Kinect to the Rescue: Defending the Xbox One

Xbox One

Sony vs Microsoft

Earlier in the week, I wrote about how even though we’re five months away from either console hitting store shelves, Sony’s PlayStation 4 had already knocked out Microsoft’s Xbox One and had handed Sony the next-gen console crown.

I made sure to note at the end of the article that I was, in fact, going to get both consoles. After writing about why I thought Sony had won the war, I started to think about it… a lot more.

It’s easy to see that if you look around the internet, you’ll find that just about everyone is doing everything they can to emphasize how upset Microsoft’s policies regarding the Xbox One have made them. What’s really interesting to see is that Sony is winning the next-gen battle by keeping things status quo from the current-gen. Very strange.

But sifting through the hate and looking at the differentiating factors between the Xbox One and PS4, I have to say: I’m far more excited about what the Xbox One than I am about the PlayStation 4.

Defending the Negatives

DRM on games? I rarely loan games out to friends (I’d be willing to, I just don’t have anyone ask. Which I’m fine with, by the way, thankyouverymuch.) I only buy used if I completely dropped the ball on a game and can’t find it new reasonably priced anywhere. (Ever wonder how many games you can get for $20-$30 new from Amazon or Best Buy just by waiting two months? Answer: almost all of them.)

A need to always be connected? I used to bring my GameCube with me when I went to my grandparents’ house or had a long car ride. It was tiny and had a tiny screen that fed off the same power adapter as the GameCube. Since then, I haven’t brought my consoles anywhere, aside from a friend’s house here or there for a Rock Band party. I’m not “heading up to the log cabin,” which apparently everyone has now, where there’s no internet and my Xbox One becomes a $500 Blu-ray player. I live in an area where there’s reliable internet. Sure, my internet has been out for more than 24 hours at times – but only when my electricity has been, too. I’m not worried about this in the slightest.

Big Brother watching me? This is creepy, and it’s the hardest to defend. I don’t want a Kinect… or a webcam… or anything, for that matter, watching my every move, especially when it’s always connected to the internet. Microsoft has come out and said you can completely power down the Kinect, though, and I’m not all THAT concerned with privacy violations. Also, the new Kinect looks awesome, which I’ll get to in a little bit.

The “nail in the coffin” during Sony’s E3 press conference on Monday night was the PS4’s price tag that is $100 less than the Xbox One. $100 is nothing to sniff at, as you can make that money go a long way. However, there are a few things to note:

  1. The Xbox 360’s lifecycle, from launch date to the Xbox One’s launch date is eight years. A $100 difference over 8 years is just over twelve bucks a year. A dollar a month. That’s a negligible difference. Also note: This eight-year cycle doesn’t include the years of support that Microsoft has pledged to it even after the Xbox One’s launch. (In fact, Microsoft may continue to support the 360 if only as a way to appease gamers without a steady internet connection; Microsoft’s Don Mattrick (essentially the President of Xbox) said, “Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity; it’s called Xbox 360.” Oof. Nasty and condescending, but at least it sort of affirms ongoing support from the company.)
  2. The Xbox One has an entire live TV and DVR feature that the PlayStation 4 does not. This isn’t even a point of contention. Sony didn’t try to tackle this market, and Microsoft did. If it works as well as it seems to, I can essentially ignore my TiVo (sorry, little guy) and run everything through my Xbox One. That’s worth $100, just to not have to change inputs. (Laziness wins again!)
  3. The Xbox One’s hefty $499 price tag includes the next-gen Kinect accessory included. Sony’s camera accessory, the PlayStation Eye, isn’t included and will retail separately for $59. If you want motion gaming (which seems to be hot right now, whether or not it’s implemented well), that brings the PlayStation 4’s price to $459, just $40 less than the Xbox One. That brings me to my next point, actually…

The Next Kinect Looks AWESOME

If the next Kinect lives up to half the hype that I’ve built for it in my head (based on stuff like this 10-minute walkthrough video), it will easily be worth the extra $100.

Before I get into why I’m so excited about the next Kinect, let me start by trashing the first-generation version. When it was first shown off at E3 a few years back, it looked like it could change everything. When I finally got it hooked up in my family room (literally the only room in my house that would support its insane space requirements, and even then it only barely did so), let’s just say it didn’t quite change much of anything.

The first Kinect had a few really cool games – The Gunstringer was one of the most fun titles I played all of last year, full-body Fruit Ninja is infinitely better than the mobile version, the Kinect Sports games are (for the most part) all home runs (pun maybe intended?) and my sister has a great time with the Dance Central games. But for the most part, developers had no idea how to implement the Kinect into their games, since its responsiveness was less-than-ideal (and that’s putting it VERY politely) and it didn’t have great market penetration.

That’s all changing with the new Kinect, which is required to even power on the Xbox One. Every single living room with an Xbox One will have a Kinect, and this version shows incredible improvements. Being able to read your heartbeat, requiring FAR less space (Kotaku reports single-player games will only need you to be four feet from your TV, which is about half the distance the first one needed) and giving you the ability to control just about everything (including turning your system on!) with your voice is amazing.

Disclaimer: I’m an Xbox 360 Fanboy

I fell into a habit in this current cycle of video game consoles where I would buy every multi-platform game for the Xbox 360. Even though I have (and play) a PlayStation 3, Wii U, Vita, 3DS and high-end gaming machine, I reached a mindset where “I want to play video games” meant “I’m going to play 360.” That became a self-fulfilling cycle, as I would buy games for the console I was playing the most, only strengthening its hold on my video game mind.

Once I found out that little things like your Gamerscore would carry over to the Xbox One – and that the Xbox One would feature Achievements (and a new feature called Challenges) even more prominently and proudly than ever! – it was enough to get me more excited about the Xbox One than any of its challengers. (Especially considering the amount of time I’ve put into accruing my Gamerscore.)

I went into the console unveilings and E3 with a firmly pro-Xbox One mindset, and it hasn’t wavered even slightly since. It can be easy to dismiss the Xbox One as a privacy-eliminating, game disc-controlling, expensive toy. But features like the Kinect alone should get you excited about the Xbox One and the future of what Microsoft has to offer.

About Joey Lewandowski

Joey is the Manager of Content and Community at ShellyPalmer. With a journalism degree from Ramapo College of New Jersey, he's a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan, enjoys watching movies and loves all most things tech. You can follow him on Twitter @soulpopped.



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