November 2013 saw the beginning of the eighth generation of home gaming consoles. What started with a Magnavox console playing a tennis game with a single turn dial controller, has now become a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Leading the way regarding advancements, technology and pushing the envelope: Microsoft and the Xbox. November saw the release of the third console from the computer giant Microsoft when they unveiled the Xbox One. At the time, the Xbox One was the most powerful gaming console ever produced.
Xbox was rivaled by Sony when they released the PlayStation 4, also in November of 2013. Because of the demise of the PS3 along with the popularity of the Xbox 360, the PS4 lead in sales over the Xbox One.
Problems from The Start
Not helping matters, in terms of sales, Xbox One had consumers fearful long before the console was ever released. Microsoft had announced a deal on Digital Rights that would allow games to be downloaded, purchased and played by a limited number of people, and only those within your friends and family circles.
The limit put gamers on edge, resale shops on guard and a black eye on the resale gaming market. With the new digital rights, resale of used games would virtually be impossible as game discs wouldn’t be able to play on a different console.
Microsoft abandoned the idea before release to help ease the minds of the consumers. It still left a sour taste in their mouths and many purchased the less expensive and now technologically equal PlayStation 4.
After the launch, Xbox One faced other criticisms and complaints. There were not a lot of games able to play on the new console, and promises of new titles were being delayed. Peripheral issues were common as well. Consumers complained they didn’t know how to connect Xbox One controllers in the now wireless only set up.
Although the library started out small, Microsoft ensured gamers that the promised titles would come and they more than delivered. However, with the popularity of the Xbox 360, the inability to bring game saves and downloads from one console to another was a huge concern.
Microsoft went to work to please their customers. As has always been their main focus, the customer knows what they want and the Xbox One was going to deliver. Xbox One was released along with another announcement that there would be zero backward compatibility. Once again, this met with resistance and outrage.
The effort was spurred by the lack of hardware in the older console that the new console made use off. The Xbox 360, for example, relied on DVD9 technology for its game discs, and the Xbox One was now using 4k Blu-Ray technology.
The answer came when Microsoft implored its studio to find a solution. The solution was simple: A digital Xbox 360 emulator. With the emulator, they could then create digital copies of the Xbox 360 games and play them natively on the Xbox One.
What was once said by Microsoft Executives wouldn’t be a feature, backward compatibility now has over 400 titles, with more being added each month. The team at Xbox is slowly working towards 100% compatibility. You may have to wait for your favorite title to be added though. The team goes by game popularity, sales and online playing times to determine which games get added.
As the most popular titles, such as Forza, Halo, Project Gotham Racing, etc. were added first, the list of over 1000 games is being added a few at a time. Eventually, the entire Xbox 360 and original Xbox libraries will be available for play on the Xbox One.
You Don’t Have to Wait
While the initial Library of Xbox One games were limited, today the library of games has amassed to over 1400 titles. It is one of the largest single console libraries ever (behind PS2, PS1 and Xbox 360). This number includes over 40 titles that are exclusive to Xbox One.
When you combine the backward compatibility and the current roaster of ever growing game titles, the Xbox One has the ability to play virtually every non-console specific game made since 2001. That’s a lot of games.
Once the Bugs Were Worked Out
Gamers didn’t take to the Xbox One right away as Microsoft had hoped. The Digital Rights campaign along with the negative effects of backward compatibility made gamers weary of the console. Not to mention it was priced over $100 more than the PlayStation 4.
All told, the launch was a success, though and sales continue to rise. How much we will never know for sure. In 2014 Microsoft announced that they would no longer release individual sales numbers. All the factors you see today are guesses based on vendors single sales, orders and pre-orders.
Without the actual numbers, it is all a guess, as even some of the highest selling vendors do not release sales information publicly. The number put PS4 sales at more than double that of the Xbox One. However, Microsoft’s period profit earnings statements lead experts to believe that number is a lot closer than it appears.
That actual number of sales only matters for bragging rights. And Xbox One has done a good job at silencing the nay-sayers.
Xbox One S and Xbox One X
As with the 360, Xbox One has a reconfiguration done. The release was called the Xbox One s. A slightly smaller console with a lot more power. The price drop helped sales numbers and brought around those that felt the latest console may not be as powerful as the PS4.
While the Xbox One S was being released and marketed, though, the powers behind the scenes released a little snippet they called Project Scorpio. No one at the time knew exactly what was happening and if Xbox was getting a brand-new console or another offshoot like the Xbox One S.
All that was known was that Microsoft was working on building the most powerful gaming console ever. Critics sneered. This statement was bold and included the entire realm of competition. Not just gaming consoles from Sony and Nintendo, but also from PC gaming computers built by the likes of Alienware and Hewlett Packard.
When the time came around though, Microsoft began teasing the public with specs, screenshots, and close-up images. Eventually, the entire Project Scorpio was made known and the console in question was dubbed: Xbox One X.
Upon release, the promise made was a promise kept. The Xbox One X is the single most powerful gaming machine ever created. With internal specs that bypass any competition on the market by up to 40 percent. Frame rates, 4k Ultra HD Blu-Ray, upscaling, overclocking and six teraflops of graphical power behind 326 gigabytes per second of processing prowess.
Games come to life and the sky is the limit. A gauntlet has been thrown down by the Xbox One X that may not be soon rivaled.
Xbox Live continues its tradition of bringing games, movies, music and third-party apps to the masses. There is very little the Xbox One cannot do when connected to Xbox Live. With a Gold account, you receive four full games for download each month, access to live TV, radio, movies, music and updates and game content downloads and much more. Using the wireless Xbox one headset allows communications while playing, as well.
Sony has tried to keep up with Xbox Live by creating PlayStation Network (PSN) which mimics Xbox Live with content downloads, trophies, and live streaming. They recently expanded to include free game downloads as well. However, Xbox Live continues to lead the way in performance, value and usability over the PSN that is often reported down or lagging.
Microsoft did not see the PSN as a threat and instead tried to help. The executives got together to try and formulate a way to bring the two consoles together. Microsoft wanted to disband console specific titles (with a few exceptions on each side) and allow for cross-network compatibility that would allow gamers on either platform to play together.
The public wanted this as well, but the enterprise was shot down in the end. No one knows for sure which side backed out of the arrangement but speculation was that the price was too high for Sony, which would have lost exclusive rights to some of the most popular titles in its library.
If you want a gaming experience unlike any other, on a console that has never backed down and listens to the end consumer, the Xbox One is your console.
With more power, more games and more dedication to the gaming experience, it is easy to see why Microsoft is a huge player in the gaming market. Not only are they leading the innovation with technology and power, but they are also doing it ahead of the curve and staying current as well as compatible with what is coming in the future.