The end of 2013 was a special time for gamers, as the two big console giants – Microsoft and Sony – went head to head with band new machines which were set to propel them into the next generation of gaming.
From the off, Microsoft had the harder time of it – with draconian ideas on how game sharing should work and a stuffiness about its marketing pitch which was the total opposite of the attitude presented by the other camp. And it didn’t help that, at launch, the console was €100 more expensive, mostly because it included the updated Kinect hardware – a device few people are interested in.
So how has Microsoft’s big black box fared in the 12 months since it first went on shelves?
As with any major launch, there have been ups and downs. One area where the Xbox One arguably has the edge is in exclusive game titles. Launch efforts like Ryse, Dead Rising and Forza Motorsport 5 were more memorable than Knack and Killzone Shadowfall and this lead has continued right to the present moment – the end of 2014 has seen the release of Sunset Overdrive, Halo The Master Chief Collection and Forza Horizon 2.
On the hardware side, it has to be said that the Xbox One is a large device and something you really have to find space for. But Microsoft’s decision to make the Kinect peripheral optional was a real game-changer, saving on the space it needs and also massively discounting the price of the console.
In fact, the biggest thing Microsoft has going for it in terms of the Xbox One is how willing they are to make changes. They genuinely listen to their users and make steps to improve every part of their console package.
Over the last year that has included over 100 updates to the basic Xbox One experience, and the addition of important extras like being able to play video files, attach an external hard drive and the ability to pre-download large games.
It’s refreshing to see such a massive company responding so positively to feedback but there are still issues – not least the confusing morass of the dashboard and sluggish install times. Microsoft have included a free game model in their Games for Gold program but the titles are limited and often quite dated.
But overall, it has been a positive year for the Xbox One. The new console didn’t start out in pole position against the PS4 and hasn’t achieved the same level of sales but it’s still Microsoft’s fastest-selling console and one which will evolve on a continuous basis as better games and apps are released.
For right now, the main advantage is that the future looks bright for gamers on Xbox One, with a series of top drawer first party titles on the way, and plenty of third-party games getting ready to dazzle in 2015.
In Short: A year ago, Microsoft released the Xbox One around the world and we’re taking a look at how the console has fared during its first 12 months