Where Did You Go? – The future Microsoft sees with the Xbox One
Authored by Williams Pelegrin
Where Did You Go? is an ongoing series that deals with mishappenings in the video game industry. This can range from concepts to the games themselves. Today, we look at the future Microsoft sees with the Xbox One.
Whenever discussing the future, I always like to think about change. Sure, people can get pretty uncomfortable when talking about change, but in the end, we’re told that it’s for our best, for the greater good.
During today’s Xbox One reveal, which you can read a summary of right here, Microsoft boasted loud and clear that the Xbox One is no longer just a video game console. No, sir! The Xbox One has finished the transformation its predecessor, the Xbox 360, started and has become an entertainment hub.
There’s only one problem with that: it’s an entertainment hub.
You see, by talking about the Xbox One today, Microsoft revealed a frankly terrifying thought to me: everything would be centered around that black box known as the Xbox One.
You want to Skype? Xbox One. Want to watch and record some television shows? Xbox One. Want to listen to music? Xbox One. Want to play some video games and talk with friends over Xbox Live? Xbox One.
Want to have everything packed into just one box? Xbox freaking One.
Let me make one thing clear: I do not hate the Xbox One. For all the controversial features it packs, it’s an impressive kit and it waits to be seen what developers can do with all that potential. With that in mind, while I commend Microsoft for sticking with a vision of the future, I don’t believe it’s the vision of the future, nor is it a road to my version of the inevitable future.
To throw it in here, my vision of the future eliminates the need for a console. Technology is advancing at such a breakneck speed that, soon, we won’t need such arbitrary hardware like consoles to deliver the immersive experiences we’re all used to with video game consoles. All we’ll need is a sophisticated network, some sort of screen, and a controller. That’s it.
This is where Sony did right with the PlayStation 4 event in New York City a few months ago. Sure, we didn’t see the actual PlayStation 4, but do you want to know what was even more impressive than any game shown off at the event? Sony’s vision of the future.
While Microsoft is preaching that people need to have this one-size-fits-all entertainment hub, Sony is preaching to a much different choir: the choir known as the cloud. This is where the video game industry, as well as entertainment in general, is headed.
You see, Sony, inevitably, will want you to just use a screen and a controller. Let me explain. Using what Sony has revealed about the PlayStation 4, users will simply sift through live video footage of your friends playing games. If you come across any game you want to play, simply press a button and then press another one to start playing. Remember that, with PlayStation 4, while the game is downloading, you can play them. Hell, with other games, you can just stream them!
Oh, you’re not close to your PlayStation 4? No problem, says Sony. As long as you have a PlayStation Vita, you can continue right where you left off. While the vision I have replaces the Vita with tablets and smartphones, nonetheless it’s a vision I can get behind only because, inevitably, Sony will sell PlayStation consoles that will be comprised of a screen and a controller. That’s it.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is strongly behind its “one device” philosophy with the Xbox One. Here is Microsoft’s future: simply say “Xbox On,” and not only will the Xbox One turn on, but your TV, Kinect, and receiver will turn on, as well. Want to consume content such as movies, music, and games? Thanks to the updated Kinect camera, it will scan your body and face, then sign you into your profile.
“Games surfing” on the PlayStation 4? Forget that. Actual channel surfing is where it’s at with the Xbox One. Want to instantly switch between watching TV and playing games, for example? Thanks to the underlying Windows 8 operating system, multitasking is a breeze. No need to change discs every time you want to play a different game, says the Xbox One. Just load up the games you stored inside of me!
For Microsoft, while there is some cloud functionality in terms of being able to play titles while they are installing, the main focus is your living room. All roads lead to your living room, says Microsoft. With Sony, all roads don’t go to your living room, but rather, to the cloud.
Before anyone brings it up, I don’t believe Microsoft’s Illumiroom is the answer. Yes, it is awesome, and yes, it can basically turn your living room into the holodeck, but why pin everything to the living room? With Sony’s vision, I can be immersed anywhere. With Microsoft’s vision, I can be immersed in one place.
People will have their preferences, and I understand that completely. Some people would rather be fully immersed in one place than immersed in different places. I understand the ecstasy that comes from being fully immersed. However, with convenience placed at the forefront, Microsoft’s vision all of a sudden seems to crack at the seams.
Then again, I could be totally wrong and Microsoft’s vision ends up being superior. The future is funny like that.