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Letters from the Front

By the end of this year, the Xbox One will be dead and long forgotten, nothing more than a mere memory of a bad time. A time that will be confined to the annals of gaming history where historians will dig up in the far distant future to understand and learn what happened in the past. The Xbox Series X is changing everything, it is poised to lead Microsoft and the Xbox division into a very bright future, with a lot more investment into content than ever before.

Before we move ahead into the future, let’s take a little trip down memory lane and reminisce what really could’ve been in this generation of hardware so let’s begin

PART I: A DIGITAL FUTURE

The story has been told a million different times. Microsoft originally pitched the Xbox One as an always-online digital-first console, with PC- equivalent discs that came with digital licenses, transferrable via participating retailers. To be fair, PC gaming was already like this in 2013, it’s been this way since the rise of Steam in 2004. However, in the console space, this route was never before seen and found the attempt to be anti-consumer. Was it really that bad?

Today, July 14th, 2020 I do not own a single physical game for my Xbox One, the last time I purchased a physical disc was in 2015 with the arrival of Fallout 4. I instead own over 200 digital games.

Over the past 7 years, Microsoft has pivoted hard away from their original Xbox One vision, leaving us without a lot of the licenses that they promised, including the “up to ten family members” sharing of licenses. Now, today, we only to get to share our games with those accessing the local license, which is a far cry from the 2013 reveal.

PART II: The Death of Kinect & Voice Commands

Kinect and voice commands is a total point of a frustration for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, Kinect had a great deal of potential, it was the highest selling device of 2011 for crying out loud. Second, it was stupid to force Kinect down consumers’ throats at the original launch, which inflated the console’s price point, without giving us a reason on why we should have the Kinect or proving the value of the Kinect.

A few years later, Microsoft released a bundle without Kinect, and eventually, killed it off in 2017 and now, it is rumored that the Series X won’t even support Kinect via USB, which tells us that Kinect is now a part of history.

The games on the Kinect weren’t that great, but some of them were okay and it was a good entertainment value for families who wanted to play with their children. It was kind of exciting to see where the tech would go in future iterations of Kinect but it was never meant to be, Kinect now lives on inside HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

As for voice commands, that was the biggest missed opportunity with Kinect and Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual A.I. The technology could’ve paved the way for the now deceased Cortana to become a legitimate contender in the home, the lack of vision and leadership led to the death of Cortana, which is effectively useless at this point.

PART III: Integrating Entertainment: The Potential of Cortana & Kinect

Kinect enabled in some ways a futuristic scenario that we take for granted. In the future, everyone will remember Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa and various other smart home solutions out there in the wild, but never forget, that the Xbox One alongside the Kinect and Cortana were the first to do it and were among the first to give us this sort of experience.

When I used to get home from school back in the early years of the Xbox One generation, I could say “Turn Xbox on” and ignite the console or in 2016, I could say “Cortana, record that” after pulling off a epic play in which resulted in me getting a 5 or 6 man kill on Battlefield 1. Never forget.

Last but not least, is that the Xbox Series X will refocus on what the Xbox does best. What it was always meant to do. Run games. That’s the sole function of the Xbox. In that respective matter, the Xbox Series X will probably be the most powerful console of this generation. The Xbox One did too much and it is time to leave it behind in the dust where it belongs.

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