By Wednesday morning, the internet had made its decision about the Xbox One: it's ugly and stupid, apparently. Kotaku called the launch 'woeful' and 'a disaster'. Gamesindustry.biz called it 'a jumped-up cable box that merely plays games as an afterthought'. On The Guardian's Comment is Free, Michael Moran sighed that it was 'a bit … well… meh'.
This is understandable. When you write about tech and gaming, whether it's your job or you're commenting on someone else's writing, it's always safer to be negative. If you can't ever be satisfied, if no new gadget quite matches your exacting specifications, you can't ever be proved wrong. And to be fair, the natural reaction to the billion-dollar cheerleading and showboating of a megacorporation like Microsoft is to have a bit of a sneer.
But this is the first truly next-generation new games console in eight years. It delivers astonishing graphics. Does no-one feel like they're allowed to get excited about that? You can talk all you like about the RAM being of a slower (well, different) type than the Sony PlayStation 4's RAM, but you don't know how that will affect how the games actually look, and neither does anyone apart from the hugely talented engineers who have built the thing. We can all agree, though, that this computer-generated dog is much better than the previous one.
But apparently, just unveiling a console with astonishing graphics and a handful of new titles isn't enough. Rather than marvelling at the power of the games demonstrated, the internet began shouting, like a spoiled child that has just finished opening its Christmas presents, that there were only a handful of amazing new games to look at. And apparently people insist on being able to play their old games on this entirely different device, too – because obviously the first thing you'll do upon buying an Xbox One is take your 360 out into the garden and shoot it.
The best part of the furore, though, is the anger at how Microsoft played up the importance of TV. Microsoft has had the nerve, the outright cheek, to give you the ability to control your television just by talking to it. And this makes people angry? Unless you've invested millions in Microsoft stock and are worried about how this 'broad entertainment play' will affect your portfolio, why would you care? Either it'll be amazing and it'll change your sofa-time for the better, or it'll be underwhelming and you won't use it. Big whoop.
Then again, there's the fact that you have to leave the new Kinect plugged in all the time, which is obviously a terrible price to pay to be able to just speak your desires and have them happen immediately. A lot of people have pointed out that this makes the Kinect a potent Orwellian sureveill-o-tron, as if any government or company would have the slightest interest in watching you sit on your sofa playing video games and eating crisps. If you're worried about your freedoms, voting and political activism are more effective than complaining about a peripheral.
I'm not saying you should buy an Xbox One. The PS4 may well outperform it, and Valve may make both irrelevant with a more affordable, open platform. But gaming is evolving faster than any other medium, and the next generation of consoles is going to make something that's already enormous fun even more fun. And your reaction to that is to complain? Yeesh.
By Will Dunn
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