The much-hyped press event for Microsoft’s Xbox brand is over with the first details of the Xbox One announced. A late 2013 release is being targeted, however there is no talk of pricing at this point.
Unlike the PS4 press conference from earlier this year though, there are pictures of the machine itself. See a full gallery here.
The system will use a PC architecture with an 8-core “Jaguar” x86-64 AMD CPU, allegedly making it very easy to develop for. No word on the specifics of the architecture as yet, but the company promises a machine that is “four times quieter”.
The GPU is tailored for DirectX 11.1 graphics and 32MB of high bandwidth embedded ESRAM memory. It will support 1080p and 4K along with 7.1 surround sound.
Then there is 8GB of DDR3 memory, a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, USB 3.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, three separate 802.11n wireless radios, and HDMI 1.4 passthrough and out.
The new Kinect will be 1080p, have a wider field view and be incredibly more responsive. It will also be essential to the operation of the new box.
The new controller is very similar, though the triggers and D-Pad have undergone tweaking to improve responsiveness.
How does it compare to Sony’s PS4 in terms of raw power? More detailed system specs aren’t on hand but the rumors were true – both machines are pretty much the same with the PS4 having the slightest advantage (mainly regarding the faster GDDR5 Ram).
With Xbox though, the focus of this presentation was very much about moving the box away from being a games console and into being an entertainment-all-in-one unit.
In fact it wasn’t until well into the presentation that games were even mentioned. Before that, much of it was showing off the media and PVR integration, with channel switching all handled through Siri style voice commands.
“Xbox. Watch HBO” will bring up HBO. These commands allow for relatively fast switching between games, movies and TV shows. The Kinect sensor will also be able to identify individual users and their voices.
When not showing off the “Smart TV” style capabilities of the box, the focus was briefly on games. The company revealed that it will release fifteen exclusive games in the first year, with eight of them being new titles/franchises. They also will have day one exclusive DLC for “Call of Duty: Ghosts” in November.
Two games were shown early on – racing game “Forza Motorsport 5” and mystery thriller title “Quantum Break,” the latter evoking the great 360 title “Alan Wake”.
In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft Xbox Live VP Marc Whitten confirmed that the Xbox One will have no backwards compatibility whatsoever so your Xbox 360 games won’t work on the new machine.
While Sony has promised PS3 game playability eventually through cloud streaming, Whitten says there is no such thing in the works at Microsoft. Also, while games will be on Blu-ray, all games will require installation to the Xbox One’s hard drive to play.
One big concern has been the machine requiring a constant online connection to run games. Wired reports that developers will be able to create games that hook into Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and are unable to be played offline, but there is as yet no requirement for them to do so.
Microsoft has also indicated that each disc would have to be tied to a unique Xbox Live account, and a fee will be charged for any game disc to be tied to a second account after its initial installation. That brings into question the entire second-hand gaming market for Xbox One games, a question which Microsoft hasn’t answered properly as yet aside from saying they’ve designed “Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games.”