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Published on December 16th, 2014 | by Joseph Saulnier

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What Microsoft Did Right With The Xbox One

The Kinect is no longer a gimmick. I know that many never felt it was, but
for some out there it seemed like just a way to sell more Xbox 360s. Which
is partly true. I wonder if Microsoft ever knew how big this thing would
become, and in meaningful ways not connected to the Xbox brand.

Getting back on subject, the Kinect is actually useful, but just not in the
gaming sense. The voice recognition is nothing short of amazing, and is
extremely adaptable. I really didn’t see myself using it very much, even
to the point of debating buying the bundle with the Kinect, but I am so
glad I did. There’s nothing cooler to a sci-fi geek like myself than being
able to walk in the room and say “Xbox On” and watch the Kinect come to
life as it turns on my TV, and the Xbox One automatically sets itself to
Watch TV (the default function can be changed in settings). Not just do
that, but I can tell my Xbox to tune to HBO and it knows what channel it
is. It can even control volume and access the guide. It just can’t access
my DVR list, but only a minor drawback.

The games are coming. Personally, I have certain game types that I play
certain consoles (aside from exclusives). Xbox happens to by my go-to for
sports/racing games. But I also like the exclusives that the brand has
been able offer in the past. At launch, there just weren’t enough
exclusives to draw me in. At least none that made me want to take that
leap. I still have concerns over Microsoft banking everything on Halo and
Gears of War exclusives, but we are starting to see more hit the scene
too. Sunset Overdrive is a blast to play, reminding me a weird combo
between Left 4 Dead, Grand Theft Auto and Tony Hawk. Forza Horizon 2
somehow manages to be more fun than the original. Also, while not an
exclusive, I am currently being completely terrified by The Evil Within.
But there are more great games on the Horizon, and hopefully Microsoft will
start playing more friendly and we can see some really great exclusives hit
the shelves in the years to come.

The interface and usability of the system has drastically improved over the
Xbox 360 too. They found a happy medium in being Kinect motion friendly,
and controller friendly. Things can be difficult to find sometimes, and
not everything can be controlled from just one method (Kinect vs.
controller), but they do work well with each other.

The Xbox One is extremely powerful. Despite having the lower quality
hardware (again, when you look at specs on paper, the PS4 is clearly more
powerful than the Xbox One, please do not debate this. You can’t argue
with the hardware installed), the Xbox One is one powerful machine and does
things that the PS4 cannot. I think the key to Microsoft’s success in this
current age of the console war is being able to find efficient, effective
ways of utilizing the power that is under the hood of this beast. I think
efficiency is especially the key here, especially if they can find a more
minimalist approach to the UI and navigation. I am very aware that it
sometimes takes over a minute to open “My Games & Apps” because it has to
generate content for the tiles on the screen by running out to the
internet. But give us some options here. Allow us to turn that feature
off so that we can get those screaming fast load times the commercials
promise us.

Okay. I have said my peace. Microsoft definitely has the opportunity to
win this age of console wars with the beastly power and potential the Xbox
One has, but can they harness it well enough to emerge the victor. Only
time will tell. It is currently a great entertainment platform, but how
about bringing it back to its roots as a great gaming platform too. Let’s
hope that Microsoft becomes a little more developer-friendly, and we get to
see the full-power of this machine released into excellent
console-exclusives.


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