I wish I still had a good reason to say those words.
On November 22 2013 Microsoft launched the Xbox One, a next-gen gaming device that I’ve owned for almost a month now. For the majority of that month my One has seen next to no usage thanks to a distinct lack of content on the device.
My first week with the One was fantastic; I loved playing with my new device, using voice commands to control the hardware felt great. It was as though the future had become the present. Dead Rising 3 was the first next-gen title I owned, a pretty fun, albeit mindless zombie killing romp. Developed by Capcom and published by Microsoft it made great, if gimmicky use of the Kinect 2.0 and incorporated second screen (Smart Glass) functionality.
Next on my playlist was Ubisoft’s, Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, a game that I wasn’t originally planning on picking up but the boat-load of positive press it received got my interest piqued. Turns out it’s a bit of an anomaly. It’s a game that is way more fun than the sum of its parts. I frequently found myself intensely bored or frustrated with it, but for some indiscernible reason it kept me coming back for me for more.
Upon wrapping up Black Flag, I installed the free copies of FIFA 14 and Killer Instinct I received and briefly flirted with both. Unfortunately I’m not a fan of football; neither do I have the patience or dexterity for beat-em ups so those two have remained largely untouched. Since then Microsoft haven’t released anything of note to the digital marketplace.
So that was that. The well had run dry. The honeymoon was over.
In the space of four weeks my One has gone from a cutting edge piece of tech to a slightly dusty Skype machine. And even that will functionality will cease on January 21st, when my trial subscription to Gold will expire. I could cough up the £3 a month to renew it but as someone predominately focused on single-player experiences Gold has very little to offer me. Take multiplayer out of the equation and what are we left with? In all honesty, not much. Gold grants me access to Internet Explorer and few other video apps, the majority of which, if not all, are available for free on other devices.
There is of course the Games with Gold scheme that gives subscribers two free 360 games a month, but that isn’t even a service offered to One owners. Even then the games that they do give away are usually titles that can easily be found in bargain bins across the land. When compared that to what Sony are offering subscribers of PlayStation Plus, Microsoft’s service looks embarrassing in comparison. Just this month Sony gave away Don’t Starve, and next month subscribers are set to receive Outlast. What did Microsoft give away this month? Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider and the Guardian of Light. Big deal.
To see Sony pushing exciting indie content like this leaves me feeling a little abandoned by Microsoft. When they finally got round to announcing their ID@Xbox policy I was excited at the potential power it put into the hands of developers but we’ve heard almost nothing on that front. In early December Microsoft unveiled a list a of developers who are working with the platform but very few actual games were announced. Shortly after that program director Chris Charla said that we can expect to see titles launch in March. March? So what’s happening in the interim guys? Anything? Nothing?
I know this reads as a bit of a downer, but I’m actually pretty pleased with my purchase. I chose a One over a PlayStation 4 as I’m already heavily invested in that ecosystem and in my opinion the One has a stronger exclusive line-up. I can’t wait to get my hands on the likes of Below, D4 and Quantum Break. I’m aware that this is just a part of being an early adopter, but it kinda just feels like I’m in the dark here. Turn the light back on Microsoft, take a few pointers from Sony and give me some tangible information so that I can again say…