Everything you need to know about Microsoft's announcement last night.
By Tim Colwill on May 22, 2013 at 10:25 am
Microsoft revealed the existence of the Xbox One overnight, unveiling their new “all-in-one entertainment system” in a performance that seemed to continue the company’s trend of focusing on TV, Skype and music over actual video games.
Unlike Sony, Microsoft actually did show what their console looks like, and you can see it here. Underneath the hood it’s all a bit vague, but Microsoft are promising an 8-core x86 processor (meaning all next-gen consoles are now on par with the PC — good news for console ports), 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive (which is not replaceable or user-servicable, but you will be able to use external storage as a primary drive through USB 3.0).
Multiple power states will help it conserve power, as it’s designed to boot instantly on voice command. It will also feature a Blu-ray player and HDMI passthrough — so that you never have to use any other device again. It is not backwards-compatible with existing Xbox 360 titles.
The Xbox One will ship with something called “Xbox One Live TV”, which will enable you to control your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your Xbox. This will, of course, only be available in the US at launch.
Every Xbox One will ship with an improved version of the Kinect, which Microsoft are now touting as essential to the Xbox experience — in fact, it won’t work without a Kinect attached. In a delightful bit of Kinect-related hilarity, users trying to watch the Xbox One reveal on their current Xboxes found that the demonstration voice commands coming from the live stream were picked up by their current Kinect, causing the stream to continually pause and drop out. Take a read, it’s beautiful.
According to Microsoft’s hardware program manager John Link, the Kinect is “always listening”, but user privacy will be “a top priority” for the team and the device will only be looking for specific activation commands when not in use.
Why might you want to worry about being listened in on? Well, because…
You’ll need to connect to the internet once a day
My current Xbox console sits in the living room unconnected to the internet — which isn’t something you’ll be able to do with the Xbox One, according to Microsoft vice president Phil Harrison. Asked by Kotaku whether they would have to connect regularly to play a single-player game, Harrison responded with “I believe it’s (every) 24 hours”.
This is further explained at the official FAQ, which states the Xbox One: “does not have to be always connected, but does require a connection to the Internet. We’re designing Xbox One to be your all-in-one entertainment system that is connected to the cloud and always ready. We are also designing it so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection.”
So what does the Xbox One need with a constant internet connection?
It’s because you need to activate each game
When you buy an Xbox One game you’ll be given a one-use only activation code, which locks that game to your Xbox LIVE account over the internet. Any user on that console can play it for free, but if you want to take your disc to your friend’s house, you’ll have to pay a fee — and not just a one-time activation fee, but the full price of the game. Again.
“The bits that are on that disc, you can give it to your friend and they can install it on an Xbox One,” claimed Phil Harrison again. “They would then have to purchase the right to play that game through Xbox Live.”
When asked by Kotaku whether they would pay the same price as a user who purchased it new in stores, Harrison said: “Let’s assume it’s a new game, so the answer is yes, it will be the same price.”
However, Harrison also explained that Microsoft had created a solution to allow players to sell their used games to other players online. He declined to discuss the specifics of this solution.
But how about the games?
Microsoft spent the majority of the presentation discussing how you could watch the NFL through your Kinect, but don’t worry — the Xbox One will also play games. The only games so far announced for it (beyond the major AAA releases such as Assassin’s Creed 4 and Battlefield 4) were Call of Duty: Ghosts, Forza 5, and something called Quantum Break by the team behind Alan Wake and Max Payne.
If all this has you excited you can (of course) slap down a pre-order for the Xbox One over at places like EB Games for the completely fictional price of $899. No actual Australian RRP has been confirmed (and, in fact, no international features were confirmed at all, such as what Australians would get instead of the NFL).
You can find out more at Microsoft’s official site.
Sony’s stock rose 9% after the Xbox One announcement (but it’s probably not related).