I have a confession to make, I like TV. I also almost never buy used games and my internet connection is (mostly) always on with 30 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. But reading some of the heavy-handed policies Microsoft laid out regarding the Xbox One didn't sit right with me, for a few reasons. I'm not the only one, gamers have been furious about the impending changes that are happening to video game licensing this next generation. After multiple half-hearted attempts to gain control of the narrative, Microsoft finally released a page on their website with all of the new licensing changes. They aren't as bad as some feared initially but they do tighten up control publishers have with regards to who gets to play the game and how compared to prior consoles. With that said lets go over what Microsoft can do to bring some excitement back to the XBox One.
If there is anything Microsoft needs to do more than anything is talk about games! I'm not talking about games from Activision & EA that both consoles will get anyway, I'm talking exclusives. Show gamers why they would be missing out if they didn't purchase an Xbox One. The word is Microsoft is investing $1Billion into their 1st Party studios for this generation. Let's hope so because outside of Halo, Fable, Gears or War, and Forza their 1st Party titles have been pretty lackluster in the past few years on the XBox 360.
In their first event they showed off an interesting game titled Quantum Break that looked very interesting. It seemed to be a mix of a live action TV show and a video game, could be promising. I'm also expecting to see more of Forza and something regarding a new Halo would definitely do a lot to soothe those used game wounds. There has been talk of Rare working on a new title as well, Killer Instinct? Banjo Kazooie? We also know the guys that started and left Infiniti Ward to start Respawn Games are making an Mech-shooter called "TitanFall" that's exclusive to Xbox One. Microsoft said they have 15 exclusive titles coming Xbox One in the next year, 8 of those being new IP's. I don't expect to see all of those at E3, but if they were to show gameplay of a couple new games that are farther in development while teasing a few others, I think it would energize a lot of the faithful and get them back on board.
I don't believe Microsoft should open their event talking about this but maybe somewhere in the middle they should address the DRM, 24 hr internet check issue. It doesn't have to be extremely apologetic, just a clear understanding on why they felt the need to do it and what, if any benefits would come from it. PC games has been this way for years and no one complains. Mainly because older games can be found on sale for great prices so the benefits of buying used games kind of goes away. All users have access to the games installed on your console and you can sign into any Xbox One and play any of your games, just like Steam. In the info Microsoft put out about licensing there was a mention of having up to 10 family members capable of accessing all of your games from any Xbox One as well. This could be an interesting loop hole to letting friends borrow games, hopefully we'll get some specifics on that as well.
In regards to the Xbox One needing to be online, this is one of my biggest complaints with the system. It automatically excludes a large swath of people around the world out of gaming. Robust internet connections are not prevalent or reliable everywhere, especially in rural areas and a lot of parts of the world. I'm sure Microsoft ran the numbers and determined that a majority of their customers were online and those that weren't were expendable. That kind of logic is a bit worrisome, being that there are a number of use cases where a user won't have access to the internet all the time but wants to play that $60 single player game they bought. The main reason for the 24 hr checks is to stop piracy and to enforce the new licensing restrictions that have been put in place. With that said, cheating/hacking has been a problem for the Xbox 360 in some popular online titles and it will be nice to have that squashed. If Microsoft can explain all of this clearly while laying out the benefits it could do a lot to calm some of the negative feedback they've got in the past 2 weeks.
Speaking of being online, Microsoft mentioned that developers will have the opportunity to use their servers to process some of their games physics and AI. I'd like to hear more of that and maybe even be shown some examples of how this would work. The problem I see is that most 3rd party developers won't dedicate the time to use it unless the results are easily achievable with little work on the dev side. It may be relegated to 1st party titles only, which wouldn't be such a bad thing if Microsoft really brings those 15 new exclusives in a year.
I'd like to know how much Xbox Live will cost monthly/yearly as well as what does that subscription come with. Will Microsoft make basic online play free this generation? Not likely, as that is part of the allure of Xbox Live in the first place. Will I still be able to take advantage of all of the TV features if I don't subscribe to Xbox Live. Do I have to have a cable subscription to take advantage of the TV features and are there any deals in place with cable providers to ensure I have a cable box with HDMI-CEC support? There has been rumors for over a year that Microsoft would bring a Platinum Xbox Live membership, maybe we'll see something announced that correlates to the "premium" TV content they're bringing to XBox like the new Halo TV series.
I was really excited about the XBox One prior to their first press conference, I'm hoping their E3 event can convince me to buy one. Sony has a lot of momentum going into to E3 but all of that could go away if they announce a similar DRM strategy for the PS4. There are very high stakes for both companies this generation as both are counting on their new consoles to bring energy and excitement to their other products.
What can Microsoft do to win you over at E3 this year? What are you expecting?