Why I Won't Be Buying An Xbox One

I'm normally not one to shy away from a nice shiny new console. So nice. So shiny. Yet, I find myself being drawn to the inevitable conclusion that I won't be buying an Xbox One any time soon. Here's why.

There is one important caveat before I start, and that it's that I'm thinking here as a consumer, not as a technology journalist. I own too many consoles (just ask any adult member of my family; the kids are delighted), but several of them sit there primarily because, at one time or another, I've worked as a games journalist and they've been, in effect, tools of the trade. As a freelancer I'm not going to throw money away per se, so if there's work on the table I may well end up with one.

But as a consumer who likes video games quite a lot? That's a different story — and it's not really one that's all that much about the games.

It's most certainly not that I doubt that Microsoft can bring it when it comes to powerhouse gaming franchises. Unlike the woes that have befallen Nintendo's Wii U in terms of third party developers, Microsoft has both the track record and the cold, hard cash to throw around to get big-name titles onto its shiny new box of tricks. I have a standard rule for personal console buying that I've applied to every single games system I've ever purchased, and it's this: There must be six unique titles that I want and will play for the system before I'll buy.

"Killer" applications are all well and good, but I'd rather have a bit of depth if you're expecting me to drop north of $500 on a games machine. The Xbox One will probably have those games in relatively short order. I'm not wild about the blurry picture for second-hand games sales, but that's more from an ownership stake than a resale one, as it's rare for me to actually trade any games in at all.

The issue is that the Xbox One isn't being pitched as just a games machine, and that's where I tilt towards not being that keen on it, for two key reasons.

Firstly, a lot of the hype at its launch centered around factors that either aren't relevant to me (or many other Australians), such as "fantasy" NFL football and links with US cable providers. There's one major Pay-TV provider in Australia in Foxtel, and some minnows such as Fetch, and that's it. In one sense, that should make any kinds of TV-based rights agreements easier than the mix in the States, but history has shown that rights issues in the Australian TV market are often slow to resolve. Microsoft might have all the will in the world, but then the same was (arguably) true for Hybrid TV and the TiVO, and that didn't manage to live up to its lofty plans.

Secondly, and more of a concern for both the Xbox One and Sony's Playstation 4 is the increasing use of online, cloud-based gaming and entertainment options.

I cannot put it any simpler that this; my home/office Internet connection sucks. It sucks badly. How badly? I recently ran a comparison of my average home speeds against worldwide averages, and found that I'd get a better connection speed (on average) in Malawi. Nothing against the fine people of Malawi (and there's the obvious caveat that the number of users is probably even more metropolitan-averaged and smaller than in Australia), but it does pinpoint an issue for a service that may want to save, store or deliver games or other content over the Internet.

My connection simply can't keep up. I have an Apple TV, and it's fine for streaming content across my local network, but if I want to rent a new release HD movie, I have to start making those plans the day before I actually want to watch it. I'm technically on the tail end of the current three-year NBN plan, but let's just say that I'm not optimistic of connecting up any time faster before the turn of the decade, no matter who wins the upcoming election.

As such, I struggle to see the consumer-end value in the Xbox One proposition for myself, and, I suspect, a large number of other Australians. It's not that Microsoft can't deliver the games, and maybe, just maybe the other content. But without a pipe able to send it to me in a reasonably timely fashion, it's just another power-sucking box sitting underneath the TV screen — and I've already got enough of those.


Comments

    I know there's pro and con arguments for it, but one of the issues that puts me off is the lack of backward compatibility. Surely if the hardware is such a leap forward (according to Microsoft) then some kind of emulator could be supplied.

      I know when I upgraded to the 360 soon after launch I was glad that it was backwards compatible, but i must admit that apart from checking to see how many of my XBox games actually worked I never actually played any of the games. I think perhaps mostly due to the leap forward in game graphics, playability etc.

      I don't think the leap forward will necessarily be as great so will probably still play my 360 games but I already have the system so really the One not having BC probably won't deter me from buying it.

      Since the SNES, there have only been two consoles I haven't bought, the Saturn and the Wii U, so will probably buy it within 6 months of launch depending on how good it turns out to be.

      The problem with emulators is that they are very difficult to code. What you are essentially doing is making a new program that will translate code back and forth between the emulated system and your actual system in realtime. This has a huge processing overhead such that modern PCs cannot be reliably expected to emulate a 360 (Power PC) or PS3 (Cell) without making the game lag so bad it becomes unplayable. Seeing as the xbone and PS4 are essentially modern PCs right down to the architecture (x84), I don't think MS or Sony could offer realisitc backwards compatibility that would satisfy anyone.

      But the one good word that I will put in for Sony is that they are *trying* with that Gaikai streaming service to offer backwards compatibility without messing with emulation.

        The problem with not having backwards compatibility is to do with the CPU's architecture is totally different, not any other reason. Its using an x86 / x64 Jaguar CPU, not IBM's custom tri-core in the old model.

          You can write emulators to emulate other architectures. The Dolphin emulator, for example, runs on both x86/64 and ARM processors, and emulates the PowerPC-based CPU in the Wii. To the extent that there's a technical limitation, it's that as late-generation games resort more and more to bare metal programming, the emulator must emulate not merely the architecture used by the target processor, but the actual target processor itself, with all its quirks.

    I've mentioned this before, but I get frustrated when the NBN is to deliver 100mb connections, which is really fast, but Google Fiber gives 1gb connections and costs roughly the same amount as some of the NBN providers.

    I'm taking a simplified look at this, for sure, but why are we so content with internet like this? Why do we think that 200gb is "plenty" for $70, when other countries give more data, for less?

    I think Australia needs to take a long, hard look at the future of the internet before we get an Xbox Two that streams games from a central server, but is useless in Australia unless you've got a dedicated gaming internet connection.

      You're comparing a country that has 300million plus people to our 23mill. We are too spaced out and so far away from everyone that it costs money to get data here and set up the infrastructure.

        I would think it would cost less, given that you don't need any additional exchanges or anything like that, that the fiber would be on a direct path between places. This is probably a simplified look at it also..

      but the NBN *will* be gigabit capable...

      we dont, no one with any sort of technological know how is happy with the current state of Australia's internet

      The NBN is simply starting at 100mbps, gigabit service is planned to be rolled out in December and fiber is scalable far far higher than that over time.

      The major differences between the NBN and Google fiber is Google is rolling out fiber to small high uptake areas (I believe the local municipalities also have been bidding to get google fiber?) they almost certainly take a loss on the hardware etc but the more people with better internet connections the more money Google makes from it's advertising revenues etc so their profit comes from another source. The NBN on the other hand is a government infrastructure project designed to be rolled out to the vast majority of the country in areas with far too low a population density to make it commercially viable for an individual company. If a company was to try and roll out something like the NBN the money they would have to charge to make a profit would be obscene.

      But yes assuming the NBN isn't canned after this election you will have the choice of gigabit fiber at some point in the next decade (when is another matter entirely sadly). If it is canned....well you'll be stuck with 50mbps at best (more likely 12) unless you move somewhere with 100mbps cable.

    Instead of focusing the argument towards Microsoft and other companies for bringing technology (Cloud, streaming ect), you should focus your arguments towards your government to get it's internet infrastructure inline with the rest of the world.

    I can't wait for the Xbox One with my 60mb/s always on internet and my TiVo box from Virgin Media as it will work a treat for me. You should put pressure on your ISP's, Government and other services to upgrade soon as the world is heading rapidly towards on always on, always connected future.

      Meh. I just fell asleep at the sales pitch.

      Colour TV and electric twangers is for hipsters

    Give me NBN, Xbox One and a freeview addon and I'll be happy. So long as it's not impossible for me to install Netflix and Hulu through some US account trickery like I can on the PS3 and 360.

      Agreed. We decided to buy a house in an area (Aspley) that had NBN. Netflix now works so much better then my shoddy adsl connection ever did.

      As long as I can still get Netflix and tvserity running on the xbox one I will be buying one straight away :-)

    shitty network issues and cloud everything aside, if the xbone requires a "once every 24hours authentication" check to work then im out, simple as that, the one thing we can still do when theres no internet is games,

    When i move at the end of each 12 month lease, because yet again the landlord and real estate are terrible, and it takes 3 weeks for the internet to get hooked up, because Telstra seemingly outsource line installation too, the one salvation is that matt black box of gaming goodness

      I know how you feel!! Last time i changed providers was the first time in over a year that my xbox and ps3 have gotten a serious workout!

    The only reason I would consider one is if it can play HD3D ISO's from a hard drive. I'm not necessarily going to watch that many 3D shows but my current HTPC has all the bells and whistles and can play those files. The problem is that it's noisy and the remote control is sketchy at best. The Xbox One is supposed to have remote control down pat, what with hand gestures and voice. However if it can't play every file format I'm sticking with my HTPC.
    Oh, and I don't play console games either... :)
    Double Oh, I want the ability to swap out the HDD if I need to!

    Last edited 03/06/13 1:33 pm

      However if it can't play every file format I'm sticking with my HTPC.

      If the XBOX 360 and my Surface's built in video app are anything to go by, stick with your HTPC. Both Sony and Microsoft made a big deal about their entertainment center stuff and they both left a lot to be desired when it comes to functionality.

    Easy just get a PS4 instead, like most people will.Unless you really like Halo and Gears Of War and TV!TV!TV! your not gonna miss out on much.
    If they are lucky MS might get a competitive market share in the US but Europe and Japan have allways been Playstation strongholds and the Xbone sure as hell won't change that.
    Anyway as a tech journo there's a good chance you will get one sent out for free anyway.

    +1 Alex.

    I'm one of the few people who actually still play Star Wars - The Old Republic, and if there's an update needed, I literally need to start the update on Wednesday night if I want to be able to start playing Friday night.

    Given Microsoft's attitude towards used/shared games, and it's lack of commitment to the Australian market (hey there, Surface Pro), the only incentive I can see for me as a consumer is I can play newer, HD-er games. Which is great, but I've been able to live without them up until now, so I'm sure I can wait until MS provides better incentives than being competent.

    Lets wait and see what they have to show at E3 before you jump to any conclusions... I agree that it is very likely that many of the "services" outlined by Microsoft are unlikely to be introduced into the Australian market, but that's cool... I don't intend to use it for that anyway... The fact is that Microsoft will no doubt stitch up deals like that have with Call of Duty, etc that will encourage gamers to make the XBOX their system of choice. And things like your gamer score and your friends lists will be further incentive to continue your relationship with Microsoft. No more used games? Great! Just means that the people that make games are getting the money... not the people who just sell them! It will also mean that developers and publishers will become more competitive to attract your dollars with sales and specials similar to what we see on Steam and other online services today. Video games are not a right... they are a luxury. When i was a kid i got 1 maybe 2 games a year because that is all i could afford... We didnt have used games and i didnt need to play every game that came out! I lived within my means and accepted that entertainment is something to appreciate without any feelings of entitlement... Alot of people worked hard and invested alot of money to supply me with that entertainment so i appreciated what i have received. I pay for the experience, not the ability to resell the physical copy.

      I agree with you - The reveal was a chance for MS to show all the stuff the One will do ahaead of E3 - much like the 360 the one is supposed to be the centre of your living room. I doubt we will see any TV in Australia as Foxtel is not about to give access to it's monopoly in the same way they screwed the Tivo - the TV part is not internet based but via a compatible cable box the kind that we don't have.
      The unit will allow you to play games from the HDD without the need for the original disc - this in turn then required other safe guards to prevent people from renting a game and being able to then play it forever - this is what all the hoopla is about at the moment. Looking forward to more info as it is release - for now just chilling while all the so called Gamers froth at the mouth in anger over complete roumours

      Last edited 03/06/13 8:14 pm

    Just pointing out, I think people have missed the point. When Microsoft announced the xbox one reveal, they made a point of basically saying 'were revealing it on this date, and then you'll get to see the games at E3'. I think the reveal was basically to talk about the apps etc. and wasn't supposed to be too heavy on gaming because we will see it all at E3. I'm sure the PS4 will have just about the same amount of entertainment etc, they just chose to focus more on games during their conference

    But...but...but...TELEVISION! SPORTS! CALL OF DUTY! DOOOGGGGG!!!!!

    I won't be buying one either. The television features are irrelevant because I actually can't get TV in my room anymore since they shut off the Analogue signal (Digital's signal is complete rubbish in my experience), plus why yell at my TV when I can just use a remote?

    There aren't any IPs that remotely interest me either besides Gears of War and Halo and even then they've been milked eight ways from Sunday. I've seen people expecting something like Banjo Threeie or a Killer Instinct remake, but MS scrapped Banjo Threeie way back in 2004-2005 and I wouldn't trust them with a KI remake. No way in hell.

    The issue is that the Xbox One isn’t being pitched as just a games machine, and that’s where I tilt towards not being that keen on it, for two key reasons.

    Microsoft have simply done what Sony did last generation. They've read too much into the success of their 'entertainment unit' features on their previous console, pumped it up and put it in the spotlight for all their announcements, and then just assumed gamers would know games are coming. Sony saw how well the DVD player went on the PS2, pumped up the media center stuff for the PS3, played it up in all their advertising, and left everyone asking 'where are the games?'.
    Likewise Microsoft saw Netflix and all that take off on the 360 and invested heavily in it for the XBOX One (probably over-invested in it). The XBOX One will have plenty of games, and it's a safe bet to say it'll be a gaming console first and a media center second, they've just forgotten to make that clear in all their announcements.

    All that said I don't support the XBOX One for my own reasons. I'm not one for boycotts, mostly because it just sounds so over dramatic, but I think gamers have a responsibility to not buy the XBOX One and to encourage anyone they know is going to buy one to reconsider.

    If I buy an XBOX One it'll treat me like I'm on parole under the guise of saving the industry from the evil used game monster, even though they've done nothing but support the people who turned used games from harmless trades into a way to leach astronomical amounts of money from the industry.
    The reality is Microsoft saw what Apple did with their App Store and they want one of their own. The entire used game argument is a distraction from it. If used games were this cancerous Microsoft and the rest of the publishers probably wouldn't continue to give the people who push used games the best exclusives and support.
    They're changing the rules so that we get licenses instead of games because they feel there's more money there, and rather than giving us benefits to sweeten the deal they're actually making the deal worse under the assumption we A) won't notice and B) can't do anything to stop them.

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