Microsoft announced their new Xbox console (the Xbox One) on Tuesday, which boasts amazing new technology that will make your entire entertainment experience significantly worse.
I'm not talking about specific games here, because they didn't really mention them. The presentation was an hour long, and the first shot of actual gameplay came 57 minutes in -- it was a brief glimpse of Call of Duty: Ghosts ...
It looks like this.
... with a side-by side comparison of that game versus the last CoD game on the 360, to show off the advances in graphics:
The differences are so startling, I don't even need to tell you which column is which.
Instead, they spent the whole presentation explaining how the system will take over all of your favorite electronic hobbies and make you hate them.
#5. You Can't Loan Games to a Friend, and Used Games May Require an Additional Fee
The good news is that you don't need the game disc to play an Xbox One game -- every game is required to be installed on the system's hard drive, and you just play it from there. The bad news is that there would be no way to keep people from just passing around the same disc and installing it on every system in America. "What?" you say, "That sounds like GREAT news!" You didn't let me finish -- to keep you from doing this, every time the disc is put into a new machine, the owner of that account will be required to pay full price before they can play.
"It's not our fault, we spent all our money designing the console's exterior!"
So no, you can't loan a game to a friend to let him try it -- once a disc is registered with one machine, it can't be used on another without that person paying full price. So is that the end of used games as well? Nobody knows -- Microsoft only told Wired that they "have a plan" for used games, but would offer no further details.
But, to make it up to you, they also announced that the Xbox One won't play your existing Xbox 360 games.
#4. Yes, the System Requires an Internet Connection
The good news is that while you do have to have the Xbox One connected to the Internet, it will only check once a day, so in theory, if your connection goes down, you could still play a single-player game for a bit ... but they said game makers are allowed to require a constant connection on any game they sell. But surely EA will make the right choice here, right?
Not to get too technical, but developers have the option of using Microsoft's cloud computing service to borrow some of its horsepower to run their game. Which sounds great, but that means when their servers go down (you know, the way the PlayStation Network once stayed down for more than three weeks), your game stops working completely -- even single player. Same if your Internet connection goes down. "We use the cloud to help run the game!" was the excuse for the SimCity disaster, in which millions of players paid $60 for the game, only to find that they couldn't play single player due to long EA server outages.
Thus the one-and-a-half-star rating on Amazon.
#3. Watching TV Will Require Waving Your Arms and Shouting at Your Screen
Microsoft stated that their goal was to make the Xbox One a "single device to provide all of your entertainment." As such, the console will let you watch live TV (oh, you'll still need your current cable box, too) and use state-of-the-art technology to overlay a never-before-seen feature called a "guide" that lets you see what's playing on each channel.
Which before now science had declared impossible.
To control all of this, every Xbox One will now come with a Kinect, the gadget that lets you control the device with hand motions and voice commands. That's why the game console requires the Kinect to be on (with its camera watching you) at all times.
"I'll have seen a million cocks within the first hour."
Now, instead of the incredibly laborious process of pushing your thumb down an eighth of an inch to press a TV remote button, you can use your hand to swipe through menus using a "smacking that ass" motion:
Or you can simply say "watch Game of Thrones" and it will switch to that show. That is, until somebody else on the sofa says, "Hey, did you watch the Ryan Lochte show last week?" at which point the system will presumably detect the "watch Ryan Lochte" command in the middle of that sentence and change the channel. If you are playing a video game, the system will flip to TV with the simple voice command "go to TV" -- before now, this was an impossibly convoluted process that required you to climb onto your roof and re-route several cables.
EDIT: I have been told that actually you can do this now just by pushing the "input" button on your remote control.
Of course, you will presumably only be able to watch TV up until the point where someone else in the room says a phrase that sounds like "go to game." That's not a criticism of the system's voice controls -- they may be very good. It's just pointing out that the Kinect is not yet a mind reader (although it can detect your heartbeat).
#2. The World Is About to Be Full of Bad Video Game TV Show Adaptations
Quick: What's the worst part of video games? Playing them, right? What's the best part? The story and voice acting, of course. So clearly the next step in the evolution of the medium is to just strip it down to the latter.
So, about 40 minutes into the presentation, we heard from former president of CBS Studios Nancy Tellem, who said Microsoft would be developing TV shows for the console (the first being a Halo series) and that she would bring to them the same edge and innovation she brought to CBS with shows like, and I quote, "the CSI franchise and Survivor." Also, Steven Spielberg will be involved somehow, so there's that.
#1. You and Your Friends Can Accidentally Watch Each Other Masturbate
As we mentioned, the Kinect will always be on, and it will have a high-definition camera that lets it see everything that is happening in the room in front of it, at all times. The implementation Microsoft seemed most proud of was Skype, which would let people call you and plant their big stupid face right onto your screen while you're trying to watch a movie (the example they used was breaking into your friend's football game to taunt him about it):
So ... you can call people with voice commands, and you will always be on camera. Which means you'd better hope that in the throes of sofa sex you don't shout anything that sounds like "call Grandma."
Anyway, if you don't have time to watch the conference video, somebody on YouTube boiled it down to its essence: