Opinion: Xbox One – The console that used to be different

Last week, Microsoft took yet another step in becoming just another game console. Microsoft confirmed for multiple outlets that they will be doing away with their Xbox Entertainment Studios division, thus adding another of the features initially announced with the console to list of throw-aways. Yet while the collective gaming community cheered as a result of the move, I was left upset.

People didn’t cheer for good, hard working individuals losing their jobs as a result of this move. The cheer was that it put an end to one of the Xbox One’s major defining features — one that a lot of gamers and consumers felt should never have been there in the beginning. I, on the other hand, was left with a question: why do I own a Xbox One now?

Don’t get me wrong, the primary use for my Xbox for me is gaming. I’ve played pretty much all of the exclusives on the system so far and I left E3 more excited for Microsoft’s Holiday lineup (especially after the game I was interested in on PS4 disappointed me). However, I didn’t choose the Xbox One over the PS4 in the beginning purely based on gaming. If I wanted pure power, I have my PC. If I wanted a gaming console that gave me the best graphics over it’s competition, the PS4 would’ve been the way to go in November.

I bought the Xbox One because it was different. It was different than the PS4 in a number of glaring ways, and it was different than it’s predecessors. To me, the Xbox One felt like a step into the future. Yes, I know people will read that statement and scoff, but bear with me for a few more paragraphs. The Xbox One, at one point, meant a different, more versatile version of it’s predecessor. To me, the PS4 was just a more powerful PS3. It did nothing differently. It still doesn’t do anything different. It plays games. You can watch Netflix and use other entertainment apps. Just like a PS3.

Gaming should have always been the number one focus by Microsoft, but the other features and ideas they had were what defined this console for the software giant. Ideas such as original programming that is only available as a Xbox user made me think that the console was worth the price. For families, who often buy these consoles as family devices, this for some could make the purchase more enticing.

The original vision of the Xbox One was clearly etched in it’s originally confusing naming convention. The Xbox One was your all-in-one-gaming-and-entertainment-system, as every press release reminds us. It literally controls my entire living room. I step into my room and say “Xbox On” and by the time my controller is in hand, my cable box, TV and console are all on and it’s signed me in by simply seeing me. It still does all these things, for me. But now there is an entire wave of Xbox owners, thanks to the Kinect-less package, that don’t experience this. A section of the fanbase that, while it’s better than launch, still have to fumble through the OS because the menus are still clearly meant to be navigated by voice.

When the console was revealed back in May 2013, I’ve stated multiple times I was on board with the policies and changes Microsoft was making to the console space. I was ok with the company focusing on more than just gaming, because for me, this purchase was about more than gaming. If I am going to spend 500 dollars of my hard-earned money, the console I am buying better do something drastically different than the console I’ve had the past 8 years. PlayStation 4 didn’t, but walking away from the Xbox One reveal, you could not deny that Microsoft was trying to change that landscape.

Now, fast-forward seven months since launch, and the console we have is a shadow of the version Don Mattrick stood in front of proudly. Now, what we are left with is a box that is more powerful than a Xbox 360 and PS3, but can’t catch the other console it competes against in pure power. There is no denying it: the Ps4 is simply a more powerful system, and now that both consoles essentially do the same thing, why would you spend your money on an inferior system. Especially if they are now the same price?

A lot of people are happy with these changes. A lot of people said Microsoft has earned their support back as a result of them backtracking and retracting their ideas. I would have more respect for Microsoft if they had just stuck to their guns at this point. Now, with the loss of XES, my Xbox One has lost another part of what made it unique. It is slowly, but surely, becoming nothing more than just an inferior PS4 in every aspect.

Please don’t read this as “Bradford is leaving Xbox!” No, not in the least. I will still continue to support Microsoft with my money because I still enjoy the products they produce. But as someone who bought into the initial vision and enjoyed the fact their “next-gen” console truly did something different than last gen, I can feel nothing more than just sadness over my purchase now.

4 comments

  • Well thought out article as always Bradford and you bring up some great points that all of a sudden make this news kinda depressing. Keep up the great work though man. Don’t regret your purchase, you get The Master Chief collection ;_; I want it…

  • I have to admit that I also bought the XBox One because of the entertainment features in the beginning. It was a rough start with the family to get the voice commands to work. It started off with everybody hating it except for me. However, they voice commands have saved the day every time the remote disappears. It is now even moving beyond the room with the XBox where the family will say XBox, lights on as they walk into a room. They are really hoping that XBox will expand to full home automation.

    Great article, Bradford. I hope you continue to feel the uniqueness of the system.

  • I bought the XBox One for the exclusive games only since it appears that PS4 is the place to play multiplatform titles this gen (unless you have a monster PC). That being said, I’m looking forward to the MC edition, Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 this fall.

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