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Xbox One: What Went Wrong with Microsoft’s Big Reveal

You were fully prepared to like the Xbox One. Unfortunately, the Xbox One doesn’t like you.

Hey, you – you like games, don't you? Of course you do. If you didn't, you wouldn't have clicked on this article about the Xbox One, Microsoft's successor to the Xbox 360. You've probably already watched its ostentatious unveiling, you've likely done your fair share of scrolling through galleries admiring its big bulky frame, and you'll have no doubt read all of the details trickling out about it. You've done this because, as previously mentioned, you like games, and you were fully prepared to like the Xbox One.

Unfortunately, the Xbox One doesn't like you.

During the hour-long press conference held yesterday (May 21), we were finally introduced to the new console, and came to discover the full extent of Microsoft's distrust of us, the consumers, and their willingness to abuse the loyalty that they earned with the 360.

A new generation of greed

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All of those awful rumours that were being circulated before the big reveal are, to some extent, true. The Xbox One will "block" used games, but that doesn't mean that Microsoft are withdrawing their software from the used game market – it just means that they're looking to capitalise on it. 

And why shouldn't they? It's their products that you filthy consumers are making money from, after all. How dare you sell something that you legally own? In order to combat this, the Xbox One requires you to activate every game that you have purchased online, so if you live in a military base, or if you're an Amish teenager with a 360 and a copy of Black Ops II secretly stored underneath your bed, then you're out of luck.  

SECOND OPINION: Check out CraveOnline Gaming Editor Erik Norris' thoughts on the Xbox One reveal

Each online activation code can only be used once, and if you want to activate a game that has already been activated by another user, you will be required to pay a fee. What will that fee be? Well, it'll be the full retail price of the game, of course, as confirmed by Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison. But this doesn't mean that you can't sell your used games; it just means that it will be pointless for you to do so.

Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One will have an online store, wherein players can buy and sell used games. The problem with this is that these used games aren't really used games at all, they're just activation codes, and as such the pricing of them is unlikely to be that much cheaper than a retail release. So if the online activation codes aren't looking likely to be forgiving on gamers' wallets in this particular department, surely there has got to be some kind of positive payoff for the consumer, right?

Wrong.

The online activation codes, much like EA's Online Passes (which EA has now dropped due to their unpopularity), do nothing to improve a gamer's experience in any way, shape or form, and instead exist solely to squeeze as much money from the pockets of each and every person who plumps up the cash for the Xbox One, without having to offer them anything in return. Those who already struggle to afford to keep gaming as their hobby will now struggle even more, and simple things such as lending your friend a game will now become a thing of the past on Microsoft's console, as that friend will be charged the full retail price in order to access it.

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But if you feel like it's just the consumers who Microsoft are attempting to bend over and ravage, then you'll be happy to hear that they're also doing the same to independent developers. If you watched the reveal presentation, then you may have noticed that XBLA didn't have its own section on the new dashboard. This is because indie games have now been tethered in with the standard 'Games' hub, thus pitting them alongside triple-A releases for coverage.

Also, as was the case with the Xbox 360, developers will still not be afforded the opportunity to self-publish, with them instead being forced to either enter into a publishing deal with either Microsoft or a third-party. What this essentially means is that while Microsoft will be shouting from the tops of mountains about the fact that they can bring us a Call of Duty map pack a month ahead of Sony, Sony will likely be informing us of all the excellent indie developers who will be producing content exclusively for them because they actually want to see some of the money that they've earned.

So who is the Xbox One for, exactly?

The Wii U and the PlayStation 4's unveilings were underwhelming and vague, but Nintendo and Sony made it clear that their new consoles were all about the video games. On the other hand, Microsoft's unveiling was brash and to the point, but that point was that their new console is catering to those whose gaming taste palette consists of Call of Duty with a side order of sports titles.

Though there will be more titles announced at E3, the Xbox One announcement presentation was a statement of intent, and Microsoft's intention is for its gaming console to bedazzle those who don't have their ear to the industry with the "futuristic" ability to change TV channels with your hand and voice, luring them in before they nickel and dime them with great fervor. 

If what Microsoft has announced proves to be true come the Xbox One's release later this year, the path that it is going down with the new console is one that, if it proves to be successful, will have a negative impact upon the entire industry. 

 

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Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of Crave Online. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.