The Xbox One Wants to be Your Friend
Microsoft’s newest home console, the Xbox One, is slated to drop in just a few days in North America, and while the recently released Playstation 4 from Sony might be enjoying the spotlight for now, it’s safe to say that gamers everywhere are rife with excitement for Microsoft’s machine. Microsoft took the idea of a new generation of gaming and entertainment to heart in their design philosophy in a way we really haven’t seen before. The Xbox One isn’t just intended to be a more powerful machine than the Xbox 360 (which it is) or to be capable of playing absolutely gorgeous looking software (which it can) from a slew of the best developers in the industry (which it does); it’s aspirations are much grander. It isn’t simply a device—it’s a presence. It wants to be your companion.
A persistent online persona is nothing new. It seems like everyone from Facebook to Google would have you integrate all existing online accounts into one conglomerate identity; there are reasons various and sundry that web sites have to encourage users to tie their accounts and preferences to one place, not the least of which is to advertise directly to your preferences. The Xbox One takes this idea further along the path to its logical—and often uncanny—conclusion: this box doesn’t just want to be your gaming machine— it wants to be your everything machine.
Part of the way Microsoft achieves this is through the new Kinect camera, which comes included with the Day One Edition of the console. It epitomizes the push to not only organize personal data online, but to really know the player and cater to them. It will collect data in many ways people are already used to, but it can also scan the room (and you) even when the system itself is idling, collecting data from voice, facial expression, heart rate, and more during gameplay or when watching tv. The Xbox One can effectively recognize you, and it’s going to change the way we consume media at home in a very real way.
Microsoft wants your Xbox One on at all times entertaining you and getting to know you better. Ingeniously, the system has the ability to connect to your cable box and play your television, eliminating the need to ever switch a cable and ensuring most systems will stay on and watch along, learning your preferences. Microsoft has also gone through great pains to advertise the system’s ability to multitask, such as Skyping a friend while watching a movie or posting video to Facebook while playing a game. Most contemporary systems have media and social connectivity in some shape or form, including the Playstation 4, but the Xbox One seeks to integrate these disparate elements seamlessly and make sure that if you use Skype, you’re doing it with your console.
More so than any retailer or service before it, Microsoft’s console seems interested in trying to understand the user in a way that almost sounds like science fiction. The system’s sophisticated interface and information compiling methods almost make it feel alive, or at the very least intelligent. It’s easy to fearfully criticize Microsoft as some sort of Orwellian watcher, especially when considering their now redacted internet connectivity policies, but their intentions seem nothing but good. At the end of the day, Microsoft is trying to make a product that will exceed customers’ expectations, and with the Xbox One they’ve envisioned a technological gesamptkunstwerk with unbridled potential—what they do with that potential remains to be seen. Above all else, the Xbox One wants to know you better than you know yourself, and with state of the art technology, information gathering, and killer software lineup at launch, we might just let it.
Launch Date: November 22, 2013
Price: Find it at local retailers for $729.99 on Day One with Kinect camera, or $499.99 afterwards
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