After nearly 3 million gamers lined up on day one, or shortly thereafter, to pick up an Xbox One console, the first part of Microsoft’s job was done. They got the console into the homes of excited gamers, and introduced them to the next phase of the Xbox experience.
However, although the Xbox One boasts a few intriguing console exclusives, cool TV functionality, and a proper base platform, there are still plenty of ways the console can improve. And that’s exactly what Microsoft hopes to do in the next few months: make the Xbox One better for the end-user.
Speaking at CES, Microsoft’s Marc Whitten revealed that the first major update for the Xbox One will likely be targeted at the console’s social features. The Xbox Live experience is still in need of a considerable amount of polish — specifically with regards to parties — and Whitten hopes those issues will be smoothed over by the first update.
“The feedback we’ve gotten is pretty valid; some of the social stuff is hidden or harder to use than it was on the Xbox 360. So you’re gonna see us come out with an update where, well, we’re going to fix those things. As a person who’s been pretty involved in building Xbox Live for the last decade, I take it pretty seriously when people say it’s harder to get into a party, and the defaults aren’t right, and I don’t like the model. So what I’m trying to do with the team is kind of theme some stuff up. Let’s take an update and really go through a big list of what we’re hearing from customers, what we know is broken with the architecture, areas that we want to improve or complete. I think that’s a theme you’ll really see us push on — that Live experience.”
Obviously, if you’ve read our 5 Features the Xbox One is Missing at Launch post then you know the Xbox One is very much a work in progress. Simple features like support for YouTube uploads were missing from the launch product, which came as a disappointment.
As far as those features, chances are we won’t get an update like that until some time after E3 2014. As Whitten explains, Microsoft’s plan is to outline a series of changes that will hit between E3 2014 and next year’s event.
“My general strategy at E3 is to talk about things that are gonna happen from that E3 to the next E3. So, we are not yet to the next E3.”
Unlike with the Xbox 360, however, the Xbox One will see a greater frequency of updates. Some will be the usual large-scale updates, which typically introduce a new look for the dashboard and add oft-requested features, while others will be smaller, background updates that make the console run a little faster.
“You’re still gonna see the big, ‘Hey, here’s the cool stuff we’re doing.’ But you’re also gonna see the box just get better faster than you did in the past.”
The good news is that Microsoft is working towards making the Xbox One user experience better, but it’s nonetheless disappointing that party features were so troublesome at launch. Social interactions are a key pillar of the console experience, and they are borderline broken on the Xbox One, or at least not worth the headache if you plan to do anything more than play a single game with a handful of friends. Here’s to hoping this first update comes sooner rather than later.
What changes would you like to see introduced in a future Xbox One update? What areas should Microsoft target first?