Microsoft Press Conference: Xbox One Will Cost $499
A cloud of confusion and frustration loomed over Microsoft this morning as the company kicked off E3 officially with their annual press conference.
Thanks to last week’s obtuse clarification of Xbox One features, Microsoft has only exacerbated the controversies surrounding the new console, most notably the requirement of a daily Internet connection, and the inability to lend or gift your games. If Microsoft intends to make up for bungled PR, they’re going to have to provide a reason for gamers to accept these restrictions, but unfortunately, the company did nothing to address or even acknowledge those issues head on. Instead, they apparently aim to ride out the backlash and hope that a slate of potentially excellent games will convince gamers to give up some of their consumer rights.
Based on what was shown, the company has more work to do on that front: the console comes with a steep price tag, especially in this economy, for what appears to be little reward. Games look somewhat impressive but nothing shown off today, with the possible exception of the just-announced Quantum Break, looked like a true killer app.
But before we get into that, let’s break down the biggest announcements first:
Xbox One will be priced at $499.00.
Xbox One will launch this November.
Xbox Points are being replaced with real world currency on Xbox One.
No load times for Dead Rising 3.
A built-in DVR for gaming is confirmed, and Microsoft has entered into a partnership with Twitch for broadcasting let’s play videos.
The new Halo for Xbox One will have dedicated servers.
World of Tanks is coming to Xbox 360.
First and foremost, Xbox One will cost $499.00 at launch. That is a steep price even with the console’s numerous features, mainly because the console comes with some unpopular poison pills, but also because we still don’t know how much games are going to cost. The assumption is that the average price of a game will increase from the current MSRP of $59.99, but with the games no longer truly re-sellable and players prevented from freely lending them or giving them away, any increase is going to feel punitive. It’s certain Microsoft has not seen the end of player backlash. The ball is now in Sony’s court.
The conference opened with an extended look at Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pain, followed by a brief look at some Xbox 360 news. The newest version of the 360 console (a sleeker, smaller version) was unveiled, as well as the news that Microsoft is rolling out its own version of Playstation Plus with a free games program for Xbox Live Gold members. The first two games announced to be available for free were Assassins Creed 2 and Halo 3. New games are coming to Xbox 360 as well, including World of Tanks, and a new game from Press Play Studios called Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. This portion of the presentation ended with an extended trailer for Dark Souls 2.
After the reveal of new Xbox 360 titles, we finally reached the Xbox One portion of the presentation, including a deeper look at some of the hardware and software like Xbox One’s smartglass and gaming DVR features, and changes to Xbox Live. Most notably, Xbox One comes with a feature called Upload Studio, which allows players to record and even edit their game footage, including the addition of commentary. Microsoft has also entered into a partnership with Twitch for the broadcasting of gameplay footage. In other words, go to hell, Youtube. Microsoft is also getting rid of Microsoft Points: Xbox One’s version of Xbox Live will simply use real currency. For more, see Devin Connors’ breakdown of hardware details, and Phil Hornshaw’s look at changes to Xbox Live.
Mainly, Microsoft made good on their promise to show off Xbox One’s games, starting with the reveal of a new title set during the Roman Empire called Ryse: Son of Rome. Resembling a mashup of God of War and Gears of War, the game is centered around a general named Marius Titus and appears to be set during the late Principate. Based on one level shown called “Dover”, it’s possible the game will feature some version of Rome’s conquest of Britain. Ryse had exceptionally pretty graphics with smooth transition between cutscenes and gameplay. Combat was also well done, right down to the fishscale formation pioneered by Roman Legions, along with some sword fighting which looked far more medieval in character. It will launch with Xbox One this November.
Among the more interesting reveals was, shockingly, Dead Rising 3. Taking a page from Grand Theft Auto V, it’s set in a fictional versio of Los Angeles called Los Perdidos, featuring a new protagonist and a supposedly greater degree of realism. (Presumably, the new protagonist, Nick Ramos, won’t spend his time constantly telling people he’s a photojournalist.) In addition, CD Project Red confirmed Witcher 3 is coming to Xbox One as well. That game will be completely free-roaming and set in an open world environment, “all built from hand-crafted, non-linear quests.”
Xbox One will also feature what appears to be, for lack of a better way to put it, a game development game called Project Spark. It’s essentially Minecraft on steroids allowing players to use tools in Project Park to create their own games. That said, it was never adequately explained what Project Spark is, exactly, continuing Microsoft’s maddening inability to actually describe the new console.
Other confirmed Xbox One games include: Killer Instinct; and new game from Insomniac called Sunset Overdrive; Forza 5; An interesting-looking title called Quantum Break; a new Halo, which will feature cloud computing, a “blistering” (don’t laugh) 60 FPS, and dedicated servers; a point and click adventure called D4; and Titanfall.
Technical problems abounded during the presentation, with frequent sound and video outages causing unintentional comedy for the audience. The worst such occurrence happened when EA and Dice presented footage from battlefield 4. An embarrassing interruption of the stream delayed their gameplay video for several minutes, and the audience responded with loud booing. This prompted one EA representative to petulantly snap “quiet!” while attempting to work through the humiliation of a botched presentation. While it might not be a fair comparison, one can’t help but wonder how Microsoft plans to handle the crush of millions of gamers forced to ping their servers daily just to play single player games if it can’t even handle a highly managed presentation like this.
Microsoft also stepped in it when, during the Killer Instinct demo, a rape joke dropped like a lead, poo-covered balloon. Not only was it in horrible taste, it also has become the most talked-about part of the conference. Once again, Microsoft completely fails to grasp the simple art of message management.
Game Front will be on the scene all week bringing you the best and worst from the E3 floor. Bookmark our landing page and keep checking all week.