Japanator Discusses: The Xbox One


How does Microsoft's new hotness fare?

How about that new Xbox, eh? In case you've been hiding under a rock for the past three days, Microsoft announced its next home console, dubbed the "Xbox One". Equipped with a brand-new Kinect, a new controller, and a heavy load of divisive messaging, Microsoft made its splash and hoped gamers would get hooked.

And did they? We went 'round the conference table at Japanator's Undersea Headquarters and quizzed the network's premier weebs on their gut reactions to the announcement. Read 'em below, and tell us what you think in the comments!

Hiroko Yamamura:

I'll be honest, I'm probably going to end up buying both consoles. Gone are the days where you would buy a system based on the kind of games that would be released, as much AAA titles find their way to most systems. What this next generation seems to be about is lifestyle, and HOW you play these titles.

I'm a Sony fan-girl through and through. From cameras to TVs, their gear usually hits the right points for me. However, this last generation's Microsoft offering really elevated online play for me, and offered up a level of "non hardcore" gaming I've come to enjoy as well. A few hours here or there blasting my friends heads off, while I spend my marathon gaming on the PS3.

I've largely shifted to handheld gaming due to my hectic travel schedule, but still really relish some time in front of my television with a gaming power house.

Around the interwebs people still mention how PCs are still top dog as far as power is concerned. This generation may change at that. It boils down to how you want to play. Just because a system can do something doesn't mean it needs to. Heck, I use different computers for different tasks. I can do all my email on my iphone, but I won't be changing my sit down on my desktop to answer long emails anytime soon.

I'm excited for this next gen, I love video games, any way I can get em. Keep em coming, there's a lot of room for competition. I'm not buying everyone's prediction of the death of console gaming.

If one thing can be sure, I'm going to be very poor this year.

Jeff Chuang:

Microsoft's Xbox One gets mad props, in my mind, for doing that hypervisor-emulated, triple-OS-swap doohicky, with voice commands. Sony, on the other hand, is riding on a better device ecosystem (ie., handhelds) and is open to gaming on Android, something I'm mildly invested in. I didn't buy both the 360 and PS3 because only one had the games I want to play. Furthermore, the Playstation online systems may be region-segregated, it is still accessible from any PS3 you buy. Not so much with the Xbox ecosystem. And if that's going to be the trend, I think import gamers will have no choice between the two. We might suck it up and import a Japanese Xbox One when the right games hit that market, and long before that pick up a PS4, since that will likely hit Japan first anyway, and much more likely to have quality Japanese games available, ie., that killer app, during the launch window. It's just a replay of the PS3/360 era, except with more social sharing nonsense.

I already have a powerful "Microsoft" console in the form of my desktop computer. How is the Xbox One a value-added proposition to someone with a PC is a tad dubious in terms of what we can already do in the living room, no thanks to the countless companies selling us smart TVs and set-top boxes that leverages a PC or laptop and enhance that experience. Unless Microsoft pulls out all the stops on SmartGlass I don't think it can match, say, AirPlay to an Apple TV or something like that. It's a bit like the 360 is a handy entertainment center companion in that if you have one, you can do all kinds of stuff with it. It's just if you didn't have one, there were a million other, arguably better, entertainment center companions. And unlike the PS3 back in the day when it was the best Blu-ray player at the time, I'm not sure how much value it adds for gamers outside of bringing us games. With that we're back to square one: games; and to a lesser extent, pricing.

But I guess another way to look at it is that all the TV and Sports business of the Xbox One is merely leveling the playing field with everything else on the market. It had to have those capabilities to some degree.

I also have a lot of concern about the whole used game situation--Japan's second-hand market is much larger than the west. If the people can't pawn off expensive Xbox One games, how will they cater to the otaku market over in Japan? I can't see how "no used games" can at all fly with Japan's retail climate if the Xbox One is to even make a dent the size of the 360 over there.

In other words, whichever gets [email protected] 3 first wins. And if I had my way, it'll come out on both and the world can be all one, suffering at expensive DLC packs every month or two. Looking forward to E3 and all those announcements!

Elliot Gay:

Their conference was a complete and total train wreck. 

Speaking from a Japanese perspective, Xbox One is as good as dead over here. Japan's second-hand market is a huge deal, and in some ways selling and buying used games functions as a sort of rental system to gamers here. Buy back prices have always been pretty fantastic within the first two weeks of a game's release. The functions that Microsoft has detailed essentially cut out this system. One look at Japanese blogs paints a grim picture; nobody here in Japan is happy with this.

The TV functions mean nothing to folks here because like the 360, none of those apps actually work in Japan. This system might as well be called 'Merica Box for how little it considers the wider international audience. That being said, I think it even fails at that, seeing as a large portion (more than you'd expect) of American citizens actually lack consistent internet connections. Phil Harrison has noted that you must connect the system to the internet once every 24 hours. They haven't elaborated on what happens if you don't, but it's not hard to draw the conclusion that you won't be able to use 99% of your system's functions.

The indie scene is looking grim too, especially now that we know there will be no self publishing on the Xbox One. This lines up nicely with what we've heard from indies too. There's also the fear that Xbox One games will become unplayable in 5-10 years once the system is dead. If it requires an online check-in and working servers, what happens when those shut down for good? Do the games stop working forever?

Microsoft had a great opportunity here to dispel some of the bad rumors floating around over the past half year. Instead, they confirmed all of those rumors, and even added more fuel to the fire. I can't think of a way they could have screwed this up more.

I can only imagine Shuhei Yoshida laughing hysterically in his office, and Iwata plotting Nintendo's comeback plan.

I should also note that the fact that the Kinect is always on and listening is creepy as hell. It's listening to what you're saying at all times, and that kind of makes me feel uncomfortable.

Eric Koziol:

Do not really have much to add on top of what Elliot said other than I really hope we all can start calling it the P'Xone.

I had a strong hunch I would not be buying one and this only reconfirmed it. If they do dare to sell it in Japan it will make the Wii U look like a super success.

Josh Tolentino:

While I'm not inclined to be as grim as Elliot when it comes to the Xbox One, I will agree that it's not looking great to me, and to be frank, right now it's hard to see how an Xbox One would look good to anyone who lives outside the United States. 

Perhaps it's a side effect of the greater context of Microsoft's announcement. Given that it was broadcast on a cable TV channel, it's not surprising that Microsoft would push its TV integration hard, and as a result much of the thrust was simply irrelevant to people who don't (or can't) care about getting American TV. And if they intend to keep pushing that angle, rather than broadening their pitch over the coming weeks, then I seriously doubt the Xbox One's international prospects. Well, at least until it gets cracked for piracy, at any rate. However from the perspective that this is Microsoft's next move not just in the console war, but in its war against Apple and Google, everything makes a little more sense. At that point all the hoo-hah about instant switching and multitasking and Skype feels like it matters a little more. And to be frank, if I were faced with a choice between buying an Xbox One, an Apple TV and a Google TV, I'd choose Microsoft's box, no contest. 

But at that point I realize that I personally don't really want any "TV" devices, from Apple, Google, Microsoft, or whomever, because I do all my TV-watching on my PC, a device that does everything the Xbox One can do and more. It comes back to the fact that much of Microsoft's pitch only seems relevant to Americans with big-screen TVs and enough living room space to make a Kinect matter. Simply put, I'm out of that target audience, and without a bunch of cool exclusives, ideally revealed soon, I'll have no reason not to skip an Xbox One and simply upgrade my PC.  In a way, with international viewers it's looking like the PS4 holds the upper hand. Its emphasis on quick and easy video sharing and Sony's friendlier history with import gamers (Vita account shenanigans notwithstanding) have a much more global appeal that "Yay fantasy football!", and Sony was vague enough at its own announcement that it's been coy about just what kind of DRM-style measures its taking, and have wisely let Microsoft absorb the first volley of hate. If we're lucky, come E3 any theoretical plans they have to implement something similar will be scuttled or neutered.

Salvador G-Rodiles

When it comes to console and handheld gaming, the important factor for me is the software. While a good number of AAA are going to appear on every major console, I'm mostly into the games by small companies and indie developers. That said, the PS4 has ensured me that I will get my fix of next gen Atlus, NIS, and Falcom titles. At the moment, Microsoft hasn't revealed their whole roster of third party companies that will be making games for the Xbox One, so I will wait and see how things unfold during this year's E3. Hopefully, they can increase their number of exclusive titles, since the 360 ended up going through a situation where most of their exclusive titles ended up on the PS3 and/or PC. Otherwise, you might as well stick with a PC, PS4, and/or Wii U for the new generation.

In regards to the titles unveiled for the Xbox One, I'm not really into FPS or sports games, so it's going to take a wider software variety to sell me on the system. Then again, the deciding factor for me will be the console that gets the major Super Robot Wars games (e.g., OG, Z, and/or a new installment).

Josh Totman:

This year marks the 30th year that I have owned and enjoyed home video games. It all started out with the Coleco Gemini that I got for Christmas in 1983. Since then I have enjoyed ever major console that has been release until now including some hand held systems. To say that I have 'grown up' with video game is a small understatement. They have been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Now with the Xbox One just announced, I'm pretty sure that this might be my first skipped console that I won't buy.

My decision is 75% based on what I know of the system and 25% on that I have no real time for games anymore. First off, they are really pushing the idea that this is the new cable box of your house. I don't watch much TV these days if at all. I don't even have a cable subscription that could be used with this. Why would I want it? It sounds neat that you can basically not have to move at all from your couch ever again to do anything that deals with the TV, but isn't that what we are trying not to do nowadays? I don't need something that helps me stay on my couch longer.

Most of what the Xbox One has in it doesn't intrigue me at all. No switchable hard drive, installed games, coded games that you have to active online to play, Kinect always on to listen for you, can't take physical games to friends houses to try out, and no backward compatibility equals a big no thanks from me. These aren't selling points for most people out there. I'm not sure which market or demographic Microsoft is trying to target with all of these new features. I'm trying to wrap my brain around who would want this that doesn't either play sports titles or Call of Duty. I think Microsoft just looked at some of their best selling titles and said "What can we do to make 'them' happy?" This is not where all your money is coming from guys. They have made an all in one box for only a few people.

If E3 doesn't produce something spectacular for them, you can rest assured that this system is going to flop very hard. Sorry Microsoft. Your Xbox ONE is all for ONE, only for certain ONES, and not for this ONE. I'll be using my saved money on more board games that I play with real people that are in front of me, thanks.

Chris Walden:

I've just woken up the morning after the One launch, and Twitter still has plenty to say on the subject. I should clarify right now that without a massive reason not to, I'll be getting a PS4 and a One. For better or worse, I already have a Wii U sat next to me, gathering dust until I get hold of Pikmin 3. I own both a PS3 and a 360, and while the latter console probably edges it for me this generation, they've both been great consoles in their own way.

First of all, I quite enjoyed the announcement. This may seem like something of a shock considering how many people I'm seeing complain about it, but honestly, there was some exciting stuff. Snaptiles and multi-app loading look really neat, for starters. What if you get stuck in a game and you're the kind of guy or gal that wants an FAQ to read. Boom, you have one. Skype can load up while you're playing. Guaranteed online chat for any game, if you have the friends to do it with. I think Microsoft did themselves a disservice by not selling these features on their specific gaming uses.

The biggest complaint I've seen is that we just haven't seen a lot of games. True, we haven't, but then we didn't see much of the PS4 library either. What we did see didn't mention anything of release dates. Microsoft have been pretty good for games on the 360 (with exception to perhaps RPGs) so I'm not exactly sure where the worry is coming from. Publishers will put games on this system until it dies, you don't have to worry about that. E3 will be where they get their chance to show them off, so complain after that if you're still not satisfied with either console.

I don't have much of an issue with the required Kinect either, as there are some pretty nifty features built into that little box. I think there's genuine worry that developers will now make all menus motion-operated  or voice-operated, but really, do you honestly think that'll happen? Even if it did, the controller certainly isn't going anywhere, and you can see on one of the new buttons on the pad that you'll be able to swap what program you have active.

Actually, I lied. It's probably the whole always-on/second hand games/related stuff that have received the most controversy. I'm right there with you guys, a lot of it seems like a really bad idea. However, we still have no idea whatsoever about what the PS4 does in this regard. EA did do away with ALL of their online pass stuff, so don't be too surprised if this is a PS4 thing as well. I think it was quite easy for Microsoft to gloss over any negatives and ride out of the whole event on a similar level to the PS4, but at least we've been offered transparency. PS4 still hasn't let any of the negatives come through, but at this point, it may very well have been a smart strategy.

In summary, I enjoyed what we saw yesterday. The One and the PS4 are going to get games, there should be no concern over that, so while E3 will be used to cater to that, it was nice to get deep down into the unit and its features. However, there are a few more things that need to be confirmed before people should be choosing a console to back. The first is the price, of course. These consoles have a lot of similar features, but if it's a good £100/$150 difference in launch price between the two, more people will jump to the cheaper option, at least at first. Games are obviously the most important thing, and E3 will be the decider for that. I'm glad that Microsoft got a lot of the Fifa/CoD stuff out of the way now, as it means they *should* have the time to focus on new things at E3.

Also, I agree with pretty much everyone else, the name is really dumb. It seems they put wordplay above all else in the decision to do it, and that just doesn't sit right with me.

"It's all-in-One"

"It's the One"

"Only One"

Blah. It was going to be harder to find a good name after naming the 360, we know that. I wouldn't have been surprised if this was called the Xbox Three, though the three and the 360 would only have confused people. I know it's not all about names, and we'll get used to it, but this is a feeling I've not had since everyone was laughing about the Wii's name.   

TL;DR: Both consoles look neat, but we need prices and games before we can properly judge.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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