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xbox belongAfter E3, I, like most of my gaming friends, cheered for Sony as they gave us everything that Microsoft “took away”. I argued with my Xbox loyalist friends about how the always-on DRM would prevent people less fortunate than I from even playing the console. Not to mention the men and women fighting wars in other countries who have no way of connecting their consoles to the internet, or the wonderful indie game support the PS4 was providing. Oh what a wonderful company Sony was for not doing what Microsoft did and for $100 dollars less! (Well, $40 dollars less. The price to include a New PlayStation Eye is $60, which would make the bundles equal.)

I pondered pre-ordering the PS4 right after all the E3 hype, but then realized I didn’t want any games that were releasing for it. Yet today I write this article about how I am now going to pre-order the XBOX ONE. My mind had been mulling over the many arguments on each side, archiving the articles I read and arguments with my friends. And it dawned on me that this was the right choice for me.

Arguments and 180’s

Although I enjoyed trolling Xbox enthusiasts, I never truly had a problem with the always on DRM or lack of game trading. I have a high speed internet connection at home, and don’t plan on playing my console during a power outage. I also buy PC games regularly and I don’t have a way of trading those in so I am already used to that type of eco-system. And if that had stayed as part of the XBOX ONE’s features, then maybe we could have looked forward to Steam-esque summer sales. I also did not have a problem with the always connected Kinect 2. We had a debate at Once & Future about this feature which you can read here: 1,2,3,4. However, none of these “features” matter now, as Microsoft has said “JK” on all of them. You can trade games, play offline, and get an XBOX ONE without unplug your Kinect. I felt that, although they were giving gamers what they want now, they’re hindering where gaming should be going later. We should always be online using the cloud, and we should be talking to our living rooms. PC games have been using game licenses over physical products for as long as I can remember so why worry about how much money GameStop might lose by “killing” the used game industry. Furthermore, when is the last time you brought a game to a friend’s house? 2006? Living room play is dead on everything except a Nintendo Console (YAY for my Wii U!). And now, with Kinect 2 no longer being required, fewer developers will implement Kinect features.

EDIT: Every XBOX ONE comes with Kinect, it is just not required to be plugged in for the console to function, letting consumers have the choice of whether to keep it plugged in at all times or not. This should alleviate the fear of the Kinect always watching and peering into your soul, much like the eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg. There are also rumors about Microsoft bringing back the always-on cloud gaming, perhaps with an opt-in/opt-out agreement, let’s just hope the cloud computing isn’t like the Sim City fiasco earlier this year.

Games

I feel that this may be the most important category in most gamer’s minds. Last generation there were far better exclusives on PS3 than Xbox 360. With Uncharted, Little Big Planet, God of War, The Last of Us, Heavy Rain, Ratchet and Clank, Metal Gear Solid 4, Infamous, Killzone, Sing Star, and Gran Turismo, it was a pretty varied and mostly incredible set of games. Xbox 360 had Gears of War, Halo, Fable, Forza, Dead or Alive, Dead Rising 1, Blue Dragon, and Crackdown. As much as I enjoyed most of these games, critically the PS3 exclusives did better.

Looking into Next Gen however, what I want to see are new ideas and new games to get excited about. At E3 Sony did not have much to show other than a new Killzone, Infamous, and Knack. Everything else notable that they showed was either multi-console or coming to PS3. Microsoft had 6 new IPs to get excited about. I love sequels and will be stoked for a new Uncharted or Halo but new experiences are what the new generation of consoles is supposed to be about. There are five of those that Microsoft announced at their conference, three of which are launch titles: Lococycle, Sunset Overdrive, Ryse: Son of Rome, Project Spark, Crimson Dragon, and just a best of E3 title named TITANFALL.

Titanfall

Yes, this game gets its own section. The only game I look forward to more is Super Smash Brothers. I mean have you seen this gameplay video? “But Taylor!” you say, “It will be on your beloved PC!” Yes, I know that. But have you played any other multiplayer FPS EA games on PC lately? I have. The Battlefield 3 Battlelog is a nightmare to use and Punkbuster is a piece of crap. I would rather have Microsoft take care of all of that stuff on their servers and streamline the amazing experience Titanfall will be right into my XBOX ONE.

Titanfall

LOOK AT IT! LOOOOK AT ITTTTTTTT!

Rumbly Triggers

The XBOX ONE controller has extra motors in the triggers to give you that much more feedback when pressing down the gas in a car, firing a gun, or unleashing a fireball. It feels like the logical next step for integrating the controller into the gaming experience, and as of now the XBOX ONE is the only way to get that experience.

Graphics

This is a non-argument. The PC wins this every time. So just shut up about who has more RAM or a better graphics chip. The games will look practically identical on both consoles just like this current generation.

Indie Games

Indie games will always be better and more plentiful on PC. So I don’t care how great the support is or isn’t on either console. Overall Xbox 360 had a better selection of arcade titles, the announced the Independent Developers @ Xbox program which gives indie devs the ability to self publish games, AND they now have a new game coming from the Sword and Sworcery guys titled “Below” exclusively for the XBOX ONE.

Click for the trailer

Kinect

I really love my Kinect. Talking to my Xbox 360 is one of the most gratifying things I do. It feels so darn future-y. I also love all my Kinect Sports games and truly enjoy dancing games. I am very excited what is in store for the Kinect 2 with Harmonix/Disney’s new Fantasia game, Ryse: Son of Rome, and Kinect Sports: Rivals. With the Kinect 2 shipping with every XBOX ONE, there is no reason for developers to shy away from it. It will only push the technology forward, and hopefully bring gamers more immersive gaming experiences. And hey, if you don’t want it staring at you all the time, unplug it from your console. I will not, because I want to walk into my room and say, “Xbox On” in pure futuristic bliss.

What do I use my console for?

What I use most are the video apps and movie playing functions of my consoles more. One of our other editors on The Once and Future, Chris Gatley, wrote about this phenomenon and what it means for the war for your living room. You can read that here. Not that I don’t play games, mind you. I put time aside for gaming, but not as much on my console as my PC. Not even knowing that the entertainment system qualities would be a huge factor in my choice for next gen, it has now become one of the most important ones.

Blu-ray aside, as this won’t be a factor for next gen consoles, the best system for plopping down on my couch and enjoying an episode of Community with my girlfriend is my Xbox 360. But the Netflix app on PS3 is 1000x better you say? I agree, but the PS3 doesn’t have the ultimate living room tool to make your home entertainment center complete, Kinect.

Telling my Xbox 360 commands to get straight to Hulu Plus or Netflix without touching a controller is a lazy man’s dream. Using it to Pause and Resume as I get up to grab a beer or food is priceless. Kinect 2 is supposedly better at this, and will recognize that I am the one making the commands, customizing my home screen for my needs. It can also send out IR signals to other media devices in my living room to control them as well, only further making the XBOX ONE the center of my entertainment. Almost under my nose, the Xbox 360 has become an integral part of my living room and paved the way for the XBOX ONE to have stolen it away.

Verdict

With new IP’s, a better, if not comparable, launch lineup, no features to hate, and integration with my living room I am going to reserve a XBOX ONE. The PS4, may be a better gaming console, and if that is what you want, then get one. I will be picking up one myself sometime next year. But since the XBOX ONE is an entertainment center that also plays some truly amazing looking games (and allows me to yell at it), it ends up being my first choice. The XBOX ONE seems to be pushing gaming as well as single box entertainment forward, and the PS4 may be stuck in the past.