So what would Microsoft do to steal the thunder after Sony's pretty decent conference? Well, since I wasn't around to cover Sony's conference, I've decided to re-watch it and do a side by side comparison on (my) key points. But before that, let's take a look at where I'm coming from on my estimations. I, like many of my age group (25-30), started out with a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but my next console would be a Playstation 1, missing out on the whole Nintendo love of the 90's. After that I got a PS2 and I bought an Xbox 360 on release and got a PS3 some time after it's initial release.
But I'd still say that I lean mostly towards Sony if I'd have to choose because of their exclusives, but 5 years ago I would have said Xbox for the same reason, but as long as I can have both I don't have a favorite. So up to 2013 I have always thought Microsoft had the best put together press conferences, although Sony still had some interesting ones and their quirky marketing department was always good for a laugh. But boy, Microsoft dropped the ball on this one, and I have some thoughts and speculations as to why and how they could have done better, so let's dig right into a comparison.
I added the 'presenters' part mostly because I thought it would be funny doing a "Microsoft had two women on stage, AT ONCE!!!", but after giving it some thoughts I would say both sides win on this one. Microsoft had some big names but they sent so many people presenting so little and uninteresting stuff.
Sony had a pretty clear and classic straight to the point approach to their presenters, which is a very safe choice. Dull, but executed well. As for the presentation itself, Sony had a smaller stage but they filled it a lot better, the huge screens stretching around the room, the way people were seated, the way they used the screens themselves felt very well integrated to the conference.
Microsoft had the same setup they did in last years E3, and the year before that. The screen was really just used as a screen, not a part of the presentation itself. Point for Sony! *ding*
Information about the machine
I will be honest, it looks to me like they're pretty matched spec-wise. Presentations of the specs were pretty clear and consise on both side, though Sony's was a little more contemporary.
The funniest thing is that Xbox One comes with a Blu-ray drive, so I'm reaching out to you guys on this one, I sincerely want to know if this means Microsoft has to pay royalties to Sony now? They would have to had payed for a license to use it, but will they need to pay an annual fee or something? Things like these make me wonder.
So please comment on this page, write me on facebook.com/gameviews or twitter.com/gameviewsblog and tell me if you know the answer, or can make an educated guess. Points for both! *ding ding*
Sony has to lose this one just because they never showed the console. If I were to compare controllers I'd still say Microsoft won that one because Dualshock 4 looks a little over-designed, but it's hard to say until I actually get it in my hand. I hope they won't use the small touch pad in games too much.
My controller grip is pretty relaxed and low, so reaching for the pad with my thumbs seems uncomfortable and non intuitive, but the way the side pegs are designed it looks like your hand naturally slides higher on the controller. The Xbox One controller looks like it has finally mastered the 25 year old invention of a decent D-pad - finally - but it looks sleek and comfortable and not really much more to say.
It looks glossier and without any major changes. It appears that the pegs on this one are on a sharper angle, making you slide your hand naturally higher on the controller. That doesn't really matter though, as Microsoft wants you to neither play games nor use a controller if you have to play something. The Xbox itself looks just like my 1992 VHS player. I can't remember the brand, but I swear it had the same design. Neither gets a point!
Sony's theme was a focus on game development, social media and user-to-user interactions. Seriously, how can you fault that these three things should be the basics to aim for on a console? I saw some journalist and people say stuff like: "I don't play games to be social" Then don't! "I don't want friends to know what I play when I play it". Then don't share! These are nitpicks that are optional on the console, and I also want to call bullshit on statements like that. That is because I suspect extremely few people actually first make a profile on social media sites and then say that they don't want social media on their console.
What about journalists that would be applying for jobs for game news publishers to tell the world they don't want their friends to know they are playing, or don't want their optionally showed content to be shown? What do we want from game consoles? Games; check! Do you enjoy social media like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.? Check! Do you like to play with others or chat with friends? Check! These three things should only ever be added, not subtracted from the finished product.
Microsoft's theme? Sports, TV and TV-series. This is where I really felt Microsoft dropped the ball. You have one hour, just one, to wow people that are watching the press conference, and who do you think are watching? I think that's the question that got lost at their headquarters: "Who's watching?" This conference should be for gamers, because they are the ones watching the stream and will be all over social media talking about the conference. All the other stuff can be shown leading up to the release and at E3.
But the selected audience was sports fans and tech heads, the focus was heavily on using your Xbox as a media center, you know, like Sony did seven years ago. Also, this might just apply to me, but I have two remotes, one for my TV, one for my audio setup. Sure, I could say: "Xbox on" to turn it on, but if I'm already planning on playing games the controller is already in my lap. I would be willing to bet cash on that two years from now where I never ever think about it, I will still plop into my couch and start the Xbox with a controller, with my kinect facing the wall behind my TV. Two points for Sony! *double ding*
So what did they actually show? This, to me, is the most important category. Sony came on stage, spent the first 45 minutes talking about the PS4 itself, then went on to spend the next 80 minutes showing just a bunch of games and a pile of exclusive. It was just raining fun that day. They never showed the box itself, for whatever reason. Most likely the design was not finished or maybe it was to see what Microsoft did and make changes based on their reception.
Microsoft, on the other hand, spent the first 40 minutes talking about the game and showing off what it could do. It can change the output and channels on your TV if you play everything through it. So basically it can do everything it can now, just faster and change the channels on your TV. Does that mean that mine will be localized to Norwegian, or will I have to use my accented English?
Also, if you like fantasy teams in sports and have money for it, this is the console for you. Then they spent the next 5 minutes showing the annual EA Sport's games that we all knew were coming anyway, but EA apparently has a special deal with Microsoft now, without going into much detail, so the ultimate team function in FIFA 14 will be exclusive to Xbox One.
After that, they showed Forza 5, looking like it was made on and for the PS3, and finished with a rather impressive COD: Ghosts World premiere trailer. And writing this I remind you that this is a blog about games, so when I say Microsoft had barely ten minutes worth of content in their one hour presentation, I'd be generous. Definitely one point to Sony! *ding*
Enough joking and comparing. Let me focus on Microsoft. I have said all I wanted to say about the conference. It certainly looks like a pretty good media center box, but from what was considered the "hardcore gamers console", the presentation was horrid and lacking, and not appealing to the core audience at all.
I understand that you want to branch out. I understand that appealing to core audience gets you high sales the first six months and then low, while appealing to a more casual and broad audience allows for a sustained medium sale revenue. what I got from this was that you flipped it around. You should have appealed to the hard core crowd first, then, nearing release try to pull in the rest, giving early high sales and sustained medium after the initial rush.
Gamers are the first adapters of consoles and they're only going to buy one at a time. This Christmas Playstation 4 is seen as the 'game console', while right now I predict that the Xbox One will be the 'media center' box. Hopefully you have some goodies behind your back waiting for us at E3.
If the first five minutes were "this is what the console looks like, here's a short list of extra features and you can find the specs on xbox.com as of right now, now let's use the last 55 minutes to see some motherf***** GAMES" I would have jumped out of my seat with a fist in the air yelling at the screen, mind blown, press conference of the year, easy.
Instead I'm left with a bitter taste. I know it's all about the new console and not a game show, but I need to see what the machine can do, and by that I don't mean switching the channel slower than my thumb and remote can. I mean: Show us a tech demo, show us some videos, games or no, do a demonstration.
We can not even confirm that what we saw was real time and not recorded, simply representing what it will be capable of doing on release, because you already did that with Kinect and it's not nearly as accurate as you portrayed. I truly sincerely hope, leading up to release, you got more stuff to show us and get the core audience hyped. There should never be just one console on the market, competition breeds improvements and innovation.
I don't care what you call the box. We all laughed at the Wii and now people are turning to Xbox One, but the name doesn't really matter, it never has. Nintendo hasn't been calling their consoles Nintendo in over 15 years. I don't know who designed the box, but it looks like my early 90's VHS and it appears to be huge and pretty boring. But like I said, the controller looks ace and the Kinect will be in a shelf somewhere and if I have to use it, it will be facing the wall.
Can I say: "Xbox, turn on Playstation 4"? Or like, tell it to change the channel to PS4? That would be hilarious.
Can I say: "Xbox, uninstall Internet Explorer. Install Google Chrome"?