E3 2013: Why the Xbox One isn’t doomed

Published by Nolan Hedstrom on June 11, 2013

Xbox One isn't done

Let me preface this with the fact that I am not an Xbox fan boy. I honestly don’t consider myself a fan boy of any gaming platform. From the ages of 8-14, I was a Nintendo fan boy all the way. From 15-18, I was a mixture of feelings toward Nintendo with the Game Cube and PlayStation with the PS2.  18-22, I was a huge Sony fan boy, only owning a PS3. Then I got an Xbox 360 and everything from the user interface to the superior online atmosphere made me fall in love; not to mention my falling into the trap of the Cheevo. My PS3 started to collect dust mainly because it only had an 80GB hard drive and the fan on the system is so loud you can hear it from across the house. However, once PlayStation Plus came around, I started to look at my PS3 more, with the great free content they provided to their loyal customers. I actually just bought a huge hard drive for my PS3 which gets delivered today and I will spend my evening upgrading my PS3.

Even though PlayStation Plus added a lot of new content, I’ve been spending most of my gaming on my PC. With all of the Steam sales and Humble Bundles, my consoles have turned into Netflix players. The past two games I’ve gotten from GameFly, I’ve had for almost two months each with few hours of gameplay. The past few weeks, I have come to accept the pros and cons of each gaming platform and I’m glad I have each of them.

Besides the WiiU, there’s like no games for that thing.

With the news coming out of these recent console press conferences and e3 showing us a lot more about them, I’ve noticed a lot of trends. People seem to hate Microsoft with a passion for their decision to add DRM to all of their games, have the Xbox One unable to play used games, and always needing the Kinect plugged in. Conversely, people are praising Sony to high heaven because their new console can play used games, doesn’t have to connect to the internet, and is cheaper. People started using phrases like “Xbox Done” and “Xbone” stating that the Xbox One was dead and that Sony was to be crowned King of Kings of this console generation that hasn’t even really started yet. Personally, if I had to choose a console right now I would go PS4 hands down, but I am trying to play Devil’s Advocate after the overwhelming reaction after last night's conferences. So here is why I think the Xbox One isn’t dead:

It’s the Future
Digital is the future without a doubt. Downloading games and streaming games is our future and there’s not much you can do about it. It will be more efficient and cheaper to have everything be downloadable. You’re sitting at home and you decide that you want a new game, all you have to do is press download and then you can start playing the game. Look at Steam as an example of digital content. Everything is all bits and bytes; you don’t physically own anything besides an email or information on your account that states that you own the game. I understand there are issues with people not always having access to the internet to check that their games are valid and not everyone has fast internet that gives them the ability to download a full-size game in 20 minutes. There are soldiers overseas on active duty that spend their downtime on military bases playing video games to pass the time. They might not always have the best internet or any at all which could cause issues. However, I think these edge cases are few and far between. On a larger scale, most people have access to some sort of internet to verify their purchases, but it would be nice if they found another way to verify ownership to try and account for these edge cases.

Money is an Issue
Right now the PS4 is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One and that is going to be the deciding factor for a lot of people. I don’t think people should decide soley based on that price difference until we know more about the price of games. Right now the price of a new game is $60 and that comes from the fact that you have to print a disc, a case, a manual, and account for shipping costs. Also factored within that price is that publishers and developers are going to lose money from the sale of used games. Square Enix considered Tomb Raider a loss with 3.4 million sales because games cost a lot to make; more than people know. If there were no used games, publishers and developers would get 100% of the profit, meaning they could lower the price of their games. This method would work if they sold their games for $40-45.

One thing people hate is expensive DLC, claiming that the content should have been in the game to begin with and not sold on the side. The reason for the $15 DLC is because developers need a way to make up for lost revenue. If they get 100% of the profit from the game, there is no reason for them to not have $1 DLC or even free DLC.

There is loop that exists in retail that keeps everything going: Developers make game, Publishers sell game, Consumers buy game, Publishers and Developers get paid, Developer makes game 2. The problem there is a little break in the loop where the Consumer A sells game to Retailer, Retailer sells game to Consumer B, Consumer B sells game to Retailer, Retailer sells game to Consumer C, Developer goes out of business. This causes the Publishers and Developers, you know the people who brought the game into existence in the first place, to make one sale off of a game that gets sold 15 times. I don’t think Publishers and Developers are being greedy for wanting to make money off of the game they create. I also understand that I have a full time job and can afford to pay money for a game I want, but I’ve been those other shoes. I’ve been in the scenario where I am living paycheck to paycheck and eating ramen for every meal. You can’t really afford $120 a month for a couple games, but if Microsoft does it right $80 a month is much more reasonable for most people.

Xbox One with Kinect 2

It’s a Good Console; it just has a lot of baggage
There are a lot of good elements and improvements in the Xbox One that make it a fantastic gaming machine. The ability to start downloading a game and play it while it is still downloading is incredible; even if you are in the situation where you have slow internet that could make a world of difference for you. The ability to jump in and out of games instantly is fantastic and is not a gimmick like a lot of people claim. “I don’t need to watch TV on my console or use Netflix.” Stop being so self-centered! The Xbox One isn’t for YOU, it is for everyone! Yes there are going to be features of the console you will never use but others will use all the time. I would love the ability to be play a game and I get into a situation where I get super frustrated and be able to say “Xbox TV” and have it quickly snap to my favorite episode of Adventure Time and lighten my mood a bit before switching back to my game in a better state of mind to get past a difficult section of the game I was playing.  

Watching a movie or a video shrunk down while doing things on my dashboard would be nice for me, since I like to multitask. The ability for someone to remotely take control of your game from their console could be helpful in tough situations for some people. Integration with tablets using the Smart Glass has a lot of potential. Similar to the Vita connecting to the PS4 or the WiiU gamepad, using a tablet to integrate with your main game has a lot of potential, provided you are given a robust experience from it. I would love to be at my mom’s house for lunch and a friend needs my help in a game so I jump on my tablet real quick and can assist them by controlling a missile drone or hack into someone’s game to hinder their progress in Watchdogs. 

There are a lot of things that have been crammed into the Xbox One that do not excite me, though.  Always needing the Kinect 2 plugged in causes a lot of issues. There is the fear that it is always listening and always watching you which probably isn’t true, but is possible. Not everyone has a giant living room to make use of the Kinect 2 even though it can be operated in a smaller space. This is especially a big deal for Japan, which has never been the best market for the Xbox. Most people in Japan live in very small places with barely any room at all, making the Kinect 2 next to useless for those consumers. This leads to the unfortunate situation that not a lot of Japanese developers are going to create games for the Xbox One and will only develop exclusively for the PS4. Hopefully Microsoft is not requiring developers to include Kinect 2 features and developers only add those features if they feel they add to the game. The system either being “Always Online” or having to connect to the internet to verify the validity of games once every 24 hours is a horrible idea. There are better ways to get around theft in games without needed that daily check.

Xbox Live Gold Plus?
When  the PS3 and the Xbox 360 where in their younger days, people toted that the PS3 was better because you didn’t have to pay for multiplayer. However, that left people with a horrible online experience playing multiplayer on PS3. Servers were slow, servers were down a lot, and the lack of an included microphone with the system left people playing with mute, useless teammates. Microsoft was proud of their service and stuck with the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Meanwhile Sony saw the opportunity to improve their online experience and improve it they did. PlayStation Plus added a lot of content and surpassed Xbox Live at the speed of light. Microsoft has said that on the Xbox One you will get two free games a month in response to PlayStation Plus, but that won’t be enough; especially if they only plan on giving us free games that are several years old and we could pick up for a few bucks anyway. If they want to rival PlayStation Plus, they need to give us access to recent games for free, exclusive DLC, early access to content, and a lot of discounts on games.

Xbox One Banner

Nothing is Set in Stone
Coming out of these press conferences we need to remember that we do not know all the facts and nothing is set in stone. There is always time for either company to change their plans to take the lead or to even potentially make the gap between consoles bigger. I doubt Microsoft will change their stance on used games or DRM, I think due to some already established contracts, but they can always change and improve other aspects of their console. With cheaper games and Steam-like sales, Xbox One could rise back from its early grave. If they remove the daily internet check for validating games and switch to some sort of one time validation, they would be much better off. 
All of this being said, Sony really did “win e3” with their press conference but this is not because of the ability to play used games or not having to check online for validation. In my opinion, the reason Sony won e3 is because they put an emphasis on Indie developers who often have some of the best games of the year, showed several exclusive games on their console, had world premieres for a lot of games, and the fact that their console is $100 cheaper (because it doesn’t have a $100 camera tacked on).  Digital is the future and used games are going to go away, and Sony did this right because, with the flick of a switch and some software updates, the PS4 can become that console when the time is right. Microsoft messed up by shoving people out of the plane without a parachute.

Side note just so people know. I have no plans on buying either console when they come out, but as of right now, with the information we have, if I had to buy one of them it would be PS4 hands down. I hope Microsoft fixes these issues so they actually stand a chance this generation.


  • Darth_Spudius Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    Great article, very mature look on things. It's quite refreshing from these children jumping on the "microsoft is dead, drm is bad blah blah" band wagon.

    The only thing I'd disagree with with is who "won" the battle of E3. I loved the fact that Sony focused on Indie devs... it's about bloody time and some of them looked great but that's ALL they did. We barely got to see any top games, they didn't demonstrate how the console works etc. I was very disappointed.

    I much preferred Microsoft's approach to the situation. They demonstrated a lot of the features and showed us some good looking new games. If I am going to be impressed by a game console conference, it's because I want to see the console work.

  • Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    Not just an informative but a necessary article Nolan and I hope people take the time to read it and not let the fanboy in them get the better of them.

    Too many good points to tackle them all in one reply but one I hadn't considered enough was your point about the pricing of games for the new systems.

    I would be surprised if Sony or Microsoft tried to push up the price of games for next gen. You correctly point out that not enough attention is given to the escalating costs of development but it's a very risky move to try and recoup all that through a higher initial retail pricepoint when it's far from certain there would still be as great a demand at that higher cost. If the fuss over rental and used has shown us anything it's that console gamers feel current prices are more than high enough. That might seem unfair on some Devs but that is the ecosystem in which consoles work right now. In the future it will indeed be very different as digital only is coming.

    The xbox one will get purchased. It will have early adopters and it will become the console of choice for some gamers. That's just how it's going to be. If there was the slightest doubt of that then the first to abandon ship would have been the publishers and whatever else Microsoft have done they are not short of publishers who have lined up to support their machine. That is not altruism on the part of publishers, nor is it all because Microsoft worked out deals with the likes of EA and others. It's because they know the xbox one is going to become a market they cannot possibly ignore. A bad start and huge mistakes will hardly force Microsoft to go bust and abandon it. It will claw it's way into the marketplace even if it has a less than auspicious start (to put it mildly) and has to play catch up for quite some time.

    An industry with only one utterly dominant console would be a very dangerous thing to have let us never forget. Those who think there are too many anti-consumer practices now should imagine the power of a virtual monopoly in either Sony or Microsoft's hands. Not good.

  • MilkyAlien Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    Considering the stories of how much money is made for the stores by selling games new, I don't think this industry deserves to get away with the iron fist approach. These things are marathons, not sprints and Microsoft haven't broken their legs yet.

  • DrGonzo2 Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    In a way I understand that a lot of developers are losing money and going out of business because of used games, but that's not the only thing that made them go out of their jobs. Poor management and they way they spend on their finances is another huge problem when they are doing their business, for instance when the Developers of Kingdoms of Amalur went belly up, it wasn't because of used games it was because how poorly they spent so much money on advertising it and the sales didn't meet to their expectations.

    With the case of Digital downloads being the only option for getting games in the future, I don't see that being the case. Yes it will be the way that we will generally buy for games, but there has to be an option for people like me who love to collect games for our own property. Like I want to have my own copy of a really great RPG that I want to have in my own personal collection because it makes me feel good that I have this physical copy in my house and not some mis-mash of bytes and memories of one, it just isn't the same.

  • Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    Some fair points but allow me to refute a few:

    I don't like the idea of everything going digital. A lot of people don't. Used games will always exist and be around because people just aren't that wealthy enough to constantly purchase new games. Gamefly is a huge part of my gaming life and if XB1 wants to exclude itself from that, well then they won't see a dime from me. The difference being that PC games are now purely digital and how console games are going digital is that PC games are incredibly cheap. They're so affordable with the countless steam sales, humble bundles, and whatnot. But you'll never see those kinds of prices on Xbox live or PSN, no matter how old the games are. The whole Xbox-tv wasn't made for you is a terrible excuse which can similarly be applied to the Kinect. Sure it's not made for the majority of gamers, but by pushing that ahead, you're also neglecting what they really want. What did most of the audience at the conferences consist of? Just gamers who want to see new fuggin games. Part of the reason why Sony "won" E3 was because they straight up clarified how they would respond to used games. MS had their opportunity to set things right at their own conference but they didn't. MS didn't even bother to bring it up, making a ton of people highly concerned. It's all about listening to the consumers, hearing out their worries and complaints and so far, MS didn't do any of that. So excuse me for trying to be a logical consumer. Sure Microsoft will be fine on its own, but they sure as hell don't impress me in the least.

  • pjunk Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    I don't think the Xbox One is doomed, I just think it deserves to be. There's too much wrong with it and the industry isn't going to accept that unless the money says so. And I think it would be ridiculous for digital to become the future of all gaming, because it's already the present; it's the present for PCs, and digital makes perfect sense for PCs because a PC is where you go for convenient and reliable Internet browsing. I find consoles appealing for completely different reasons, and the day they force an online requirement on all consoles and take away my physical ownership of all my games is the day I switch to PC exclusively. They'll have to come up with something way more interesting than voice activated TV and movie streaming to justify that level of bull, and at that point the product they're selling will probably no longer be a console focused on video games. They'll just be an extra perk of the machine, like they are for PCs.

  • Emulatedhype Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    I agree that we should wait before we say how well either system will do. But for now, just looking at social media, the narrative that the public is constructing is really running against Microsoft at this point. It's going to be a PR nightmare for them going forward.

    $500 is a big pill to swallow in a holiday season, especially for budgeting families. I don't see the One doing well outside of the upper-middle class range without introducing a subsidized/subscription model. And that's just in the US, the DRM/Region-Free/Offline issue is marketing GOLD for Sony in Europe/Asia/South America/Developing Counties. MS might be setting themselves up for complete failure outside of the US/UK regions.

    Also, MS still has a chance to screw up the marketing with confusing messaging in their ads. Especially since they're going to be pushing an all-in-one box marketing agenda to the general public, it might not resonate well if they do it wrong or use that stupid "One Input" slogan with their core strategy going forward.

    I'm not saying they're down for the count, but there's not much to play devil's advocate over with how they're handling the One at this point imo. The ball was in Sony's court but they spiked it back pretty hard while Microsoft was busy trying to fish a wedgie out of their ass crack.

  • Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    Past the hyperbole, I don't think anyone really thinks the Xbox is doomed. It will sell, it may even outsell PS4 at times. The problem is that Microsoft did something to completely break the trust of the consumers, stabbed its fans in the back, tried to profit in the short term and is now going to pay for it in the long term. I think Microsoft has lost the "hard core" gamer for at least this generation, if not the foreseeable future. What they were trying to do, how they were trying to screw people over for monetary gain, was so blatant, that it can't be defended and it can't be ignored. Microsoft has dug a grave for itself, deservedly so. I'll speak for myself, I've never been an Xbox fanboy, but after this stunt, I will never buy another Xbox again. I'm not saying I'll buy Sony or Nintendo's offerings, but the Xbox is dead to me and it doesn't matter how much Microsoft comes out and pimps the XboxTwo and gets on their knees and begs for the players to return... I have a damn good memory.
    .One other thing I'd like like to take umbrage with: The idea that the future is undoubtedly digital and we should all just sit down and accept it. No. That is a defeatist attitude and just as I'm pissed with Sony for backdooring the requirement to pay for online play, staying silent is how we got to where we are, how Microsoft thought it could dick people over with DRM. We as gamers, as consumers, have a responsibility to continue to push back against these kinds of policies because if we give even an inch, they will take a mile and then some. We much continue to fight against policies that are a net-negative to us consumers.

  • Darth_Spudius Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    I don't know why everyone keeps bringing up digital distribution... it's this simple. If you folks didn't mass download everything we wouldn't of had this problem. But when people rallied against downloading many years ago they were merely laughed at. Now look where we are. People don't even by records or games anymore... iTunes... Steam... not very long term is it!

  • theottomatic91 Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    I honestly don't believe anyone truly believes MS is dead, I believe that a lot of people are pissed off at MS for burning the core audience and focusing on the COD dudebro Gamers.

    Online digital Distribution is something I'm okay with (as I've downloaded retail games on PSN and XBL) but I feel online DRM is a big no for me. The games that I know have DRM on PC have all been negatively viewed because of it, I mean games such as Assassins creed, Farcry, Diablo 3, Simcity and more I can't name.

  • Avatar
    7 years, 5 months ago

    Games' file sizes are only going to get bigger, and it already takes me a shit ton of time do download games onto my Xbox. I think I'll stick with physical copies until next generation when internet speeds improve.