Today it is official. The next generation of the Microsoft Xbox will be the Xbox One. Let’s get right into the important stuff from Microsoft’s event and the interviews that followed.
8 Core GPU
HDMI IN and OUT
- The new OS uses parts of Windows and an advanced version of the Xbox dashboard software to run multiple apps simultaneously. Leveraging a user’s Xfinity account, it allows for a plethora of tv viewing features. A tool dubbed Snap Mode brings up a sidebar on seemingly any screen of the dash and it can be customized to implement various other parts of the OS. For example, if the user is watching a sports broadcast, Snap Mode might show live updates to their fantasy league. Theoretically this will allow for cross-media usage with users perhaps watching a movie while a game is in matchmaking. It isn’t strictly limited to tv either, with support for things such as opening Internet Explorer in the sidebar while doing potentially anything in the main screen.
- Kinect’s newest iteration impacts the Dashboard in more significant ways than ever before. Using voice commands as well as new gestures like the “grab and drag” users can jump between a game, a tv show, the home screen, or Skype within seconds. Additionally the Xbox One can be powered on with the phrase “Xbox: on.”
- New to the dashboard is a tab labeled Trending. The tab displays popular content from users and the Xbox Live community at large. This content includes apps, specific tv shows, movies, games, and more.
- Achievements have been expanded but not yet in any specific ways. At present, the only information is “They tell your personal story of how you play, not just what you’ve done.”
It is wider, somewhat more flat, and does not have the traditional Back and Start buttons. Information on it has as of yet been hard to find. Microsoft has stated it boasts “40 technical and design innovations” but hasn’t been too clear on what exactly those are.
There were no live gameplay demonstrations and the only game shown in engine was multiplatform title Call of Duty: Ghosts. Following is a list of titles shown at the event:
- Quantum Break – a new, exclusive title from Remedy (Alan Wake, Max Payne).
- Forza Motorsport 5 – the new entry in the Forza racing franchise developed by creators Turn 10 is a launch title.
- Fifa 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA Live 14, and EA Sports UFC – all confirmed and shown in a CG montage trailer.
- Call of Duty: Ghosts – Infinity Ward’s newest multiplatform CoD title will continue Microsoft’s timed exclusivity of DLC.
And other random things
- It’s not quite always online, but the Xbox One does require an install for every game and that install validates through an Xbox Live account. Linking it to a new account requires a fee so in short, an internet connection is required at least the very first time you play any new game.
- Developers are allowed to use Microsoft’s cloud to assist in running games. Any games using this option will require an always-online connection.
- A connected Kinect unit is mandatory for the system to function. Kinect comes bundled with every unit.
- The friends list limit is extended to 1000.
- The Xbox One supports suspension similarly to how the Vita, 3DS, and PS4 do.
- Games are immediately available to play once an install begins.
- No backwards compatibility.
The rumors circled, the blogs hinted, the dust settled, and Gran Turismo 6 is official. During today’s GT 15th anniversary event in the UK, series creator Kazunori Yamauchi made it a thing. Not only is the game apparently much farther along than anyone could have guessed, but it’s scheduled for this year…on the PS3.
What’s more interesting is the lack of specificity regarding whether it will be released on PlayStation 4. Yamauchi himself said a next-generation version is “in mind” but not this year. “I thought the best scenario would be to have the game come out, then to have new scenarios, new DLC and other updates. Once the players have thoroughly played out the system, if the PlayStation 4 version came out naturally, as part of that process, I think that would be the best scenario,” he told Matt Kamen for IGN. Additionally, the PS3 Gran Turismo 6 will include every track and car from the previous game as well as downloadable tracks “every month.” It’s an intriguing way to push the game. In some ways it almost comes off as an expansion except it has more content…
Strange hybrid thing aside, it is Gran Turismo 6. New engine, 200 new cars, all that stuff. We’ll see it on the PS3 this year.
And maybe on the PS4. Later. Or never. But probably later.
Yesterday, the wonderful folks at Guerrilla Games released this PDF of nonsense revealing what went into their recentKillzone Shadow Fall demo. The game was originally announced at Sony’s PS4 reveal event in February but without a release window. The 100-page document is quite a read if you’re into programming things like “2x back debuffers” but for the laymen, it also gives two other important pieces of information: Guerilla is working on a new IP and Killzone Shadow Fall will be a launch title for PS4. Good on ‘em.
I want to begin this by saying I’ve been in a constant internal debate on this topic for years now. This piece merely states my current opinion on the subject.
I don’t think online passes are that bad. Let’s back up. Recently, publishers have included one-time-use codes with their games for purchasers to input allowing access to some (sometimes significant) portion of the title. The online pass is EA and Sony’s primary means of sectioning off content. You buy the game, you have to use the online pass to activate the game’s online components. The entire process is aimed at cutting down on the epidemic of people buying used copies of games from retailers such as GameStop. Theoretically, since the code can only be used one time, it would have already been redeemed by the person who sold the game to the retailer in the first place. Future buyers would be discouraged from buying that used copy of the game since it wouldn’t include a usable pass. In the event they still buy the game, the pass can usually be downloaded for something like $10, granting the same access the original owner had.
The notion that developers are essentially penalizing people who buy games used doesn’t grind my gears nearly as much as it seems to everyone else’s. Perhaps that’s because the design isn’t intended to hurt consumers. Yes, it does limit our buying options, but you know what limits them more? Studios closing! Purchasing used games means giving GameStop 100% of the profit for a game they didn’t make. While some publishers are certainly well off enough it really doesn’t matter if consumers buy games used, those sales numbers still make an impact on all the franchises and developers we hold dear. EA isn’t hurting too badly from that used copy of …say… Dead Space* you bought but those lower-than-expected sales numbers for the game certainly discourage them from investing more in the development team; discourage them from funding a sequel you may want.
Furthermore, let’s say EA went ahead and funded that sequel. They’re still itching to maximize profits. How about adding microtransactions? Maybe a tacked-on multiplayer mode? You see where this thread goes. The decisions publishers make are almost entirely dictated by an attempt to maximize monetary gain. Nothing (save for piracy) hurts that profit like the sale of used games. Buying used is just giving them a reason. We might hate the microtransaction business model but why are we then so unwilling to do things to combat its necessity?
Part of the answer is simple: used games are cheaper. While that is usually the case, it is rapidly becoming an invalid argument. Games are cheaper right now than they’ve ever been and they’re getting cheaper each year. Full-priced games are discounting more quickly and downloadable titles, which usually hover around the $20 price point, are also becoming an increasingly major part of the industry. Right now, you could pick up the console versions of Tomb Raider, Borderlands 2, and X-Com: Enemy Unknown brand new for less than $100 at most retail stores. These are all hit games released within the last eight months that are still quite relevant, being supported by large player bases and downloadable content. Then there’s also the elephant in the room, Amazon. Amazon almost always has new games on sale for 2/3 their full price within weeks or even days of their release. My point is, it’s so easy to get games on the cheap now that you don’t even have to try. Used games are barely cheaper, especially when you consider the used prices at GameStop are generally only 10% less than the new release rates.
My goal is not to say these practices are without fault. They do infringe upon our ability to be more social about the games we love. It bums me out that I can’t lend a friend my Uncharted 3 and have him try out the multiplayer** side. But I’d rather have to buy him that $20 game than contribute to a future that may not have an Uncharted 4. While I may be unable to say these anti-GameStop measures are wholly positive, I believe unequivocally used game sales are all negative. We can all dig a little deeper, wait a little longer, and help support the games we love.
*I realize there are sequels to Dead Space. I just had to think of a newer franchise from EA to make my pointSHUT UP.
**Oddly enough, Uncharted 3 even has a free-to-play downloadable version of its multiplayer component. It’s yet another reason not to buy used games.
This fresh ACIV trailer doesn’t tell nearly as much as we’d like to know about the new game, but it does have a rousing speech about pirates! If you’re in that line of work, this trailer gets you, man.