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The Battle for My Living Room: Xbox One

I consider myself to be an avid gamer. I had a Playstation One for years. I got a Playstation 2 when it first came out. I switched my allegiance to Xbox for the Xbox 360 because it was cheaper and it seemed as if the rest of my friends had one. I was a late adapter to the third generation of consoles, switching over sometime in 2009. I recently decided that this time I wasn’t going to wait for a massive price drop: I’m going to try to be one of the first people to have a fourth generation console. As a result, I have found myself being particularly interested in the announcements concerning these consoles.

Nintendo decided to release its console, the Wii U, in time for the 2012 holiday season shopping, a year earlier than the release date of the Xbox One and the PS4. In my opinion, it is just a beefed up version of the Wii with the controller possessing its own screen to supplement the television screen. The graphics are much better than the Wii’s, but my expectations for the other consoles’ graphics are much higher. I don’t want to have to stand up and play games that include movement. I want to be able to sit down and play a game of FIFA. I knew the Wii U wasn’t for me from the day of its unveiling.

While there hasn’t been much concrete information on the PS4, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One on May 21st, 2013. The reveal was exciting: the graphics looked incredible even if they were pre-rendered and we were finally getting a look at the new generation of consoles. Unfortunately, the news surrounding the console made me relatively certain I’ll end up buying a PS4. A large part of the event discussed the usage of the Xbox One as a television device. While watching a football game, a viewer will be able to check how their fantasy football team is doing and chat with other fans on the same screen he or she is watching on. Viewers will also be able to look up pieces of clothing from shows and open browser windows on the side of shows. As an entertainment device, the Xbox One will probably triumph over the smart TVs, ones that have applications and can use video streaming services such as Netflix, in terms of the sheer entertainment value. I don’t see it as much of an upgrade for someone who owns a computer or a laptop where they can already do the same tasks. There will most likely be a small decrease in the rate at which smart TVs are entering the TV market.

With that being said, as a video game console, the Xbox One is in many ways a disaster. The console will require you to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours. This will become a large problem, because gamers who don’t live in an area where Wi-Fi is easily accessible will not be able to use the console. With only 61% of American homes having Wi-Fi, Microsoft is isolating 39% of the country. Microsoft is also forcing consumers to buy a new version of the Kinect with the console. The Kinect will then not be able to be disconnected from the console, which scares people seeing that it has recently been revealed that the NSA has been spying on Americans.

There will also be a lot of conflict surrounding games for the Xbox One. Games will only be allowed to be traded in with pre-approved retailers, which means independent game shops are not going to be able to survive. Since there will be less competition in the used game market, retailers will be able to pay even less than the miniscule amounts they already pay for used games. Games will also not be allowed to be used on separate consoles.

While this is terrible for gamers everywhere, the Xbox One could face legal troubles in Europe. Last year courts ruling over the European member states decided that buying and reselling digital software is legal, so publishers cannot stop customers from reselling their games even if the user agreement states that one cannot resell the game. The Xbox One’s restrictions completely contradict the court ruling. Either Microsoft will have to change their rules (at least for Europe) or the console could be at risk for not being released in Europe. This is especially significant because Europe has been known to be a more Xbox heavy market compared to PS4.

There are rumors that the PS4 will have many of the same restrictions that the Xbox One has. In that case, I don’t really know what I’ll do about my next system. I do know that if gamers are not allowed to have as much control over the games and consoles they have purchased, there will be a large decrease in purchases compared to the last console generation. If Sony plays its cards right with the PS4, Sony will win this generation of console wars. Sony doesn’t charge to be able to use online features, such as using previously purchased streaming services and play friends online. With Xbox One continuing the Microsoft tradition of charging $60 a year to use its online services, many consumers will begin to doubt why they pay for a service Sony provides for free. Sony has a chance to create a significantly larger market presence if it decides to not micromanage its users like Microsoft plans to. As of now, I’m getting a PS4.

Photo Credit: Sam Churchill

About Jake Axelrod

Jake attended Northwestern from 2012 to 2016. He majored in Economics and Geography and minored in Business Institutions.

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