[Friday Five] What Microsoft Did Right With the Xbox One

In Friday Five by Paul Arroyo

While many gamers are distraught about what Microsoft revealed this last Tuesday about their next-generation console, the Xbox One—with good reason (most of it)—there were a few highlights. Through all the rubble of the apparently disastrous Microsoft news conference we attempt to salvage 5 key points in which pre-established features were improved upon and new interesting things were announced.


New Controller

The Xbox 360’s controller is so well designed in terms of ergonomics that it’s practically flawless bar a minute detail (actually a big detail) in its horrendous D-Pad.  Ask any pad-player of fighting games out there if they liked using the Xbox 360 controller’s D-pad and you would most likely be answered with a resounding “No.” It has been finally fixed and made to be a regular D-pad. The triggers have been made to be slightly larger with rounded edges and are joined together with a slab atop the controller that features the home button. The triggers have also been equipped with miniscule motors which allows for vibrations emanating from the triggers themselves awarding the name of “impulse triggers.” The battery pack was assimilated into the controller which allows for more room to more comfortably grip the controller. The thumbsticks have been altered to be more “grounded” to the controller for precise commands and has edgings that were designed to keep fingers from sliding off.


300,000 Servers

One of the biggest upgrades to Xbox Live was the planned expansion of 285,000 servers to bring the total to 300,000 servers by the end of this year, up from 15,000. Aside from immensely helping matchmaking and other Xbox Live community features, since the Xbox One is to take full advantage of cloud storage, gaming should be improved. Certain processes are allocated to the cloud separate from the user’s console which is essentially what Maxis tried to do with SimCity, which may be a problem in the future since in order to take full advantage of cloud storage while playing games, players would have to be constantly connected to the internet. Since there have been so many problems with DRM, this can be a hit or miss with consumers who may or may not have a reliable internet provider.


Halo: The Television Series

It was revealed that 343 Industries, developers of Halo 4, would be partnering with Steven Spielberg to work on a dedicated Halo television series. With the success of Forward Unto Dawn, it appears many fans are left wanting more. It has not yet been announced which role Steven Spielberg would be taking in the creation of the Halo television series but he’s certain to be a major player in its production. “For me, the Halo universe is an amazing opportunity to be at that intersection where technology and myth-making meet,” said Spielberg. It’s a smart decision to advance such a beloved franchise but I don’t know if it’s exactly a console seller on its own.


15 Exclusives within the First Year

Halo, Gears of War, and Fable all became tremendous exclusive franchises for Microsoft on the Xbox 360. However, there were few exclusives for the console overall. In what seems like an attempt to directly compete with Sony, who has done well with having exclusive titles in the past, Microsoft plans on releasing 15 exclusive titles for the Xbox One within the first year of its launch, 8 of which are new IPs which include Quantum Break by Remedy Entertainment (creators of Alan Wake), and Ryse. Of existing franchises, Forza Motorsport 5 is confirmed and Halo 5 is expected. An image from the news conference surfaced  Thursday, that teases a few of the exclusive games. Having 15 exclusive titles come out the first year can definitely affect the reception of the Xbox One in a positive way for gamers.


Kinect 2.0

I do have to say that while I don’t think it’s a good idea to have the Kinect be such a vital piece of hardware for the Xbox One, it has seen many improvements in comparison to its Xbox 360 predecessor. You can think of the first Kinect as a sort of test run to see what would need to be adjusted for a newer edition and it seems Microsoft paid close attention at what needed to happen with the new Kinect. The Kinect 2.0 sensor will operate at 30 FPS in 250,000 pixel resolution and features a 1080p camera which, besides receiving images more clearly, is supposed to be able to work better in smaller rooms, which was a major problem for many consumers. Also included is an IR camera which helps the sensor to view objects more easily in low lit environments as well as very illuminated environments. The major benefit of having the Kinect 2.0 come standard with an Xbox One console is that more developers may be more inclined to make Kinect video games as all Xbox One owners will have one, and hopefully they will be of better quality because of its new technology. The Kinect 2.0 may finally realize the potential that the regular Kinect possessed.

It appears Microsoft is in a tough spot with the Xbox One right now. They still have time, however, from now until the official launch of the console to obtain a valuable amount of feedback and adjust their questionable policies accordingly. Whether or not they will falls on both Microsoft’s and consumers’ hands. Gamers are extremely vocal when it comes to the way their gaming is affected so they will definitely be heard as they are being now. There are consumers out there who are not all that into gaming and actually like the television aspects as they are right now but we just have to hope that Microsoft puts attention on their core audience of gamers and they have the chance to emphasize that this year in just a couple of weeks at E3.

Did you like anything about Microsoft’s news conference? Let us know in the comments below!

Paul Arroyo[Friday Five] What Microsoft Did Right With the Xbox One