Why Microsoft's Xbox One Will Win the Console War : IGN Blog
Why Microsoft's Xbox One Will Win the Console War - Blog by akextra - IGN
Eight years after the launch of the Xbox 360, Microsoft is finally on the verge of launching its successor, the Xbox One. A potentially exciting time for Microsoft has turned into an absolute PR disaster, but in a surprise move to win back some support, Microsoft decided to reverse their unpopular policies on the 24-hour internet connection checks and rules regarding sharing games. Despite the overwhelming support for Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft is not out of the f!ght just yet. There’s no doubt that Sony has the edge in terms of consumer support right now, but this f!ght will rage on for years to come.
Part gaming console, part entertainment hub, Microsoft is attempting to take over your living room — and that’s exactly why they’ll come out on top of the console war when the dust has settled. Some of you may be thinking that this premature proclamation of victory for Microsoft’s Xbox One months before it is even available on the market is absurd, but expanding their audience will be the catalyst to victory. They’ve evolved far beyond the traditional gaming console model, and their forward thinking will pay off as the Xbox One gradually a.sserts itself as the top choice in houses across the world.
Living rooms have typically been dominated by televisions, so it only makes sense that Microsoft aims to completely integrate the Xbox One into it. From playing your Blu-Ray movies to watching TV, Microsoft is attempting to place the Xbox One at the center of your home entertainment. Using an HDMI port for the cable TV pass-through, your Xbox will be connected directly to your set-top box. But it’s more than just an extension of your cable box — it’s meant to be all that and more.
So what reason would you have to use the Xbox One’s program guide overlay? One word: Kinect. Microsoft’s prized toy is going to be bundled with every console, and it may very well be the best addition to the Xbox One. Aside from the obvious applications for gaming, the voice and motion controls could potentially change the way you watch TV. Say goodbye to the days of fumbling around looking for your remote. Instead, you can just command the Kinect to switch channels by voice or use gestures to browse through the channel guide.
If using the Kinect to watch TV doesn’t sound all that enticing to you, keep in mind that it’s just one function in a vast array of features available to you. It’s a powerful device that’s just scratching the surface of its immense potential, and this technology is the next logical step in the progression of home entertainment. As the success of the Nintendo Wii proved, the future of gaming is not tied to buttons and joysticks. People want to enhance their levels of gaming with a more immersive experience, and Microsoft is looking to continue building on that with the next iteration of Kinect.
As developers continue to tap into the power of the Kinect, gamers will soon start to realize that it’s more than just a gimmick or fancy motion tracking camera. From simple gestures to voice control, the Kinect will be able to augment gaming like never before. It will act as an extension of your controller, giving you options that would otherwise not be available. Microsoft demoed some of the possibilities developers will be able to add, such as leaning to one side to dodge, tapping your temple to bring up X-Ray vision or calling out orders to squad mates. These examples sound quite simple, but as developers start to further utilize this technology in their games, we’ll start to see more clever and innovative integration.
Then there’s Microsoft’s IllumiRoom technology. While it’s still under development, Microsoft’s proof-of-concept demonstration at CES teased the amazing potential behind their new projector technology. The ability to extend the limits of your TV screen and project all sorts of new elements onto the space around your TV will take gaming to another level.
The PlayStation Eye, Sony’s answer to the Kinect, is actually a separate device priced at $59, and it doesn’t even come close to touching the capabilities of the Kinect. The Playroom concept PlayStation demoed looks comical in comparison to what the Kinect is capable of, and when you consider the gap between the Kinect and the Eye, the Xbox One’s price point doesn’t look all that bad. While Microsoft is forcing the Kinect on you, considering all of the features it offers, it’s a bargain compared to the PlayStation Eye.
Interestingly enough, according to a recent report, the PlayStation 4 initially included the Eye and was priced at $499, but they opted to cut the device in favor of undercutting Microsoft. It seems that Microsoft’s decision to bundle the next Kinect is one of the main reasons for the $100 price difference, and while it may be a tough sell in the early going, the appeal of the Kinect is sure to eventually convince those on the fence to hop on over.
Ars Technica recently did a study, and adjusting the price for inflation, the Xbox One is actually priced reasonably when compared to other consoles. Also of interest is that “higher priced systems tend to drop more quickly and more sharply than those launched at lower prices, which slowly taper down over the years.” So while that price drop won’t come for a few years, when it does come and the Xbox One ecosystem is more fully realized, consumers may have an easier choice deciding then.
All that money is being put toward good use. Microsoft certainly didn’t skimp on the hardware used to power all of those apps and games, but the PlayStation 4 still has the edge in specs. The power of the cloud and ability to offload some of the processes server side are constantly being touted by Microsoft, but it’s still unclear how much power developers will have at their disposal to actually augment the processing power of the Xbox One. However, even taking into consideration the current spec sheet, the Xbox One isn’t that far behind. Aside from some PlayStation 4 exclusive content that may push the boundaries of the hardware, the graphics probably won’t be monumentally different from one console to the next. The Xbox One will at least be competitive in the graphics department, and that may be enough for most consumers.
It’s no wonder that Sony loaded the PlayStation 4 with some serious processing power: They appear to be focused on giving consumers the ultimate gaming experience. They’re playing it safe by catering to the user base that has supported them for so long, but in this day and age, focusing on a gaming market that’s expanded outside of the living room and into more casual, on-the-go games on mobile phones and tablets is not a winning proposition.
In the end, the gamers will flock to whoever has the best games. The initial reveal of the Xbox One received a mixed reception, but Microsoft switched gears and came out swinging with an impressive, non-stop barrage of tantalizing games at E3. Their lineup was simply jaw dropping, and even the biggest critics of the Xbox One couldn’t help but at least be intrigued by exclusive Xbox One titles such as Titanfall, Quantum Break and Ryse. Microsoft’s war chest is deep, and they’re going all out to secure exclusive content that even the most stubborn gamers that oppose the Xbox One can’t ignore.
All of the hardware and toys that make up the Xbox One certainly sound nice, but they would be nothing without the software that powers it. What brings all of this together is the custom version of Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor — their virtual machine monitor that is used to run multiple operating systems — which will have the Xbox OS and Windows kernel running over it. While the Xbox OS handles all your gaming needs, the Windows kernel will take care of all of your apps, which allows for seamless transitions between the two operating systems.
The multitasking aspect alone of the Xbox One’s dual-OS setup should be a huge draw, and it only helps Microsoft to get one step closer to being your all-in-one home entertainment platform. It pushes the term couch potato to a whole new level, bringing everything right to your fingertips. Want to continue watching that video while you Skype? Go right ahead. Need to find a walkthrough for a particularly challenging game? Bring up a guide on Internet Explorer and follow along as you play. You never have to leave the comfort of your couch because Microsoft has conveniently bundled all of it for you in one package.
While gamers will always play a pivotal role in determining the success of a console, they no longer dictate the narrative. Thanks in large part to the Nintendo Wii, consoles have made an even deeper push into family entertainment territory, pushing out the archaic board games that have dominated that arena for so long. Simply put, the Xbox One offers far more features that will attract a wider audience. Which console do you think that housewife will want? The one that she can easily do yoga or zumba with at home or the one that focuses mainly on games? How about that dad that wants to watch some NFL games while he follows along with his fantasy football team?
Sony may have won the first battle for public opinion with Microsoft, but they’ll need more than that if they hope to win the long-term war for consumers. If the current console cycle is any indication, keep in mind that this battle that will likely drag out over the next decade. Microsoft is hedging their bets on long-terms gains, and they offer more bang for your buck. The gamers are in Sony’s corner right now, but will they be enough to turn the fortunes around of a division that’s been hemorrhaging money for years and give them the winning edge? Don’t count on it.