Xbox One Unveiled; Let the Console Wars Begin
by Maria Welych - Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Bad publicity for the Xbox wasn’t played up by the media.

Last Friday (Nov. 22), the console wars began in earnest as Microsoft’s Xbox One made its debut and, the company announced, sold 1 million units in less than 24 hours. So far, it sounds like the PlayStation 4’s launch a week earlier.

The launch received the same reception, too. Media covered it, fans who turned on their consoles and began playing chimed in with glowing reviews, and those who had problems with their new devices complained bitterly. The online gaming site, xbox.com, was brought to its knees by overwhelming demand.

But the bad publicity for the Xbox wasn’t played up by the media. News sources didn’t focus incessantly about the issues. Amazon agreed to send a new unit right away instead of waiting for the return first. And the online gaming service was restored the same day.

Could it be there were fewer problems with the Xbox One than the PS4? Could it just be the media were tired of covering console launches? Or could it be that the launch issues were worked out with the PS4, so the One benefited from the prep work? I suspect the last scenario.

If you haven’t already purchased a console or pre-ordered one, it might be difficult finding one for purchase in time for Christmas. Both Sony and Microsoft report the consoles are sold out in retail stores. A quick check of local stores Sunday found that Walmart was the only store that had Xboxes in stock, and they might be gone by the time you read this.

If you haven’t bought one because you don’t know which to buy, let me offer some guidelines:

  • If you are most interested in getting a fast gaming machine, buy a PS4.
  • If you are looking for a family-friendly console, buy an Xbox One, which has “Kinect Sports,” “Zumba Fitness: World Party” and “Just Dance 2014.”
  • If you love first-person shooters, buy an Xbox One.
  • If you want the best quality image for your high-end TV, buy a PS4.
  • If you want a box that will serve as a media hub and control your cable TV with voice commands, get an Xbox One.
  • If console price is the most important factor, buy a PS4, because it’s $100 cheaper.
  • If you want the biggest bang for your online buck, buy a PS4. To access most of the Xbox One’s features — including Netflix, the TV guide and multiplayer gaming — gamers must pay $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold. Sony requires a $50 annual fee for PlayStation Plus, but you can use Netflix and other apps for free.

If you still can’t choose, it’s OK to wait before buying to see which console will emerge on top. After all, both consoles cost a pretty penny, and you want to make sure you pick the right console for you. Don’t forget: The Wii U is another option. (JK LOL)

Bits & Pieces

  • If you plan to go shopping on Black Friday, here are some apps that Forbes recommends to help find the best deals: Shopular, on Android and iOS; Zoomingo, on Android and iOS; and PatchIt, on iOS only. Good luck!
  • Electronic Arts landed a 10-year deal to develop video games based on the “Star Wars” franchise, but the company isn’t planning to follow the plot of the upcoming sequels. According to Variety, past game studios tried to piggyback on the release of the George Lucas-led prequels, but the films’ draw wasn’t enough to make the games a hit. If Disney can make the sequels successful, EA might want to rethink that strategy.
  • Northwestern University’s Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies is developing apps that track a smartphone owner’s movements to provide heath tips for the owner — and to report back to the owner’s physician.
  • Telltale Games, the company behind the popular video game based on the hit TV drama “The Walking Dead,” is rumored to be working on a game based on another popular show, “Game of Thrones.”
  • Snapchat developer Evan Spiegel turned down a $3 billion purchase offer from Facebook last week. Greedy or smart?
  • Id Software cofounder John Carmack, the force behind video game industry-changing titles “Wolfenstein,” “Quake” and “Doom,” has left the company. Carmack recently joined Oculus as chief technology officer for the company, which created virtual reality glasses Oculus Rift.
  • AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile have rebuffed Samsung’s proposal to preload its phones with Absolute LoJack anti-theft software as a standard feature, something that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other prosecutors and law enforcement officers have requested in the wake of increasing smartphone thefts. The wireless industry says a kill switch isn’t the answer because it could allow a hacker to disable someone’s phone.

 

Maria Welych, who was technology editor at The Post-Standard for five years, is director of marketing and public relations at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology. She can be reached at mwelych@gmail.com.

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