Unlike Sony, who famously revealed their upcoming PlayStation 4 without actually showing us the thing, Microsoft has kept quiet about their new console offering. Apart from rumours, including that little Twitter-based always online drama, we’ve known absolutely nothing about the new Xbox.
Well, that has all changed now.
At 3am this morning Microsoft finally spilled the beans on their new console: Xbox One.
During an hour-long presentation from their Redmond HQ, Microsoft introduced what they hope will change the way we view and interact with visual entertainment.
The new Xbox ships complete with a redesigned Kinetic camera/motion-sensor that captures full 1080 HD imagery at 30 frames-per-second and proprietary “time of flight” technology to improve motion-sensing accuracy. There’s also a new controller, of a similar design to the previous one, but with a more ergonomic integrated battery compartment.
Detailed specs on the actual Xbox One device were thin on the ground, but it does sport a Blu-Ray player, 8GB of RAM and a custom-designed 64-bit 8-Core CPU. The Xbox One runs via three operating Systems, the Xbox OS, a version of the Windows kernel for internet and apps, and a third custom OS to bring it all together.
But the presentation wasn’t about the technology; it was about what we are going to be able to do with it. The Xbox One moniker seems a strange choice for the third-generation Xbox. The name, no-doubt refers to Microsoft intention to make the console the all-in-one entertainment solution for the living room.
Using a dashboard similar to the Xbox 360, Microsoft senior vice-president Yusif Mehdi, demonstrated how the Xbox One can be used as an entertainment hub, controlling TV, movies, music, internet and games, instantly switching between them with voice commands. No more switching TV video inputs, Xbox One will take care of it all. Microsoft’s Smartglass technology can also be used to control and interact with the new console via a suitably capable mobile device.
With Xbox One Microsoft have finally incorporated Skype technology into the Xbox platform which, paired with the Kinect, brings HD video chat into the living room.
The emphasis of the presentation was very much about the integration of the device as a entertainment centre. Whilst Microsoft are obviously holding back for E3, they did offer some info on the new consoles gaming features.
There was much emphasis on the use of cloud technology, boasting that the new Live service for Xbox One will utilise 300,000 servers (with a computing power greater than that of the entire world in 1999). With this technology gamers with be able to record their games, edit them and share them on the cloud. Developers with be able to use cloud computing for calculations allowing for more players and persistent gaming worlds.
Andrew Wilson from Electronic Arts took to the stage to introduce the company’s EA Sports line-up and their new next-gen sports game engine, Ignite. EA’s top sports titles from the FIFA, Madden, NBA and UFC franchises are all coming to Xbox One.
Phil Spencer, the vice-president of Microsoft Studios announced that there would be fifteen exclusive games coming to Xbox One in the first year, with eight of them being entirely new franchises. One of these exclusives is from Remedy Entertainment, the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake. Whilst there was little detail revealed, Quantum Break allegedly combines cinematic gameplay with scripted TV.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the presentation was from Nancy Tellem, the head of Xbox Entertainment Studios who, again, suggested Microsoft desire to dominate the living room entertainment experience with interactive television.
Citing Microsoft’s success with the Halo web series, Forward Unto Dawn, Tellem announced their new Halo project, Halo: The Television Series. As if that wasn’t enough, Mr Steven Spielberg, himself, appeared on the video screen to offer his endorsement of the Xbox One technology and his direct involvement in the new premium Halo TV show. Microsoft the global pay-per-view TV network?
Whilst Microsoft’s presentation featured its fair share of hyperbole and hollow glossiness, the Xbox One as an all-in-one living room entertainment solution is an interesting prospect. The most exciting thing of the whole presentation, however, was this simple sentence “Launching around the world later this year.”
Over to you, Sony.
Check out the Microsoft press release below:
Microsoft unveils Xbox One: the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system
Blockbuster titles, Steven Spielberg-produced Halo TV series, and exclusive agreements with the NFL transform games, TV and entertainment for the 21st century living room.
REDMOND, Wash. — May 21, 2013 — A new vision for the future comes to life today as Microsoft Corp. unveils Xbox One, the all-in-one gaming and entertainment system created for today and the next generation. At Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company showcased how Xbox One puts you at the center of all your games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype.
“Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device,” said Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Our unique, modern architecture brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment.”
Introducing Xbox One
With Xbox One, games push the boundaries of realism, and TV obeys your commands.1 Say “Xbox On” to launch your personalized Xbox One Home screen, discover what is popular on TV or see friends’ latest gaming achievements all using the most natural interface — your voice. The more you interact with Xbox One, the more it gets to know you and learns what you like. Some of the breakthrough Xbox One features that put you at the center of your living room entertainment include the following:
· TV on Xbox One.1 Navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your Xbox One. Microsoft is committed to bringing live TV through various solutions to all the markets where Xbox One will be available.3
· Home. Turn on your entertainment system with two powerful words, “Xbox On,” and a custom-tailored Home dashboard welcomes you with your favorite games, TV and entertainment.
· Snap. Do two things at once on the biggest screen in your home. Use Snap to jump into a multiplayer battle while watching your favorite movie, talk with friends on Skype while watching live TV, or track your fantasy team on TV as you watch the big game and more.
· Skype for Xbox One. Specially designed for Xbox One, talk with friends on your TV in stunning HD, or for the first time ever, hold group Skype calls on your TV.
· Trending.1 Stay on top of what is hot on TV by discovering the entertainment that is popular among your friends, and see what is trending within the Xbox community.
· OneGuide.1, 2 Find your favorite entertainment easily, searching by network, name or time, all with the sound of your voice and presented in a tailored program guide.
To create the most advanced Xbox system ever designed for games, TV and entertainment, Microsoft created a state-of-the-art gaming operating system and fused it with an equally amazing entertainment platform, so you will not have to switch inputs to watch TV or play a game. An eight-core, x86 processor and more than 5 billion transistors helps make lag and load times a thing of the past, so you can instantly jump between a game and your entertainment at lightning speed or run a host of apps right alongside your game with no loss in performance.
Introducing Xbox One titles and exclusives
Gaming on Xbox One immerses gamers in cinematic worlds that look like real life, with characters that feel more human than ever before. AAA blockbuster titles unveiled for Xbox One include the following:
· “Forza Motorsport 5” from Turn 10 Studios is the latest edition of the highest-rated racing franchise of the past 10 years.3 Built from the ground up to take advantage of Xbox One and the infinite power of the cloud, no game better delivers the sensation of being behind the wheel. “Forza Motorsport 5” sets a new bar for racing games and will be available exclusively for Xbox One at launch.
· “Call of Duty: Ghosts” is the next generation of “Call of Duty” and a stunning leap forward for the franchise. It delivers an all-new world, an all-new cast of characters and an all-new story, built on a new, next-generation engine. The next-generation technical innovations built to support the incredible gameplay advancements make this the most beautiful and immersive “Call of Duty” experience yet. Activision and Microsoft also announced the renewal of their close partnership that will see both the return of the “Call of Duty® Championship,” presented by Xbox, as well as all-new downloadable content debuting first and exclusively on the Xbox platform.
· “FIFA 14,” “Madden NFL 25,” “NBA LIVE 14,” and “EA SPORTS UFC” from EA SPORTS will change the way consumers experience and play sports games. Driven by the new EA SPORTS Ignite engine, these new EA SPORTS games will deliver massive innovations in human intelligence, true player motion and living worlds. Adding to its commitment to Xbox One, EA SPORTS also announced the promise of exclusive content to be revealed in the coming months.
· “Quantum Break” from Remedy Entertainment is a revolutionary entertainment experience from the creators of “Max Payne” and “Alan Wake” that blurs the line between gaming and TV by integrating drama and gameplay into one seamless, uniquely immersive experience. How you play the game impacts the show, and the show informs how you play the game.
In addition to the amazing lineup of games coming to Xbox One, Microsoft unveiled exclusive content partnerships with some of the top names in TV, sports and entertainment.
· “Halo” television series. Award-winning filmmaker, director and producer, Steven Spielberg will executive-produce an original “Halo” live-action television series with exclusive interactive Xbox One content, created in partnership with 343 Industries and Xbox Entertainment Studios.
· National Football League (NFL).1 A multiyear, landmark partnership will deliver the ultimate interactive NFL television experiences for the next-generation Xbox One and leverage Microsoft devices and services to evolve both in-game and on the sideline. The NFL on Xbox will redefine broadcast experiences through innovations around Skype, Xbox SmartGlass and player-worn technology; add an all-new fantasy football solution for the biggest screen in the house; and create a personalized NFL destination only available on Xbox One.
Introducing a new generation of Xbox Live
Xbox One is built to amplify an all-new generation of Xbox Live that is more powerful, more personal and more intelligent. Unleashing the virtually unlimited power of the cloud makes everything more convenient and accessible, from allowing games to be installed in segments so that gameplay can start quickly to updates downloading in the background. Save and store your personalized profile, games and entertainment in the cloud to access them anytime, from any Xbox One console.4 In addition, existing Xbox Live Gold Membership for Xbox 360 will seamlessly carry over to Xbox One.5 Xbox Live takes you deeper into the games you love with all-new features.
· Smart Match. A new Smart Match matchmaking system virtually eliminates waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding people you want to play with while you are enjoying other activities — reputation fundamentally matters and helps find best matches.
· Game DVR. A dedicated Game DVR captures and accesses your magic moments, all saved to the cloud. Along with sharing tools, you will have the most amazing bragging rights with Xbox Live.
· Living Games.6 Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and advanced artificial intelligence can learn to play like you, so friends can play against your shadow.
· Expanded achievements. A new and expanded achievements system captures video of your epic moments, continues to grow a game’s achievements over time and rewards you in new ways, and your Gamerscore carries over from Xbox 360.
· Xbox SmartGlass.6 Xbox SmartGlass is natively part of the Xbox One platform, built in from the beginning with the ability to quickly render content directly onto your device, and now more devices can connect at one time for multiplayer and shared entertainment.
Introducing the Xbox Onelook and feel
New Xbox One hardware is sleek and modern and complements any décor. The console is shaped in the 16:9 aspect ratio and employs a horizontal orientation optimized for its high-speed Blu-ray™ disc player. It is molded in a deep and rich liquid black color and includes a distinctive beveled edge.
The completely redesigned, revolutionary 1080p Kinect is more precise, more responsive and more intuitive. Its unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology let you reach into games and entertainment like never before by dramatically expanding its field of view and fidelity. It works in nearly any lighting condition, recognizes precise motion control from a slight wrist rotation, and distinguishes your voice even in a noisy room using advanced noise isolation.
The class-leading Xbox controller is refreshed with more than 40 technical and design innovations. Updated directional pad, thumb stick and ergonomic fit immerse all gamers in ways that are uniquely Xbox, and precision and control have been dramatically increased with all new vibrating impulse triggers.6 The Xbox One Wireless Controller is designed to work in concert with the new Kinect, allowing the two to be paired automatically to create seamless player syncing.
Xbox One will launch in markets around the world later this year. Visit the new Xbox Wire blog at http://news.xbox.com for in-depth features on the new system, including photos and videos from the unveiling event and new and rotating content from Xbox. More details about Xbox One and blockbuster games will be explored at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.