Microsoft unveiled its awaited next-gen Xbox during a media presentation at its Redmond headquarters this morning. Xbox One, as it’s called, will launch worldwide “later this year.”
Xbox One, like its name implies, is designed to be an “powerful, all-in-one device,” according to Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Bushiness president Don Mattrick. “Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment.”
The company today debuted the system, controller, and redesigned Kinect, all of which are bundled with the platform. Find full details below.
The Xbox One hardware is “sleek and modern,” shaped in the 16:9 aspect ratio, and employs a horizontal orientation optimized for its “high-speed” Blu-ray player.
- 8-Core x86 processor
- 5 Billion+ transistors
- 8 gigabytes of DDR3 RAM
- Native 64-bit architecture
- 500 gigabyte non-removable hard-drive
- Blu-ray drive
- HDMI In/Out
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- USB 3.0 (3 ports)
The Xbox One controller has been updated with “more than 40″ technical and design innovations, including an updated d-pad, thumb stick, and ergonomic fit. The controller has been designed to work “in concert” with the new Kinect, which are paired automatically for “seamless player syncing.”
- Integrated Battery Compartment
- Impulse Triggers
- Wi-Fi Direct Radio Stack
- Precision Directional Panel
The new, 1080p Kinect has been “completely redesigned” and is “more precisise” and “intuitive.” It promises to offer “unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology” and an expanded field of view. It will work in almost “any lighting condition,” including the dark, recognizes precise motion control like “slight wrist rotation,” and can distinguish your voice even in a noisy room using its “advanced noise isolation.”
- 1080p HD RGB
- 30 FPS Color
- Time of Flight (TOF) Technology
- Microphone Arrays
At the core of the system is its personalized home screen, which shows your favorite games, videos, friends, trending content (content popular among your friends and the Xbox LIVE community), and so on. You can reach this screen by turning on the console using the phrase “Xbox On.”
Your TV box is integrated with Xbox One. You’ll be able to navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco, or satellite boxes. Using Kinect, you can instantly switch between programs and applications. For example, say “Xbox TV” and it will instantly jump to the TV box.
OneGuide, the system’s integrated channel guide, will allow you to easily find your entertainment of choice by searching network, name, or time with your voice using Kinect.
Multi-tasking and Skype
The system will also offer multi-tasking. For example, you can use the new Snap feature to jump into a multiplayer battle while watching a movie at the same time. Or to chat with friends on Skype while watching live TV. Or to track your fantasy football team while watching a live game on TV.
Skype has been specifically designed for the new system. For the first time, you’ll be able to hold group calls on your TV.
Xbox One “does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet,” according to Microsoft. You’ll have to connect to the internet at least once a day for the system to continue functioning.
“We’re designing Xbox One to be your all-in-one entertainment system that is connected to the cloud and always ready. We are also designing it so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection.”
Game Activation and Installation
Xbox One games must be installed to the hard-drive. Each game will include a unique single-use code that you enter when you install it. After authorization, the game will be linked to your Xbox LIVE account. Other users on that console will also be able to play the game.
You can still bring the game to a friend’s house, install it on their system, and play it on your profile. However, should they want to play it on their account, they’ll have to pay the full price of the game.
But that doesn’t mean trade-ins are dead. You’ll still be able to trade-in and resell games at retail. And you’ll also be able to trade-in your used games online. Details on both methods will be shared at a later date.
Xbox One will not function without Kinect attached, Microsoft has told IGN, as it is “now an essential and integrated part of the platform.”
Xbox One will have “multiple power states” so that it can remain always on. At the lowest setting, the new Kinect will be powered on and listening for specific commands, such as “Xbox On” to fully power up the system. Microsoft has said Kinect will only be listening for specific cues, such as the aforementioned, and is making privacy a “top priority.”
Xbox One is not backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games.
Xbox LIVE on Xbox One will be “more powerful, more personal, and more intelligent.” Using the power of the cloud, it will allow games to be installed in segments so that you can start playing right away, and it download game updates in the background. Players will be able to store their profile, games, saves, and entertainment to the cloud for “anytime” access from any Xbox One console. Existing Xbox LIVE Gold subscriptions will carry over to the new platform.
New features include:
- Smart Match: A new Smart Match matchmaking system virtually eliminates waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding people you want to play with while you are enjoying other activities. Reputation fundamentally matters and helps find best matches.
- Game DVR: A dedicated Game DVR captures and accesses your magic moments, all saved to the cloud. Along with sharing tools, you will have the most amazing bragging rights with Xbox Live.
- Living Games: Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and advanced artificial intelligence can learn to play like you, so friends can play against your shadow.
- Expanded Achievements: A new and expanded achievements system captures video of all your moments, continues to grow a game’s achievements over time, and rewards you in new ways. Your Gamerscore from Xbox 360 will also carry over.
- Xbox SmartGlass: Xbox SmartGlass is natively part of the Xbox One platform, built in from the beginning with the ability to quickly render content directly onto your device, and now more devices can connect at one time for multiplayer and shared entertainment.
- Friends List: You can now have up to 1,000 friends on Xbox LIVE.
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft Entertainment)
- Battlefield 4 (ELectronic Arts)
- Call of Duty: Ghosts (Activision Publishing)
- Destiny (Activision Publishing)
- EA Sports UFC (Electronic Arts)
- FIFA 14 (Electronic Arts)
- Forza Motorsport 5 (Microsoft Game Studios)
- Madden NFL 25 (Electronic Arts)
- NBA LIVE 14 (Electronic Arts)
- Quantum Break (Microsoft Game Studios)
- Ryse (Microsoft Game Studios)
- Thief (Square Enix)
- Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Entertainment)
Microsoft also said it has 15 first-party games, eight of which are new IP, one of which is a new Rare game, in development which will be released within the system’s first year.
- Halo TV series
- NFL Partnership: A multiyear, landmark partnership that will deliver the “ultimate interactive” NFL television experiences to the Xbox One and “leverage Microsoft devices and services to evolve both in-game and on the sideline.” This partnership promises to “redefine broadcast experiences through innovations around Skype, Xbox SmartGlass and player-worn technology,” “add an all-new fantasy football solution for the biggest screen in the house,” and “create a personalized NFL destination only available on Xbox One.”
Microsoft also published a brief Q&A about the system.
Q: Does Xbox One require an “always on” Internet connection?
A: No, it does not have to be always connected, but Xbox One does require a connection to the Internet. We’re designing Xbox One to be your all-in-one entertainment system that is connected to the cloud and always ready. We are also designing it so you can play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if you lose your connection.
Q: How do consumers benefit by being connected to the cloud?
A: The cloud makes every experience better and more accessible. Because Xbox One is powered by the cloud:
- Your games have more power available to create new gameplay, persistent worlds, and deeper experiences.
- Your system and games can update automatically, so you shouldn’t have to wait for downloads or updates.
- Your games and entertainment are stored and saved in the cloud, so you can access them anytime, from any Xbox One.*
- Start a game, movie, or TV show on one console and finish exactly where you left off on another.
- You can play multiplayer games with your friends, stream movies or TV shows right away, and enjoy the community and social features of Xbox Live.
- Xbox One can recognize you, log you in and tailor your home screen just for you.
You can discover what your friends are playing, watching and listening to if they choose to share.
These are just a few examples of how customers benefit from our platform being connected to the Internet. It brings the future of TV and games to our consumers—and it’s designed for today and the decade ahead.
* Subject to content geographical restrictions.
Q: When will Xbox One launch and in what markets?
A: Xbox One will launch in markets around the world later this year. We’ll have more to share later.
Q: Can I use my current gamertag on Xbox One and will my Gamerscore and Achievements transfer?
A: Yes. Your current Xbox Live Gamertag will stay with you on Xbox One if you choose to keep it, and your hard-earned Gamerscore and Achievements will indeed carry over from Xbox 360.
Q: Will Xbox One be backward compatible with my existing games?
A: Xbox One hardware is not compatible with Xbox 360 games. We designed Xbox One to play an entirely new generation of games—games that are architected to take full advantage of state-of-the-art processors and the infinite power of the cloud. We care very much about the investment you have made in Xbox 360 and will continue to support it with a pipeline of new games and new apps well into the future.
Q: Will Xbox One allow players to trade in, purchase and play pre-owned games?
A: We are designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games. We’ll have more details to share later.
Q: Will my current Xbox Live Gold membership work with Xbox One or will I have to buy a new one?
A: You do not need to buy a new Xbox Live Gold membership. Your current membership will work on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Q: Why require Kinect with every Xbox One?
A: The all new Kinect is now an essential and integrated part of the platform. By having it as a consistent part of every Xbox One, game and entertainment creators can build experiences that assume the availability of voice, gesture and natural sensing, leading to unrivaled ease of use, premium experiences and interactivity for you.
Q: Do I need to have a specific cable or satellite TV provider to watch live TV on Xbox?
A: Our goal is to enable live TV through Xbox One in every way that it is delivered throughout the world, whether that’s television service providers, over the air or over the Internet, or HDMI-in via a set top box (as is the case with many providers in the US). The delivery of TV is complex and we are working through the many technologies and policies around the world to make live TV available where Xbox One is available.
Q: Xbox One is a more powerful product compared to Xbox 360, but does it also use more power?
A: No. By providing multiple power states in Xbox One, we’ve balanced energy efficiency with functionality. We’ve taken a completely different approach to how Xbox One consumes power. It only uses the power it needs at that particular moment for the task at hand.