Yesterday Microsoft announced their next generation console, officially dubbed the “Xbox One.” After some of the initial excitement waned I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The entire reveal event was centered more around traditional cable and TV than actual games. While Sony spent much more time showing off games and live gameplay, Microsoft used the bulk of it’s time showing us how you can navigate the new dashboard and watch TV with just your voice.
Controlling your cable box with your voice might be exciting for some folks, but I don’t have a cable subscription. I don’t want a cable subscription. The features Microsoft demoed are not what excites me about the future of TV. Rather than disrupt the pay-tv space Microsoft seems content only adding gimmicks to the current TV experience (changing channels with your voice or your hands). They may be hiding some big surprises at E3, but as for now the Xbox One will merely be a pass-through for your current cable subscription. You’re not going to find channels-as-apps or a-la-carte pricing here.
I’m much more excited about how the new Kinect will enhance gameplay than how it will enhance channel-changing. But since Microsoft decided not to show any live gameplay demos with the Kinect, we’re stuck waiting until E3.
Sony’s Playstation 4 event wasn’t perfect either. They didn’t even reveal the actual hardware. But honestly, I think it was a smart move. By holding out until E3 to reveal the hardware Sony is keeping a news-cycle ace up their sleeve. The hardware reveal will garner a lot of attention at E3, pulling eyeballs away from whatever Microsoft will be showing. It’s also possible that the Playstation 4 will have similar capabilities as the Xbox One for integrating cable/satellite TV, but those capabilities will have been downplayed in favor of games. And I still believe the gamer community not the broader “entertainment” community will be what drives the initial sales of both consoles.