So, Microsoft has released the new Xbox, the Xbox One. Is it the leap forward over the previous Xbox that it needs to be, or has Microsoft dropped the ball? I’m no expert, and can’t speak in great detail on it, but there were a few off-the-bat impressions I had on the announcement that I thought were great on the one hand but perplexing on the other.
I haven’t been an avid gamer, or any sort of gamer actually, since my teens. The only console I ever had was the original Nintendo NES which took massively-sized cartridges that were only 4-8 megabytes in size (how quaint!). I played games on the PC, but since my late teens when I started getting in to writing and filmmaking in a big way, I lost interest in playing Super Mario, Megaman, Dune II, Starcraft and Galaga. The only games I might play now are Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja or Bejewelled on my iPhone, and only in 5-10 minute bursts.
So why am I interested in writing about the Xbox One? Well to put it simply, the Xbox One aims to be more than just a gaming console. It’s aiming to be the main entertainment presence in the living room. Movies, TV, games, Internet and more; this new console is trying to do it all. This is hardly surprising given that these types of consoles or set-top boxes are becoming very prevalent in the living room, replacing DVD and Blu-ray players as they go. I may not be a gamer, but I do appreciate the ability of a plug-in box that can stream from the Internet and provide all your entertainment needs in one nice, elegant package.
This is why I find it perplexing that the “box” itself is so large and contains irrelevant technology. Why does it have a Blu-ray player? To play movies off disc? To load games that are still sold on disc? What about in 2-3 years’ time when this won’t be happening anymore? Then it becomes a cumbersome add-on that collects dust. Why is it so big when the trend for these devices, particularly ones that just have to plug in to the Internet and run off a tiny flash drive, to require so much physical real estate?
On the one hand, this Xbox is an advance, but on the other, it seems almost out-of-date at birth. Microsoft’s tendency to placate everyone may work against them here. They might have been better off dumping the old tech and blazing forward, but this isn’t really in Microsoft’s DNA. They service legacy technology for customers who don’t like change. However, putting a Blu-ray player into the Xbox is akin to putting a floppy disc drive in to a PC today. It also doesn’t make sense that old Xbox games aren’t compatible with the Xbox One, especially considering the inclusion of the Blu-ray drive.
The original Xbox lasted for a decade, and it appears that Microsoft is hoping the Xbox One will last just as long, with its inclusion of present day and future technologies. But in today’s rapidly moving technological world, it is unfathomable to think that a device that is introduced today could last even five years. If Microsoft wants the Xbox console to go on and succeed, it will need to update it more frequently, and given the design of the Xbox One, that update may need to be sooner rather than later.