While we had a previous poll and some thoughts and speculation on the next Xbox here at Armchair Arcade (among many other thoughts from staff and other commenters), it's now time to discuss the reality from today's #XboxReveal, with Microsoft the last of the three to play its next generation hand. As you no doubt already know, Nintendo's Wii U is struggling mightily, while Sony's PS4 has a lot of positive buzz so far and will be released around the same time as the new Xbox (Xbox One). With all that said, let's take a look at what was just unveiled.
On Tuesday, May 21, we'll have the next Xbox announcement. Nintendo has obviously already played their hand with the Wii U, an intriguing, but possibly failed gamble on a mix of current gen technology with tablet paradigms, and Sony has shown much of what they'll be offering with the PS4, a "social" next gen console that emphasizes its access speed for everything from updates to getting to play games/demos without much, if any, delay. Interestingly, Microsoft was first out of the gate this current generation, but will be last to make their announcement thanks to positive momentum in the past few years (everywhere except Japan, of course).
In any case, the rumor mill has been quite active, obviously, with the usual mix of thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful claims. You can read all about those elsewhere, but here are my thoughts on what is and isn't likely:
Sources like Kotaku claim that the new upcoming Xbox console will always have to be online to play games. Even if they are single player games. Without an internet connection the device more or less is a doorstop as it won't be possible to launch any games or apps. It is also said that internet interruptions up to 3 minutes won't cause issues but longer drop outs will halt the machine. And despite Sony denying that the new PS4 won't be able to play second hand games they did apply for a patent for technology doing that very thing. Companies do seem to be drifting away from giving a good customer service. Below are my thoughts on these matters which seems to become a reality for consumers world-wide. If you don't want to read it all, there's also a video :)
I've been quiet on the blog front of late as I've been focused on writing three new books for 2013 (and hopefully do what I can to help get the documentary out as well). However, with the latest NPD figures for videogame consoles being dissected across the Web-o-sphere, and Sony likely firing the next salvo for next generation platforms with their upcoming PlayStation-centric announcement (and Microsoft to follow soon thereafter), I thought this would a good time to break my silence and chime in with my perspective on the current videogame-centric happenings.
First off, it's clearly not looking good for pure videogame stuff with three lackluster hardware launches in a row: 3DS, Vita, and Wii U. The 3DS recovered sufficiently with a dramatic price cut that was very much against Nintendo's previous corporate policies that discouraged losing money on hardware, which allowed it enough time to hold out for the software situation to pick up. While it will never reach the sales heights of the blockbuster DS, considering how much competition both direct and indirect there is now versus then, it should still end up selling quite well when it has run through its complete lifecycle.
Microsoft made a huge splash with the first successor to their XBox gaming console with the XBox 360 in November 2005. I was an early adopter, although I am not sure why. Perhaps because it was the first generation released after I had seriously started to collect consoles several years prior. By this point, I had a pretty decent run of home consoles starting with the Atari VCS. Perhaps it was a simple matter of the fact the world was moving into true HD territory, I owned a fairly new HD TV, and it was time to give this new console a try.
I had no idea what sort of troubles that I would be getting myself into, and I was not the only one.
As we're all all too aware, the tablet market has been dominated by Apple since the April 2010 introduction of the first iPad. While there have been several quality Android tablets released to compete since, outside of pure budget plays like the Kindle Fire that all but ignore the presence of its operating system, they've failed to make much of an impact with the masses. Other tablets like HP's TouchPad and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook suffered from corporate indifference with the former and corporate incompetence with the latter. What this has all led to is a competitive vacuum that Microsoft seems poised to fill with their surprisingly well-kept-secret announcement event yesterday.
While we were expecting a Microsoft-branded tablet to leverage its well regarded Xbox branding, instead Microsoft recycled the Surface table name (which is now PixelSense) for its two-pronged tablet attack. Surprisingly, for Microsoft of recent vintage outside of its Xbox stuff, the unveiling was spectacular and sure-footed. Not only did Microsoft pull an Apple with the secrecy and subsequent excitement surrounding the event, they clearly pulled together an A team of designers and engineers to manufacture tablets that even Cupertino's famed group would surely be proud to call their own, right down to the clever cover designs.
They say if you want something done right, do it yourself, and Microsoft clearly has taken that to heart, joining Apple in controlling the entire tablet eco-system, and, unlike HP or RIM, seemingly doing so with conviction. Obviously Microsoft will still let just about anyone else create Windows 8 tablets and hybrids, but the bar has been raised to the point where any type of half-hearted effort will look foolish in comparison and destined for failure.
So, as the first day winds down, I thought I would toss out a few impressions of what I thought were the most significant announcements from the early part of the first day, which focused on Microsoft and the Xbox 360. Next, we should expect to see Sony's stuff and then Nintendo's major Wii U announcements, both of which I'll also discuss.
Bill does a quick unboxing of the Kinect Rush Xbox 360 House Party kit from www.houseparty.com. He also quickly mentions his latest book, My Xbox. Filmed by Christina Loguidice on an iPad 2, where it was also edited and uploaded via the iMovie app.
To the delight of 8-bit videogame fans everywhere, the legendary Karateka will soon be getting a reboot courtesy of original developer, Jordan Mechner, for the downloadable game services on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As we know with the long history of Archon remakes, it can take many years and iterations to finally hit on a proper remake formula, but at least Mechner is saying all the right things in interviews, trying to take direct inspiration from the original. After all, although Karateka is a type of playable martial arts film, it kept its gameplay simple and approachable, something fighting games have all but forgotten since the rise of Street Fighter II, and the related over-the-top, combo-heavy, and sometimes button mashing approaches to hand-to-hand combat.