Opinion: Why this consumer won't be buying the Xbox One
Microsoft held its Xbox press conference this past week, and I've been doing a lot of thinking since the event took place. While the industry writer in me has certainly been doing his fair share of pondering, however, it's the consumer in me that's really taken over the thought train. As a freelance writer, I don't make the most money, but I make enough to pay bills and get by somewhat comfortably — that's why every expense counts, and that's why I make sure to monitor the importance of the things I purchase. That's also why, for me, the Xbox One, for all of its insanely impressive features, is simply not worth purchasing at launch, if ever.
Let me preface this piece by saying that I am in no way some anti-Microsoft fiend who swears by the PlayStation brand. I never owned the original PlayStation because I preferred the Nintendo 64 over it. The PlayStation 2, on the other hand, quickly became one of my favorite platforms of all time due to its rapidly growing library of outstanding titles. Then along came the PlayStation 3, and while it's certainly featured its share of awesome exclusives, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in Sony, mainly due to setbacks on the part of the company and a poor direction in general for the industry this console generation.
I'm in no way a Sony loyalist, but I'd be remiss if I said I didn't prefer Sony's platforms over Microsoft's. The original Xbox didn't entice me to buy it because at the time I didn't care much for online gaming, and its library didn't appeal to me (sorry, Halo fans). The Xbox 360 was even more unattractive for my tastes, and that's largely due to the fact that, once again, there were no exclusives that I really cared for. I'm not a Gears fan, a Fable player, or a Halo aficionado. The only reason I ended up buying an Xbox 360 (bought it off a friend for $80) was so that I could play Fez and the superior version of Bayonetta.
Xbox One is an undeniably magnificent name for Microsoft's next platform.
In case I haven't made myself clear, I'm not saying that Microsoft makes bad machines — I simply believe that the gaming devices the company makes aren't for me. That belief was only confirmed with Microsoft's Xbox One announcement. I didn't know what to expect, and I hoped for something that would really wow me. Ultimately, the thing I loved most about the reveal took place within the first five minutes of the presentation: the console's name. I think Xbox One is a brilliant moniker for this device because it keeps things simple, goes back to basics, and emphasizes that this is the one device people will need for their entertainment needs. Seriously, brilliant name, Microsoft. I definitely appreciate the direction the company went in.
Unfortunately for me as a consumer, that's where my excitement ended. Immediately following the name, large amounts of time were spent discussing the non-gaming features of the Xbox One. I don't watch a lot of TV as it is, so the TV functionality of the console really didn't get my attention. I get that a lot of people have tons of shows that they love to watch, and for those individuals, being able to switch between programming on the fly using voice recognition and having their cable interconnected with the Xbox One seems like a great option. As someone who only watches a couple of TV shows (most of which are reruns of old sitcoms) and enjoys his professional wrestling (guilty pleasure, don't judge), I have no need or desire to have my gaming consoles connected to my TV-watching experience.
I'm also not sold on the gimmickry of voice commands and motion controls. Yes, I'm aware that this is a new Kinect with a new architecture and newer, better compatibility (as far as we know), but even then, I wasn't a fan of the first Kinect due to it being a failed piece of technology that never really went anywhere, and I doubt I'll be a fan of Kinect 2.0. People often regard the Wii Remote as a toy that they never use and state that it could've been better, but I would argue that the same could be said about the Kinect. Considering the fact that the Xbox One will come bundled with the Kinect and will actually require it really puts me off.
I really can't be bothered to care about TV or sports functionality.
Then there was all the sports talk. Quite frankly, I've never really been into sports and I never will be. While I do enjoy a daily run in the morning, the competitive aspect of athletics is something I'm not drawn to. That said, I have plenty of friends who loves sports, and the GameZone crew has an adulation for baseball, football, and so on. Therefore, while I think having instant access to your fantasy leagues while you watch sports and stay connected to the Xbox One is an excellent idea for that demographic, it means absolutely nothing to the consumer in me, and it is in no way a selling point.
Of course, I have to talk about games. My fear with the Xbox One is that, like its predecessors, it won't offer a library of titles that I care about. Quantum Break from developer Remedy looks promising, but like Alan Wake, it could always end up on the PC somewhere along the road, and I'm willing to wait. Additionally, Microsoft stated that it has a total of 15 exclusive titles already in the works for the Xbox One. Like everyone else, I have no idea what these games may be, so I can't write them off just yet, and I won't. Even then, it's hard for me to be excited for these unannounced games when so much emphasis was put on Call of Duty: Ghosts, that game's tech, and that game's dog partner mechanic (which was actually stupidly ridiculous).
One wild card Microsoft has access to is Rare. Following the press event the company told Polygon that a “historic IP” from Rare would make its return on the Xbox One, with details set to be revealed at this year's E3. This is actually quite exciting, and I can only imagine what both Rare and Microsoft have in store. But that excitement can only go so far, and Microsoft isn't exactly known for taking advantage of its exclusive Rare IPs (as we've seen for the past two console generations), so while I'm intrigued, I'm also equal parts skeptical. I sincerely hope we eventually see the return of Banjo-Kazooie and Conker, but with the direction Microsoft's taken both of those franchises down in the past, it's scary for me as a fan to think of what the future holds for those mascot characters.
Nuts and Bolts was good, but it wasn't a true Banjo-Kazooie experience in the traditional sense.
If you've read this far, you probably think I'll continue with my preference of Sony's machines. Truth be told, I probably won't purchase a PlayStation 4 at launch, either. While I'm certainly more interested in that device thanks in part to the fact that we got a look at some of its games, I'd by lying if I said I'm 100 percent stoked about the upcoming Sony platform. The PlayStation 3 is a solid gaming console that suffers from some ugly flaws, so no one can confirm that the PlayStation 4 won't go down a similar path.
I'm a huge indie game fan, so when comparing the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 — and Microsoft and Sony's practices — I can almost foresee the latter catering more to my tastes, which helps sway me in that direction. Microsoft has never been known to be all that indie-friendly, meanwhile Sony continues to make strides as it reaches further into that spectrum of the video game industry. I read an interesting piece by writer Colette Bennett, who's been an integral part of major outlets including Destructoid, Kotaku, and CNN, and she discussed how she won't buy the Xbox One because she feels it won't consider her personal interests as a video game fan. Given my vast appreciation for indie titles, I feel like the PlayStation 4 may consider my own personal tastes much more than the Xbox One.
If the past few months have convinced me of anything, it's not that I should buy either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4. Microsoft and Sony's pressers only pushed me to enter into a territory I would've never even considered as a longtime console fan: I'm extremely interested in purchasing a powerful gaming PC. If I save the money I would use for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, plus a little extra, I could buy a slick rig that'll provide me with truly impressive experiences (both triple-A and indie). So no, I probably won't buy an Xbox One, because as a consumer that doesn't seem like a smart move for me personally — at least not yet. While I'm sure to buy a PlayStation 4 down the line, I'll probably wait until that console is cheaper and gets a slim model. Having said all of that, as we enter into a new generation of hardware, I'm more excited than ever to venture into the world of PC gaming.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.