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#1 Andrew

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 20:58

Microsoft on Xbox One: some things haven't worked, but we are learning

 

Microsoft’s UK marketing head Harvey Eagle concedes that aspects of the Xbox One haven’t gone as planned, but says a system update and big E3 announcements will help in the battle against PlayStation 4

 

 

Monday 24 February 2014 14.36 GMT

 

Microsoft has learned its lesson from elements of the Xbox One launch that did not work, says Harvey Eagle, the UK marketing head of Xbox. Speaking before the announcement of the Titanfall bundle deal, which will see the sci-fi shooter included with the console, he conceded that aspects of the service, especially its social functionality, need improving.

 

“I want to be honest: there are some things that haven’t worked as well as they were intended to - we’ve had a lot of feedback from our community about that,” Eagle told the Guardian. “The March system update will improve party chat; it will be turned on by default, you’ll be able to chat with friends across different games, you’ll be able to get to your friends list much faster - that will now be on the homepage of the Friends app.

 

“We’re also adding an ‘invite friends to game’ option to the multiplayer titles and that will be available within each game’s menu so it’ll be much easier and quicker to set up multiplayer games. The last thing is we’re adding a ‘recent players’ list so you can quickly call up who you recently played with, making it easier to stay in touch and add new friends. All of these things will be implemented in time for Titanfall to make sure it’s the best multiplayer experience it can be.”

 

Hype and Hype-ability
 

So far, a key problem has been that Microsoft has had to fight on the backfoot, the victim of a sometimes chaotic pre-launch build up. The machine’s controversial announcement event concentrated on live TV and multimedia functionality rather than games, and its digital-first agenda obfuscated the sharing and selling of software between players.

 

However, Eagle says that Microsoft has clearly moved on. “The original thinking behind what we did at the time was to make some announcements about the entertainment features that we were building into the box that we felt were unique and special, and then very quickly afterwards move on to gaming,” he said. “We’ve been consistently talking about games since E3 2013, that’s what we’ll carry on doing, reminding people that this is a games console for gamers, that just happens to have some incredible entertainment features built in as well.”

 

Another much-discussed aspect has been the arrival of ‘paymium’ titles on the Xbox One – full-price games that also offer purchasable items and features in the form of microtransactions. Forza 5 was heavily criticised for its inclusion of an overt in-game real-money mechanic.

 

“We’re trying out a number of different business models to understand which are best for us and best for gamers,” said Eagle. “You’re not going to get everything right first time – we’re still at the stage of experimenting and trying new things; everything we learn from our community we put into what we do going forward. There is still a huge appetite for big commercial triple A titles if you get it right - look at GTA V. But obviously developers are looking at other ways to monetise and I think that will carry on.

 

The HD conundrum

 

There have also been technical questions over the Xbox One hardware, with several early multiplatform titles running in full 1080p HD definition on PlayStation 4, but only 720p resolution on Xbox 360.

 

“Let’s be clear about this: Xbox One fully supports 1080p at 60 frames-per-second,” said Eagle. “Forza Motosport 5 is an example of a game that delivers on that. It’s up to individual developers to determine what is the best balance in order to deliver the best experience to gamers. No longer can you measure or talk about power in terms of pixels and polygon counts. Performance in this era comes from three areas: hardware, software and the cloud.

 

“The reason the Titanfall beta has been so successful is that it is powered by dedicated servers – that makes the game run smoothly without interruptions. You need to think about what power really means in the next generation.”

 

So will other developers, outside of exclusive deals and first-party studios, be supported in using Microsoft’s vast server network to ensure multiplayer games run as smoothly?

 
“We’re committed to allowing developers getting the maximum out of the investment that we’ve made,” said Eagle. “We said at launch that we’d built a server farm of 300,000 dedicated servers to support multiplayer games - it would be foolish of us not to work with developers to ensure they get the maximum from that power.”

As for forthcoming games, Eagle has said that Microsoft understands the importance of original and exclusive content – as well as supporting the indie development community – and predictably promises that more will be announced at the E3 video game exhibition in Los Angeles in June.
 

“We’ve made some exclusive announcements, including Project Spark, Kinect Sports Rivals and Sunset Overdrive,” he said. “There will also be a significant pipeline of new games coming from Microsoft studios, some of which have been announced, some you’ll hear about at E3.

“Look out for some very exciting game announcements, both from Microsoft studios and also our third-party partners... We’re very excited about E3.”

http://www.theguardi...we-are-learning




#2 +Audioboxer

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:05

More modesty, thumbs up.

 

However this is painful :x

 

No longer can you measure or talk about power in terms of pixels and polygon counts. Performance in this era comes from three areas: hardware, software and the cloud.

 



#3 trooper11

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:09

Nice article, but why isnt it in the MS section?

Regardless, I think he lays out some points that I agree with. They have made mistakes, so its nice to know they see reality and are eager to fix it it and improve the situation.

It appears their whole idea behind that event that focused on media features was how I envisioned it. They wanted to get that stuff out of the way. They knew it wouldnt please gamers, especially core gamers. So they devoted a small event to it and then that led to E3 and beyond where all of the talk was about the games. Unfortunately, people seem to forget that due to the impact of that first event and of course the drm stuff.

I know Kinect was not brought up here, but I believe that is also why Kinect was not heavily touted by name, on its own at the first media event, or at E3. They knew how it would be taken pr wise, so they downplayed it as much as possible, choosing instead to highlight features that were made possible by Kinect.

#4 trooper11

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:14

More modesty, thumbs up.
 
However this is painful :x



I dont get the anymosity towards the word cloud. I think you guys need to get over the fact that cloud servers are actually a big deal for some games and it does in fact mean something for the end user.

Just becuase some people on the internet decided to create false ideas about what the 'cloud' is all about and what it does for gaming, it doesnt need to taint the reality. PSNow exists thanks to the 'cloud'. XBL and PSN exist, thanks to the 'cloud'. Dedicated servers for shooters like Titanfall exist thanks to the 'cloud'.

MS has devoted the resources of 300k physical servers in order to make using the 'cloud' more universal and accessible to all developers, not just the biggest.

#5 OP Andrew

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:16

Nice article, but why isnt it in the MS section?

 

Sorry my bad, juggling too many things at once :p

 

Topic moved



#6 Lord Method Man

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:18

 

No longer can you measure or talk about power in terms of pixels and polygon counts.

 

Yeah we most certainly can. You just don't want us to (for obvious reasons.)



#7 trooper11

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:20

Yeah we most certainly can. You just don't want us to (for obvious reasons.)



I agree that we can, but can you at least admit that its not the only things you can talk about?

#8 Lord Method Man

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:22

I agree that we can, but can you at least admit that its not the only things you can talk about?

 

Well of course it isn't the only thing.



#9 DeltaXray

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:29

Saying the Xbox One is fully capable of 1080p60 is misleading, its like saying the PS3 was capable of 1080p just because Wipeout and a handful of others ran in that resolution.

 

If less than half your games can run in that resolution then it is not capable at all.



#10 trooper11

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:38

Saying the Xbox One is fully capable of 1080p60 is misleading, its like saying the PS3 was capable of 1080p just because Wipeout and a handful of others ran in that resolution.
 
If less than half your games can run in that resolution then it is not capable at all.


Your also being misleading.

The fact that any games run at 1080p/60 means the console is capable of it.

This just illustrates why looking at only the resoltuion and frame rate is rediculous. 1080p/60 is achievable with different levels of visual affects that can have as much or more impact on how the game ends up looking to the end user. So yes, the X1 is capable of 1080p/60, its just likely not able to do that with the same level of visual affects as say the ps4.

Heck, even the ps4 cannot offer all games at 1080p/60 due to the choices developers make.

#11 McKay

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:50

Saying the Xbox One is fully capable of 1080p60 is misleading, its like saying the PS3 was capable of 1080p just because Wipeout and a handful of others ran in that resolution.
 
If less than half your games can run in that resolution then it is not capable at all.


It is fully capable. You're falling into the trap that many people have and you're only looking at frame rate and resolution. These are meaningless if you're not looking at graphics. Hell the ps1 probably has the power to run games at 1080@60fps if the game was pong.

Graphics are one of the main deciders, you have to compromise on one area to improve the others. Increase resolution? Either the frame rate or the graphics will have to suffer. Same goes for the other 2 fields in the triangle.

#12 SnoopZ

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 21:53

I am a bit dissapointed how he glossed over the resolution issue and didn't say anything about the rumoured SDK improvements for it! Maybe it was just a rumour and nothing will improve?

#13 trooper11

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 22:03

I am a bit dissapointed how he glossed over the resolution issue and didn't say anything about the rumoured SDK improvements for it! Maybe it was just a rumour and nothing will improve?


He said the console was capable of 1080p/60 and that software was a key area when trying to measure power of a console. The improved sdk, etc, will likely improve the situation, but no one has claimed it would suddenly make the X1 as powerful as the ps4. What it is rumored to do is allow more games to run at that magical 1080p/60 easier.

I suppose he should have said that they are constantly working to improve the software side of things.

#14 SnoopZ

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 22:27

He said the console was capable of 1080p/60 and that software was a key area when trying to measure power of a console. The improved sdk, etc, will likely improve the situation, but no one has claimed it would suddenly make the X1 as powerful as the ps4. What it is rumored to do is allow more games to run at that magical 1080p/60 easier.

I suppose he should have said that they are constantly working to improve the software side of things.

He kind of just pushed it onto developers which was pretty much word for word that was said when the X1 came out with some games not in 1080p.

"It’s up to individual developers to determine what is the best balance in order to deliver the best experience to gamers. No longer can you measure or talk about power in terms of pixels and polygon counts."

#15 trooper11

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 22:34

He kind of just pushed it onto developers which was pretty much word for word that was said when the X1 came out with some games not in 1080p.


Well it is true that developers will choose to focus on different areas. Again, this is not an X1 issue. Both consoles have this problem. The PC is the platform where you dont have to develop within a confined limit of resources (granted, most developers still build their games to work on a wide range of hardware, but its much more open).

I guess the problem here is that he did not come out and say that a new sdk, etc was being worked on to give more power to developers.

The reason I dont think its a big deal is becuase MS has officially laid out their plans for the March update, which clearly include references to improved performance. So obviously they are in fact working to make things better. How big of a change will it be? We wil have to wait and see.

I have a feeling that we will see a series of updates throughout the year that include a focus on improving performance. MS was not able to bring out mature drivers or a mature sdk at launch. Its not an excuse, its just what happened. They rushed to release and that was that.