In the world of console gaming there are two main contenders that have been going toe-to-toe for years: Sony and Microsoft. Both the PlayStation and the Xbox series have enjoyed great success, their market shares are similar, and with each new generation of hardware both companies try to outdo each other in what seems a never-ending battle.
Things get heated when a new generation of consoles is heading towards the finish line, and the competition is fierce. If either one of the two giants makes a wrong move, it risks losing market influence for years to come.
It’s no mystery that Sony has already unveiled most of the details surrounding the PlayStation 4, with the console having been made official back in February. A bit late to the party, Microsoft lifted the veil off its next Xbox just a few days ago. Does it have what it takes to compete with the PS4? Let’s find out.
Xbox One – What We Know
It’s probably already obvious, but just to be clear, Microsoft’s upcoming game-console is called “Xbox One”, not NextBox, Xbox 720 / Durango / Infinity or any other moniker that surfaced over the past few weeks.
During the launch event, Microsoft answered some of the questions that have been bugging the gaming community for a while now. One of those questions concerns the console’s hardware specs.
According to the software giant, the Xbox One will pack an 8-core AMD processor, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, a 500 GB HDD, Blu-ray drive, HDMI In/Out, USB 3.0 support and Wi-Fi. True, not much has been unveiled. Fortunately, there is a bit of extra information in the form of rumors/leaks, suggesting that Xbox One’s CPU is a 64-bit x86 AMD Jaguar clocked at 1.6 GHz. The GPU on the other hand is rumored to be something similar to the Radeon HD 7790.
But getting back to what has been clearly explained by Microsoft, the Xbox One is pretty obviously an all-around multimedia console. A strong emphasis has been placed on the fact that the console features voice commands that can be used to switch between channels or check the TV guide.
On a related note, Microsoft has also revealed that a new TV series is in the works, based on the successful Halo video game series. The show is to be produced by Steven Spielberg. Additionally, MS has also teamed up with the NFL to offer exclusive NFL-related content, as well the ability to chat with other fans, access highlights, view statistics and more.
A handful of games have also been confirmed for a launch on the Xbox One: Call of Duty: Ghosts, FIFA 14, Quantum Break and Forza Motorosport 5.
Last but not least, a new Kinect will be bundled with the new console and a new controller will also be part of the package. Though the new controller seems to be more ergonomic than the current model, it doesn’t have the rich functionality of Sony’s DualShock 4 and it also lacks a touchpad.
Xbox One – What’s Still Rather Unclear
Though many questions have been answered during the unveiling of the Xbox One, a fair number of new ones were raised after the event. One of the most burning has been whether or not the console requires an internet connection to function properly. Another is whether there will be any restrictions for used games, and lastly, enthusiasts have also been eager to find out if the console is backwards compatible with Xbox 360 titles.
The answer to the last question is “no”. The One is not backwards compatible. Unfortunately, the other two questions are still shrouded in mystery.
Nothing is set in stone at this point, but judging from most of these interviews, the Xbox One will require an internet connection to take advantage of cloud services, among other features. However, the connection doesn’t need to be maintained permanently, although Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed how often the One needs to be connected to the internet in order to perform its “duties”. Reports have suggested that it could be a “once a day” cycle, but again, nothing is official.
Another bugbear is that, according to certain ambiguous answers, game discs will be tied to one Xbox profile. In other words, if you want to play a certain game on a second console, you will be able to do so assuming that you’ve logged into your Live profile. Rumors have suggested that it’s possible for “tied” games to be played by others (such as lending them to a friend), though a certain fee might be involved.
Unfortunately, no exact release date or price tag have been revealed, but an October Xbox One release date has been speculated.
All in all, there’s a lot more to know about the Xbox One before a clear conclusion can be reached regarding its potential, and how it compares to the PlayStation 4. So far though, Microsoft seems to have disappointed some gaming enthusiasts with the lack of clear answers on a handful of burning questions.
What do you think? Are you pleased or disappointed by the information shared by Microsoft thus far? Let us know in the comments section.
Vlad Andrici is editor for gforgames.com and writes about technology issues.