Xbox One Problems – Issues that could sink the ship
Xbox One Problems
Phones come and go. New versions fly out every year.
However, the Xbox One already faces a barrage of problems that could see it stumble and fall before it has even been released. Here are the worst offenders.
The PS4 is more powerful
The Xbox One has to compete with Sony’s PS4, just as the Xbox 360 has to do battle with the PS3 and the first Xbox had to contend with the PlayStation 2.
However, this time things clearly aren’t in the Xbox series’s favour. To start, both consoles will arrive at the same time, November 2013.
In the two previous generations, the consoles were released around a year apart. This time they’ll be rabidly competing for the lucrative Christmas rush, alongside the iPad 5. Times are tough.
For gamers, the Sony PS4 has a pretty strong draw over Microsoft’s console. It’s more powerful, with a beefier GPU, and faster RAM.
In previous generations, graphical fidelity has always been the top factor to show off at a console’s launch. And if the Xbox One seems fundamentally less impressive as a console, it will be in trouble.
For a more in-depth look at this issue, read our tech tear-down of the Xbox One hardware.
The Powerbrick is Back
Some say Microsoft has tripped-up with the Xbox One’s internals. And the same is said about its outside bodywork too.
The Xbox One is 10 per cent larger than the Xbox 360. It’s an imposing black box that’ll dominate many an under-TV area.
There are few excuses to make for the size too, as the giant powerbrick of the Xbox 360 makes a return this time around. The PSU isn’t built into the box itself, meaning the console takes up even more space than the box itself.
The size of the PS4 hasn’t been revealed yet, but judging by the previous generation’s designs, it’s likely to be more elegant. The PS3 wasn’t any larger than the Xbox 360, and squeezed the PSU brick into the main body. And it ran quieter.
Will its Lounge-Unification Work With Most TVs?
The Xbox One is out to dominate your living room with more than just its giant presence. Microsoft has positioned the console as an entertainment box, rather than a plain old games console.
Of course, this in itself is nothing new – the Xbox 360 can stream movies and music all day long. However, the Xbox One goes a step further, letting you control your TV using the Kinect sensor and mic – and, hopefully, the game pad too. It does this using CEC commands passed through an HDMI connection.
CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control, and is what will let the Xbox One send commands to the TV, enabling Kinect control of things like the TV’s volume and what channel is on. CEC has been part of the HDMI spec since the early days of the connection, however it has been updated over the years, and there may be compatibility issues with older TVs or PVR boxes.
ARC adds all the more potential for compatibility woes. ARC stands for Audio Return Channel, and is what will let the Xbox One transfer sound (rather than just video) freely between itself and the TV. ARC was only introduced with the HDMI 1.4 spec, which debuted in 2009.
Yes, that’s a while ago – but ask yourself, when was your TV made?
Unless your TV is a relatively recent model, there’s a good chance the Xbox One’s TV control won’t work properly. And, even if you have a brand-new model, it’s likely that we in the UK will only get limited TV features at the start – as is common, some of the best bits will be US-only.
It’s a feature Microsoft is focusing keenly on but it’s crippled and may not work well for many – hardy winning combo.
Could Xbox One DRM Kill Real-life Social Gaming?
The Xbox One wants to turn the game console into something the whole family interfaces with – rather than just the resident gamer. However, in other senses it’s much less inclusive than the previous-generation Xbox 360.
It uses a more intense form of DRM than its predecessor, designed to reduce piracy and give Microsoft more control over who plays the console’s games. With an Xbox 360, anyone with a game disc can play a game, but this time around it appears there will be some form of piracy protection that ties your Xbox Live ID to a game.
The result is that it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to borrow a friend’s game without incurring some extra cost. Microsoft is yet to fully detail how the copy protection works, but it sounds like the days of old-school game-swapping may be over.
Online sign-in could be a PR disaster
There are other tricky ramifications for the way the Xbox One works – using an internet connection to verify that you’re not doing anything naughty.
The Xbox One installs games to its 500GB hard drive, meaning the disc doesn’t need to be spinning while you’re playing. This freedom means the console needs to connect to the net intermittently to re-establish a link with Microsoft’s servers – a form of security.
Microsoft has said vaguely that it’ll need to do this one a day. In order to make this measure worthwhile, the Xbox One will have to more-or-less stop working if attempts to make this connection fail too many times.
For most people, this means that if your internet goes seriously awry – no more gaming. However, perhaps more seriously it makes them pretty much useless for those in conditions where a near always-on connection just isn’t viable, such as the armed forces.
This may not be something that’ll directly put a serious dent in Xbox One sales, but it’s not good PR for the console.
Always Kinect’ed – A privacy nightmare?
That squaddies won’t be able to spend their downtime killing faceless terrorists in Call of Duty: Ghosts is a minor public relations snafu, but the PR-fail potential of the inner workings of Kinect are massive.
Kinect is currently an optional Xbox accessory, a motion controller for those who like dance games and flailing arms sport titles or enjoy seeing motion controls awkwardly crowbar’d into traditional games. With the Xbox One, a Kinect will be mandatory. The console won’t operate without one.
The console comes with a Kinect sensor, so money-wise it’s no biggie. However, the way it holds data and the potential for claims of mis-use (or loss) of that data could become a worry.
Kinect needs to be ‘always-on’. It needs to watch you, all the time. And as it ‘learns’ as you use it, there’s a certain amount of data stored about you. Where do you think it will be stored? That’s right, in the cloud, on Microsoft’s servers.
This is what will make motion control gaming at other people’s houses possible – just sign in and the Xbox One will beam in learned information over the internet connection.
It’s clever, it’s sensible. But just imagine what the Daily Mail will make of it when it realises your inner-thigh measurements are stored in a Microsoft computer somewhere hundreds, or thousands, of miles away.
Compatiblity problems and potential scandals could seriously hurt the console’s launch, and with a muscular rival landing at the same time, this is not something the Xbox One can afford.
Issues or no, the Xbox One is one of the most exciting gadgets of the year. Will any of these problems put you off buying, though?
Next, read our in-depth comparison of the PS4 vs Xbox One
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