The Xbox One reveal set a disturbing precedent for this generation to come. This event was literally the biggest event for Microsoft’s Xbox team this year, the big reveal of what the next generation holds, and what did we get? SPORTS, TV, SPORTS, KINECT, SPORTS, SOCIAL, SPORTS, SKYPE, SPORTS, SPORTS, SPORTS, and also SPORTS!!! Man, we are going to watch sports so much harder than we ever had before. Aren’t we lucky that we have such an advanced sports machine at our fingertips? That’s the next generation for you.
Now, I don’t have anything against sports. I enjoy the Super Bowl as much as the next unathletic anti-social kid who drowned his sorrows in the world of gaming. But, the Xbox One conference felt a little bit too much like high school to me. Sports were everywhere. Where was all the gaming?
Think about this for a second. How many games did we really see at the Xbox One event? Four? Maybe eight if you count EA’s sports line-up as individual titles. That’s not a whole lot for a console reveal. And how many of those titles weren’t sports titles? Two! Quantum Break and Call of Duty: Ghosts. And how many of those titles actually showed off gameplay? Zero! All we saw were some high def scans of a dog and some live action shots of a creepy little girl cut together with game engine footage of a ship crashing.
For a console reveal the Xbox One event said practically nothing about the games you will be able to play on the console. We know that game consoles are slowly becoming life machines that do much more than gaming. We also know that Microsoft is probably saving the big reveals for E3 so that they can compete with Sony. But, how can anyone say that they are excited about the Xbox One when we have seen practically nothing about what the system can do? I’m not trying to be a Sony fanboy here, but at least Sony showed off several new titles such as Killzone: Shadow Fall, inFamous: Second Son, The Witness, Deep Down, and more.
I’m also not trying to rag on sports games either. But, Microsoft’s deep focus on sports titles shows that they aren’t really trying to market themselves to gamers anymore. They basically embraced the idea of being the jock console. They are marketing themselves to people who don’t really play video games other than Madden and Call of Duty. They want to be the way you watch TV (especially sports), listen to music, watch movies, and Skype your friends, but not the console you play games on. Sure, it’s nice that your fantasy league has its stats updated in real time, but wouldn’t that be cooler if it were say, stats in a game’s multiplayer mode?
This is, frankly, kind of worrying. It’s true that gaming needs to be opened up to the greater public, but is this really how we do it? Do we really give up all the things that made gaming great? Are we OK with the next big Halo reveal being a TV show? The Xbox conference started with a roll of game developers talking about how much they were excited about the Xbox One, and how it will be able to let them make games like no one has seen before. Where the heck were they during the presentation?
The Wii U is on the ropes right now because it didn’t have a powerful launch line-up. It has tons of cool features, like the ability to turn your console on with the Wii U tablet and full integration with your TV services, but we already have TV remotes for that. No one is buying Wii U’s because there’s little reason to own one until that killer app comes out. The Xbox One didn’t have a killer app either (nor did the PS4 for that matter). The closest it had was its early downloadable content release agreement with Call of Duty.
Now is the time to tell game companies that this isn’t what we want for our consoles. Seriously, stop being excited. Stop hyping up the Xbox One and PS4 until you actually see what they can do. Stop playing favorites and supporting either of these consoles just because you own their older counterparts. Tell the AAA companies that we want to see games, and we won’t be purchasing your console until we do. Otherwise, the next Xbox might treat games as an afterthought. Call of Duty? What’s that? But hey look, our Xbox can let you use a word processor now!