SmashPad Reflects on Xbox One

With the Xbox One's announcement, my fellow SmashPad staffers and I react to what was shown and discussed at Microsoft's event.

Much like our speculation questionnaire, I asked my coworkers a series of questions about the information that we do have about the Xbox One. For as many questions as Microsoft answered, we were left with just as many more questions that we're eagerly waiting to be answered. Without further ado, here are our reflections on the Xbox One event:

1. Xbox One is certainly an interesting choice for the name of the next Xbox console. Did they pick a good name or will this name be confusing as the third Xbox console?

Alex Quevedo: "I don't think it will be too confusing. It will just end up being known as Xbox, just as a lot of peoples' 360s did."

Chris Selogy: "It's a very dumb name for somebody that has covered games since the original Xbox was around, but the Xbox 360 and Wii has shown that anything can work with a good idea and plenty of money for a big marketing campaign. The problem we have is trying to figure out the shorthand for the name, as Xbone and X1 aren't doing it for me."

Danreb Victorio: "Xbox One is a really bad name that will likely cause just as much confusion as the Wii U. I get the whole all-in-one thing, but I just don't see regular people understanding it. If they intend on keeping the name, I expect regular users to call it the X1 — it's all about the branding making sense with the console's history, and Xbox One just doesn't make much sense."

Filippo Dinolfo: "Considering the candidates for names that had been bandied about on the Internet, Xbox One is a much better name. Microsoft has wanted to have the “One Box to Rule Them All” since back in 2000 when they had put out the Ultimate TV boxes with DirecTV. Now though, with how much of a household name Xbox is, the One has a very good chance of being that living room center."

Jonard La Rosa: "I personally don’t like the idea of using such names that are chosen for the sake of marketing hype at the cost of identity. This is similar to Motorola naming their flagship device The Droid. Now no one knows that Android is an Operating System and the average person refers to all Android phones as “Droids”. It was a good move on their part profit-wise but I shake my head at the idea."

Patrick Mifflin: "I love it. It's the one name that nobody could have predicted because everybody associates it with the legacy Xbox, and it does do a great job of summing up what their goal is with the system."

2. What are your thoughts on Kinect being such a vital part of the Xbox One experience while also looking to be vastly improved with at least its voice control feature?

Alex: "Considering it looks to be much improved, I don't mind it. I think people are making too big of a deal of a "mandatory" Kinect. It appears to be a big driver, but not your only option."

Chris: "I refused to buy into Kinect because the controls seemed to be bad and the library was tiny and mostly terrible. It looks like the new Kinect is much improved and being built in means that support will be much greater, though I'm honestly more intrigued by the voice controls on the dashboard and their ability to make navigating the sluggish Metro dashboard a breeze."

Danreb: "I, for one, was extremely disappointed with the lack of good Kinect support with the exception of Dance Central. The new voice activated options, not to mention the fact that it's packed in with the console really should help this take off. Kinect really has loads of potential, combined with the abilities of the Xbox One."

Filippo: "They're definitely going for Kinect Integration everywhere. Microsoft wants this to be something that you don't think about. It's just there and works. If the voice control is as good as it seemed to be during the announce event, they might just have something."

Jonard: "I think it’s a good idea to run with their strongest gimmick/feature that no other franchise has. With the help of hackers and open source Kinect devkits, it has bloomed to be a much more reliable and interesting device. I can’t wait to see what I can do with it."

Patrick: "I really don't care about the Kinect integration one way or the other, but it better not be adding to the price of admission."

3. Do you like the look of the Xbox One, the new Kinect, and the Xbox One controller?

Alex: "For the most part, but wow is the unit itself fairly large. To a degree, it's understandable with what it has packed inside. Overall, the combination is pretty sleek."

Chris: "I actually like it a lot, though the amount of vents on the case looks like the amount of holes that the launch PS3 had to help heat escape. The slot-loading drive is a big deal for me, as the Xbox 360's flimsy tray always made me worry that my discs were more at risk to get scratched than the PS3 or Wii. The new controller looks quite nice, but I'd prefer a battery pack to be included with the option for AAs for those that want it."

Danreb: "I like that the Xbox One took a shift back into laying horizontally, and I do like the glossy and matte finishes, but I do not like the overall look of the shell. It looks like a really old VCR. Letting the device suck the CD in is a good touch though, because trays break too easily."

Filippo: "I'm quite pleased with how the new Kinect and Controller look. I'm comfortable with the Xbox controller, and this looks like just an evolution of what works. There isn't anything particularly offensive about the design of the system, but nothing really stands out as being particularly noteworthy either."

Jonard: "I like the look. It is definitely an important move for them to design the console like this despite resembling a Beta Max. As for the controller, all I care about is being able to play Street Fighter and not being able to press up and down at the same time with the D-pad."

Patrick: "It looks fine if a bit bulky. Honestly I'm kind of curious how it looks next to a legacy Xbox."

4. What are your impressions of the TV DVR/Cable Box features of Xbox One?

Alex: "I would have liked it more if it was a cable replacement, but I like it enough already. As lazy as it seems, it is a minor pain to have to switch inputs."

Chris: "My personal cable situation is probably trickier than most due to using a local cable company, but I would be surprised if I could even use it. It would be nice to be able to just say the channel names because figuring out where certain channels are is more of a hassle than I'd like."

Danreb: "I don't have cable or DVR, so those features don't really affect me. I do have to admit that it's pretty cool to change channels on the fly, though."

Filippo: "The problem is, if that's going to be one of your platform's pillars, it had better be available to everyone. I don't think that's going to be the case as they've already said the TV/DVR will be available in North America first and elsewhere some time later. Availability aside, if it works well, I could see myself actually subscribing to cable to take advantage of it."

Jonard: "Personally, I would have liked it if the Live TV was an option without having to use an input from my cable box. These days I feel like On-Demand is taking over the living room. Going this route sort of just perpetuates the dying format of cable TV."

Patrick: "I couldn't care less. That whole segment was tantamount to a Cammie Dunaway waste of time from an old Nintendo E3. Show me the games."

5. We don't know much about games on Xbox One just yet, but EA Sports and Call of Duty says that Microsoft is still focused on top-tier games and exclusives. Microsoft themselves have promised 15 exclusives of their own in the first year, so what are your thoughts on the limited view of Xbox One's lineup after this event?

Alex: "I thought it made sense, considering the name. Xbox One— the central hub to your entertainment experience and more than just a gaming system. The games will come."

Chris: "The lineup that Microsoft had for the first few years of the Xbox 360's life had much more variety and unique content than they've offered in the past few years, so I hope the dozen exclusives left are much more creative and unique than what we've seen so far. Throwing Indies to the side may prove to be a fatal mistake down the line as I've already seen studios potentially interested in Xbox One development turning their focus to Steam, PlayStation 4, Vita, and PS3."

Danreb: "Other than Quantum Break, none of the other games actually appealed to me. They all seemed like run-of-the-mill titles that you've seen on the Xbox before. I mean, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Forza… this is nothing new, and I don't see them appealing to those who have no interest in that type of game."

Filippo: "With a one hour event and E3 coming up in a few weeks, I wasn't really too surprised to not see so many games. What was a little disappointing was that we only really saw trailers and sizzle reel type stuff. Maybe they're holding onto the good stuff for E3, but it wouldn't have hurt them to show one good live game demo."

Jonard: "As long as Triple A titles consist of cannibalized, oversaturated franchises then I don’t care too much. Big corps are killing the hardcore scene and mobile games + children are devaluing video games but no one is talking about the Indie Scene! Difficulty in games, importance with narrative, and creativity seem to only sprout from indie dev houses and these are the gateway—games that’ll bring these iPad wielding toddlers to the hardcore scene."

Patrick: "I think it could suck-start a Ferrari. 'We've got Madden and CoD?! Stop the presses! This is HUGE!' Time would've been better spent on stuff we couldn't already take for granted."

6. To say that supplementary information on Xbox One after the event has been all over the place is an understatement. What are your reactions to the back and forth news about used games, DRM, and all the other weird rumors and sort of confirmations that have gone wild today?

(Editor's note: Polygon reports that there will be no fee for used games, but there will be regular DRM authentication checks. No official word from Microsoft yet, though.)

Alex: "Simple: Get your stuff together by E3, Microsoft. "

Chris: "The longer that I see Microsoft refuse to spill the details on the important issues, the more I'm convinced that they're as bad as we're hearing since no good PR team would let these rumors persist if they weren't true. Microsoft can't just stick their heads into the sand if they're actually planning these anti-consumer restrictions for online connectivity and second-hand games. My online connection is just shaky enough that I get booted from Xbox Live occasionally as it is, so Microsoft's reactions to the rumors hasn't given me much confidence in them being wrong."

Danreb: "I understand the used games fee, and it'll be interesting to see how companies and retailers like GameStop respond. Also, while backwards compatibility isn't the most important feature, it will make people feel salty. Xbox Live did a lot to bring the fighting genre back onto the scene, and those kinds of games are timeless through different generations. The fact that people won't get a chance to play those games on the newest console is frustrating."

Filippo: "You can still buy used games, oh but you have to pay a fee to buy a license, oh but you can play it at your friend's house if you sign in to your account, Indies can't self-publish, ect… If you're not able to explain what you're doing, then you're doing it wrong."

Jonard: "Personally, being a broke college student I wouldn’t want the internet-always-on DRM just so I can personally sell games to others (no trade-ins) but with the current trend of cloud subscriptions it looks like this is the future standard. I don't mind that."

Patrick: "I honestly didn't leave interested enough to check up on it."

7. Announcing all of this a few weeks before E3, what do you expect from Microsoft at E3 when they can officially clear up the confusion to give us the rest of their next-gen picture?

Alex: "Their E3 will be almost exclusively about games—expected launch titles, a used games plan and just how required Xbox Live is required."

Chris: "I hope they spend the short break before E3 clearing up the confusion so that we can get to the more exciting part of a new console: games. We didn't get much of a glimpse of the lineup this week, so I need to see a lineup of new experiences and IPs that shows me that they're not just making more of hte same. The Xbox One iteration of XBLA will actually be a more important part of their presentation for me."

Danreb: "Like Sony, we don't know the release date of the Xbox One, so I'd expect that and the pricing first and foremost. A lot of talk was made about the new exclusives to the console, so I'd expect to hear about all those."

Filippo: "I expect that leading up to E3 they'll be doing a lot of damage control, but at E3 itself they'll focus mostly on the upcoming games. E3 is where they can control the message, and they'll spend that time focusing on the system's strengths, rather than confirming or denying various points."

Jonard: "I’m not sure, they probably have really polished pre-rendered trailers of Triple A titles and a Halo TV Series announcement. I’m hoping for the realistic in-game physics and graphics rumors to clear up though. Then maybe a Final Fantasy: Real-Life + Oculus Rift announcement?!"

Patrick: "They better impress the hell out of me at E3. Sony came out in February and made it clear that I, as a gamer, am central to their next-gen plans. Microsoft gave me no such assurance, or even indication. As things stand now, of course I'd like to play Forza 5, but I can certainly live without an Xbox One. I'll get by on Gran Turismo 6 for my sim racing fix if need be."

8. How has this event changed your view of Sony and the PlayStation 4 going into E3? What do they need to do in response to Microsoft's announcements?

Alex: "I think it will help Sony clarify any upcoming announcements they have and make sure they have EVERYONE on the same page. If they (Sony) don't have an answer for something, they just won't half address it; they'll wait."

Chris: "Sony has enjoyed the benefits of announcing the PS4 before the GDC, but now they need to step it up and let us know if the goodwill they've received was deserved or not. I don't have any worries about the lineup their stable of first-party studios will have ready for the show. I mostly want to see the rest of the PlayStation 4 picture as far as what the OS and PSN have to offer to truly blow past the PS3's issues to make them strengths for the PS4."

Danreb: "If anybody didn't notice, Sony's stock actually went up shortly after the Xbox One announcement, and as of right now, (aside from Nintendo) Sony is at the front of the hype race. They don't have a marketing and research problem with their branding (because PS4 is a consistent name), and we saw some interesting exclusives and third party titles that'll set the console apart. Microsoft made a big deal about the streamlined media experience that the Xbox One will feature, but news flash—the PS4 and Wii U both do the kinds of things that were shown today… just in different ways."

Filippo: "So what does Sony have to do to respond? They don't have to change anything; All they need to do is stay their course. I think they're headed down the right road as they are. I already know that I want a PS4. I am not yet convinced that I need an Xbox One."

Jonard: "If anything, it has changed my view of not paying for a Playstation Plus sub. Maybe the exclusives and game discounts are worth it! Their controller looks kind of weird but I’ve always felt their controllers were the most ergonomic. Sony just needs to keep doing what they’re doing."

Patrick: "Honestly, my view of Sony and the PS4 has only improved. It's clear that this is the console built with me in mind, and all that's left is to show me what I'll be playing on a system I'm already guaranteed to be picking up this fall."

With the Xbox One announcement out of the way, it's almost all clear until E3 begins in just over two weeks from now. It's scary just typing that up. Head to the comments section to sound off with your own opinions!