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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Xbox One reveal light on games, big on console capabilities and used-game confusion

The long-awaited reveal of the new Xbox console from Microsoft happened May 21. It lasted roughly an hour and focused mostly on the console's capabilities. Many gamers seemed upset at this, but E3 is coming up and Microsoft is promising a heavier focus on games during their big presser there.

The Xbox One (interesting name) looks bulky. It will feature a Blu-ray drive, 8GB of System Memory, an 8-core CPU and a 500 GB HDD, along with a new and improved Kinect that will be bundled with every console. A big focus was on live TV, having the Xbox One hook up with cable and use the Kinect to change channels simply by saying a TV station. I'm very skeptical if it'll work that great, but it's very nice in theory. The controller looks nice, too.

Do you like sports? There was a lot of that. EA Sports games in the console's first year include Madden NFL 25, a UFC game, NBA Live 14 and FIFA 14. Interestingly enough, FIFA 14 will have exclusive Ultimate Team content on Xbox One, which could have huge implications over in Europe where the franchise is hot on rival Sony's PS3.

In my "WHAT!?!" moment of the reveal, Steven Spielberg announced he will be involved in bringing a Halo TV series exclusively to the console. I don't think any one really asked for this.

What about games? There was very little of that, although they promised 15 exclusive titles in the console's first year -- eight being new IPs. Remedy Entertainment showed off a peculiar trailer for Quantum Break, which mixes live footage and actual gameplay. Apparently it's about mastering time to survive the present and save the future. Forza Motorsport 5 made an appearance, as well as the expected Call of Duty: Ghosts. The new dog companion became a big hit online.

No price was announced (probably at E3) and the release date is sometime this year (a concrete date probably at E3).

Xbox One's ability to play used games, as well as having to always be online, were hot-button issues after the conference. Massive confusion ensued when media started reporting that users will have to pay a fee to play a used game on their account, but Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live, aka Major Nelson, commented on his blog that there are potential scenarios being discussed, and when playing at a friend's house, "there is no fee to play that game while you are signed into your profile." "Your profile" but not your friend's? That has fee written all over it. Hopefully everything becomes clearer come E3.


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