Microsoft’s next generation console

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Today was the live conference of Microsoft, presenting their next generation gaming console for the gaming market.

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This worldwide presentation started with the announcement of the next generation for the Xbox360, called the Xbox One.

The Xbox one has 8Gb RAM, comes with a bluray player and a 500Gb harddisk. This is just a bit of the information we got sofar, more details are to be expected over the coming days and weeks. E3 will shine even more light on this console and its games. As the presenter told us, this console will run on three different OS’s at the same time:

– one for the display of Cinematics (sounds to me like a graphics engine)
– one for Windows Kernel (Windows 8 like)
– and one to connect the first two together (like an interface OS)

The console can ofcourse use all of its previous hardware such as the Kinect, the Smartglass and the controllers.

In my eyes is the gaming console no longer a game console only, but also a big multimedia device, integrated into your daily life. I feel that’s a shame that a game console isn’t a game console only any longer: it means that they don’t have their focus on the gamer but at an entire range of people in the household. Perhaps that’s just the future however.

The Kinect Camera is extremely improved on the Xbox One. The ‘eye’ will see every movement of every arm, leg, hand, wrist etc. It will even recognize all different hand and arm movements.

Even your voice gets recognized, as you will now be able to command your whole console around and control important functions while playing, without touching one menu button.

“Xbox Power On” will simply start your console up.
A “Watch TV” command will switch your console to TV mode, “Xbox Game” will switch you immediatly back to the game you were playing. etc etc.

Skype is fully integrated into the console. Now that Skype is a Microsoft owned product, it was probably easier to implement this software and to allow certain premium functionality. With skype you will be able to have multiple conversations at once like you are used to, but on top of that you can multi video conference with your friends without having a premium account (note that this might actually be included with your Xbox Live subscription).

The TV plays apparantly an important role. The TV will come with a TV Guide and the console (or is it actually the OS Windows 8) has a new snap function that snaps a quarter of your screen for your web browser or any other app and uses the rest for the main app. TV can also be controlled by the voice. Favourite channels and favourite scenes, complete with interesting related info can be seen while the movie is playing.

Among your start screen is also the option Trendy. On the Trendy channel you see everything that is trendy on that moment for that category on the Xbox One.

The new Xbox Live will play a big part into this. Xbox Live for the old Xbox had only around a 5000 servers. When the Xbox360 was launched, they had to have more servers, upto 150.000 of them. For the Xbox One they will need to expand their server park with just another 300.000 servers to serve the thousands of requests.

Logging in to the console required you to select your character from a screen before (Xbox360). With the Xbox One, the Kinect camera will recognize who is playing and log you in to the right profile upon startup.

The Xbox Live servers will save about everything related to your account or your game.

As extra functionality it was said that the Xbox One comes with an inbuilt DV-R over the cloud, meaning you can record your gameplay to videos that you can edit online and share with others. Let’s “Let’s play” away!

As for the gaming side of things, here EA Sports had to present their catalogue of upcoming Sport games, MS Game Studios presented together with other studios completely new franchises and continuation of existing franchises.

A total of 15 game titles are to be launched in the first year of Xbox One. 8 of those game titles are entirely new franchises.

Some highlights out of this game title presentation:

– Fifa 14 and other (American sports games)
– Forza Motorsport 5 (by MS Game Studios)
– Quantum Break (a new storytelling game by Remedy, shaped by your choices)
– Call of Duty Ghosts (with high quality graphics and animation)

Otherwise Steven Spielberg is making some sort of film with story series of the Halo series. In other words, no Halo game but a series in which story will be told.

This was just a preview with already a lot of information. The next point of information is on E3 where Microsoft will have a keynote presentation as well as several demo’s all over the Expo. E3 will start on the 11th of June 2013.

At a later interview with Microsoft it was confirmed that the old Xbox 360 games cannot be played on the new Xbox One console. Also games that you buy and play get bound to your account. How this in the end will work out for borrowing a game from a friend or buying a used-game from another player or your local store, isn’t known yet. I believe even that Microsoft doesn’t precisely know this yet at this point in time.

Your best bet to know more is to go to Microsoft’s own knowledge base:
http://news.xbox.com/2013/05/qa

My feelings sofar: very mixed. This is no longer a game console only, but a big media computer with high cinematic graphics. It is though a very solid console or system with great opportunities and functionality, but we still have to see how well this will work when it is released and how popular it will become.

Game on

The Game Mistress and Steven

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