensor and not the console itself.
This isn’t complicated. It’s simple. Microsoft doesn’t need to redesign the Xbox One or introduce some new microphone accessory and third-party microphone support. Microsoft already has a solution for users who want to control their Xbox One with their voice. Users who want Kinect voice functionality need to purchase the $499 Xbox One + Kinect bundle.
The Xbox One Needs More Power
Last summer there was a lot of talk about the resolution native Xbox One and PS4 games would run at. The thinking goes that the higher the resolution the console runs at, plus the frames it displays per second it’s able to output to user’s televisions directly correlates to how realistic a game looks. That much is true.
What this comparison has morphed into is a war of words between Xbox One fans and users who think everyone should pick up a PS4 instead.
Game resolution matters, better looking games are one of the hallmarks by which we measure each new console generation. That much hasn’t changed and will never change. That being said, no normal Xbox One buyer, no casual gamer will decide to not pick up an Xbox One to play with their friends and family because they’ll see a bit more shadows on the PS4 version of the same game.
If users based console buying decisions on resolution and powerful hardware alone, the PS3 would have outsold the Xbox 360 2-to-1. It didn’t because at some point, good enough is just that, good enough.
The Xbox One Doesn’t Focus On Gaming Enough
Finally, there’s the motto that Xbox One nay-sayers have leveled at Microsoft since it introduced the original Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360. Over the last few years Microsoft has introduced new services and products under the Xbox branding.
The core parts of Microsoft’s Zune music and video service became the Xbox Music and Xbox Video. Roughly a year ago Microsoft hired television executive Nancy Tellum to lead Xbox Entertainment Studios, a video production company that sounds as if it’s intended to rival Netflix’s original programming and make Xbox Live a video content destination.
Naturally, these services and others like OneDrive are included in the Xbox One because that’s what makes sense, but some are treating this as irrefutable evidence that Microsoft has abandoned gaming. From where sane users sit that’s both wrong and overly dramatic. What Microsoft has done is spread the Xbox brand into other areas where its previous branding failed. It hasn’t necessarily decided to put more effort behind those things to the detriment of new Xbox One exclusive games.
The Xbox One includes these services plus things like Internet Explorer on Xbox and OneDrive because it makes sense to surface those services in the living room on its console. Complaining about the company doing so is like complaining about the iPhone having video support or the Apple TV being able to play podcasts from the iTunes Store.
Overall, the Xbox One is a decent product. It’ll evolve and transform over time. So too will gamers and entertainment lovers. In an ideal world complainers would save their outrage and vitriol for when bigger issues crop up like those requirements to check in online every that complaints forced Microsoft to gut.
The Xbox One is available on store shelves now beginning at $399 for the bundle that excludes the Kinect 2 sensor.