After many months of rumours, speculation and discussion on the next offering of Microsoft’s gaming console, details of the new Xbox have finally been revealed. Christened Xbox One, it is to be their third console, after the original Xbox in 2001 and Xbox 360 in 2005. It comes with an 8-core CPU, 500 GB of hard disk drive space, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and an integrated Blu-ray drive. More importantly, it also comes with an updated version of Kinect, a motion sensing input device, which is now to be far more accurate.
With the launch, Microsoft has made its ambitions very clear. Their focus is not to just make Xbox One the next version of their popular gaming hardware, but also an all-round living room entertainment device. Using voice-activation and voice commands, Xbox One was used in the launch to seamlessly switch between live TV and a video game. Whether all this manages to satisfy the narrower, but still considerable fan base of individuals who have eagerly waited for a long time for an improved gaming experience remains to be seen.
Before the launch, gamers and the gaming industry have been heavily debating what Xbox One would mean for used or pre-owned games. According to Wired, it seems that Xbox One games will require compulsory installation to the hard disk in order to run. The game disc is only used for verifying that you own the game.
So, as a direct result of this, it is likely that games will be inevitably linked to individual accounts and request an extra fee for each new account installation. This is not confirmed just yet, but it is not surprising given that the gaming industry has constantly voiced concerns about used games and their effect on sales.
Gamers on the other hand have expressed displeasure at this, though it has to be said that pre-owned games are still allowed in contrast to previous rumours which wanted them completely blocked. Whichever way the debate goes, the outcome will have far-reaching implications for the gaming industry in the near future.
One other aspect of the announcement has made the gaming community happier, particularly when set against previous rumours. Xbox One will not need a permanent connection to the internet. Rumours had been floating that this would have been the case. Blizzard’s Diablo 3 for example was heavily criticised when it made such a move. But, according to Kotaku, there could still be a periodic mandatory connection requirement for the console to operate, with the Xbox One logging in to the internet once a day.
With the release of Sony’s Playstation 4 slated for later this year too, 2013 is going to be a year which will shape the video gaming industry. Microsoft, at least according to the way Xbox One has been promoted and marketed so far, appears to have a very ambitious scope for their device, reaching beyond its core market and to an audience which will be viewing the purchase of this product as a comprehensive media device rather than just a piece of hardware to play games on. Whether this will alienate the original target audience or not is a question that cannot be answered just yet.