Last week Microsoft unveiled its successor to the Xbox 360, the Xbox One. While most gamers are concerned about how you'll actually be able to play games on the device (including the loss of backwards compatibility and the issues with used games), Microsoft went out of their way to show off the device as an all-in-one home entertainment system. They reiterated how they want to integrate TV into the experience -- even going so far as to add an additional HDMI port so that the Xbox becomes a pass-through device for cable or satellite boxes. There has been plenty of negativity about the changes, but might the focus on all around seamless entertainment actually open up new ways of storytelling?
If you missed it, here is an overview of the new Xbox One:
Original Content Push with the Xbox One
Microsoft wants to be into your living room, and they are making a big push for original content, including hiring Steven Spielberg to produce a Halo television series. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles its original content going forward. Will they take on a Netflix model and spend gobs of money in order to produce content on-par with the HBOs of the world? Will they opt to develop content similar to YouTube's initiatives, and aim directly for kids and teens, who make up a large percentage of their audience? Or will they take a Windows approach, and attempt to please as many audiences and get in front of as many faces as possible?
If Microsoft wants to compete with actual cable in terms of original content, they'll have to approach more than just Hollywood, so we could see much more original programming from new faces and new voices in the future. While it seems like they have been quiet on indie-developed, will they possibly open up indie channels for movies or TV shows with their new content initiative? This could be a quick way for them to gain a tremendous amount of original content, and it would certainly save them some money.
It will also be interesting to see how Microsoft and content makers use the "smart" capabilities of the system. Televisions with internet capabilities haven't made too much of a dent in the home market, but a system like the Xbox One could find its way into 100 million homes. This could be the first real device for transmedia storytelling -- one that combines gaming, movies, TV, and the web to deliver a unique experience for each that seamlessly folds into a single system.
Xbox One and 4K
This also could be the first device people own capable of playing and upscaling 4K content. It has been confirmed that the Xbox One will support 4K resolutions, but since the device will likely only have HDMI 1.4 inside, it will have a maximum resolution of 4K at 30fps. This will be fine for most movies, but if 4K support ever comes for games on the system (most games for the current Xbox 360 are only 720p), it may be a problem, as HDMI 1.4 is limited to 30fps at 4K. If we are going to experience 4K content on television sets in the near future, a console like the Xbox One or the PS4 is a logical delivery system -- and they should both be great upscalers for 1080p content to 4K.
What do you guys think? What kinds of new storytelling do you think is possible with a device like this? Do you see the Kinect being used in ways that bridges the gap between movies and games? Let us know what you think below.