Two months ago, for the April Fools’ issue, I wrote a special edition of Sore Thumbs, covering a fake unveiling of the new Xbox, which I called the Xbox 5 (despite it being the third iteration of the console) and described as being fixated on its diverse array of multimedia features rather than games. Well, last week, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One (despite it being the third iteration of the console) at a media event in Seattle, which focused on the system’s diverse array of multimedia features rather than the games. This time, it’s no April Fools’ gag. The name of the next-gen console is a nod to Microsoft’s intention that the Xbox One be your all-in-one entertainment center, through which you Skype, browse the internet, listen to music, play blu-rays, watch TV and, if one is so inclined, play video games. Running with three separate processors simultaneously, Xbox One will allow users to “snap” from one application to the next instantaneously with a simple voice command.
Movies, music, and other saved content will be stored in the Cloud via Xbox Live which will be scaling up its servers from the current 15,000 to a whopping 300,000, to accommodate this new influx of digital media. Game data will also be stored in this fashion, and the games themselves will be installed onto the hard drive (much like PC games), without requiring the physical disc to be played. In the aftermath of the press conference, this revelation led to widespread concern in the Xbox community that these one-time-only installs, linked to personal Xbox Live accounts, would make renting games, reselling used games, and even the age-old practice of simply taking a game to your friend’s house a thing of the past. To assuage such concerns, Microsoft has since issued a press release stating that, “Reports about our policies for trade-in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete,” although no specifics have been given to increase the accuracy or completeness of those reports. Presumably, more information — including a price point and release date — will be given during the company’s E3 media briefing on June 10th.
A new version of Kinect will come packed with each Xbox One console. In fact, the console won’t function without the motion-sensing and voice recognition peripheral connected and activated. So, when in sleep mode, the console can be awakened with a voice command. An enhanced sensor will track up to six people’s movements simultaneously with greater accuracy than the original Kinect, and since the device can process two gigbits of environmental data per second, Kinect 2.0 promises to eliminate the delayed reactions to gestural commands that plagued its predecessor.
In contrast to Sony’s PS4 unveiling, which showcased a bevy of games while the hardware was a no-show, Xbox One’s unveiling revealed the console but suffered a dearth of software. EA Sports was on hand to show cut-scenes from all of its key sports franchises, but no gameplay. And the presentation ended with an extended trailer for “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” which pointed out improvements in graphics and lighting with side-by-side comparisons to previous “Call of Duty” games. But to see these games in action, we’ll have to wait for E3 in mid June. CV