Xbox One pairs expanded service with high prices, wages against competitors
In November 2001, Microsoft released the Xbox. As a powerful, innovative system, the console competed well with the Nintendo GameCube and Sony’s Playstation 2. The Xbox 360 only furthered this standard, with hi-res graphics and seamless accessibility being touted alongside decent, exclusive game titles. But while the Xbox One – set to be released later this month – aims to continue the tradition, the advances may prove off-putting to long-time fans and consumers.
Xbox One’s advantages are very much par for the course, especially for 2013. The system runs on 8 GB of memory (as opposed to 512 MB on the original 360) and the split-screen capability is improved for multiplayer gaming. Microsoft has also included the Kinect motion-sensor device by default, voiding an additional purchase previously required for the “Just Dance” series and similar titles. The environment is allegedly cleaner than its predecessors, and cloud storage and a built-in Skype client give some leeway for consumers wanting to purchase the console for more than gaming.
But with Sony’s Playstation 4 having been released around the same time, the Xbox One has drawbacks and disadvantages that should be considered before a purchase is made. Like the PS4, the console has no backwards compatibility, which is a complete turn-off for nostalgic types unwilling to give up copies of “Halo” or “Dead Space” in favor of brand-new and pricey titles. At $499, it’s also $100 more than its competitor, which prompts a wait for a drop in price – an unwritten rule for most gamers. But an expanded Xbox Live service and the idea of better storage may make up for its expensive rate.
The most off-putting “feature” of the Xbox One is the built-in Kinect device. While it was optional for the previous console, the mechanism is not only included by default, but it must be turned on at all times. Since the Kinect is a sensor-like device that registers properties like movement and heart rate, the idea of it being constantly active gives the system a Big Brother vibe. Though Microsoft may have the best of intentions, it’s possible that later developments could lead to hacking Kinects, which would be akin to the webcam-hacking that currently takes place through personal computers.
Given the characteristics boasted by ads and unveiled at cons, the Xbox One seems like it’s designed for hardcore gamers. As a casual consumer who engages in downloaded games and takes advantage of the Xbox Live service for Netflix and Hulu, it’s difficult to justify spending an entire paycheck on the Xbox One. But for those willing to shell out the cash – or play “Assassin’s Creed IV” until their eyes plummet into their sockets – it might be a wise choice. But, as with any new console, buyer beware: do research, wait for bug fixes and weigh the options.