With only a few hours until the Xbox One finally hits store shelves in North America, gamers across the continent are gearing up for their first (or maybe their second) experience with the next-gen. However, while the Xbox One console itself offers up a few nifty new features, the true test of the next-gen console’s prowess will be its launch line-up, which includes titles like Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, and Forza Motorsport 5.
But, as we gamers are a mindful folk, there is also significant consideration being put in by Microsoft to ensure the console’s longevity through its first year. That includes plenty of titles in the winter and the spring.
According to Microsoft‘s Phil Spencer, the Xbox One console owner will not be left high and dry like their Xbox 360 counterparts after launch. Instead, Microsoft has a solid line-up of first and third party content planned to keep them engaged through 2014.
Spencer cited titles like Project Spark, Kinect Sports Rivals, Titanfall, and Destiny as solid triple-A releases that will ensure the Xbox One owner does not want for content. Similarly, he said there are Xbox One first-party titles in development for 2014 that he can’t yet reveal.
For those hoping Microsoft might copy Sony and announce some new games at their launch event, Spencer has some bad news: it’s not happening. Gamers should keep their eyes peeled to Spike VGX 2013, however, as Microsoft purportedly has some announcements to make there.
In a different interview with Polygon, Phil Spencer also explained why Microsoft has not been as quick to adopt free-to-play and indie games as its major competitor. Granted, Microsoft has announced an initiative to allow self-publishing on the Xbox One, but that was a late-game announcement, and one that seemed spurned on by gamer backlash.
Yet, as Spencer explains, Microsoft is making strides in both the free-to-play and indie spaces. For free-to-play, the transition to Xbox One might take a little more time, as the console needs to establish a firm install base before games that deploy the model might find success.
“On Xbox 360 we’ve got a number of free-to-play games and we’re learning about what the console space is like for free-to-play, because it’s different than PC or mobile. You have to think specifically about the audience you have on console, what they expect. But the learning that we’re doing on 360 with the partners we have on free-to-play is definitely something I look forward to bringing to Xbox One.”
For indie games, Microsoft is apparently drawing a lot of attention from smaller developers who are looking for greater exposure. Spencer believes that the [email protected] program, Microsoft’s name for their self-publishing program, is a major draw around the globe.
It might take some time, but free-to-play and indie games are in the pipeline, and Microsoft is seemingly doing everything in their power to do right by the gamers and the developers.
In addition to some more substantial Xbox One talk, we have a few news bits to share, including the announcement the YouTube app will be available at launch. Gamers can control the app using Kinect‘s voice or gesture features, and they can view videos in full 1080p on the console.
Another app slated to hit the Xbox One at launch is SmartGlass, which adds a full suite of features to gamers’ second screen experience. With the app, gamers can search for games, keep up with friends, and personalize their dashboard. The app can also help speed up the process of setting up the Xbox One console.
Several launch titles and feature film releases will also be taking advantage of SmartGlass in order to provide a more immersive experience. One of the major features highlighted by Microsoft is the ability to use SmartGlass as a smartphone in Dead Rising 3.
And finally, among all this talk of features that will make the launch-day cut, we have one new omission: Dolby Digital support through the optical port. In Kotaku‘s review of the Xbox One console, they reveal that while the console supports Dolby Digital surround sound through HDMI, the sound format is not available through optical out. The optical port does support stereo and DTS, just not Dolby.
That means any gamers with a Dolby-only headset will only get a stereo signal…for now. Microsoft’s Albert Penello was quick to respond to the audiophile backlash, saying that the feature is on the way.
The Xbox One is almost upon us, and very soon gamers will get to see what Microsoft has crafted for their next-gen experience. Obviously, the main focus is the console as it stands now, but it’s good to know there are also some quality content, features, etc. in the pipeline as well.
What Xbox One release are you most looking forward to in 2014? Are you disappointed the console doesn’t support Dolby Digital through its optical port?
Microsoft’s Xbox One releases November 22, 2013.