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Microsoft Xbox One Conference - An Unbiased View -- Almost

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Xbox One

Looks like Microsoft will not be receiving any PR awards based on its conference where little if any really innovative features of the new system were revealed. The Microsoft conference was held in Redmond, Washington on May 21, 2013, 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Xbox - A New Generation Revealed

The tag line of the event was "Xbox - A New Generation Revealed." Following a montage of people shown as an intro to the event, Don Mattrick, President of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment took the stage. He discussed the previous accomplishments of the Xbox 360 since its launch 8 years ago, as well as the current goals of the system today, which include making your television set more intelligent. He talked about how living rooms have changed and how the new Xbox will make it change even more. Designed to be an All in One System, the next Xbox video game console is expected to be: Simple, Instant and Complete.

New Name - Xbox One

Don Mattrick introduced the new generation Xbox as the Xbox One -- not the Xbox 720 or some other name the system may have been called previously. The system's new name is officially Xbox One. Visuals of the new system were shown and depending on your preference, you either liked or disliked it. In my opinion, the system, including the controller, did not look revolutionary, new or different. However, in Bill Mattrix's words, the system was "built to amaze."

Xbox One Demos

Yusuf Mehdi of Microsoft demonstrated the system using voice commands. Some of the enhancements he discussed were that the system is always ready and connected, manual log ins are going away, and the system will remember what you were doing last, and return you back to that screen once you log in. Other new features included "Trending" where you can see what your friends are watching, as well as television schedules. Additionally you can use hand motions to instantly return to screens. He also talked about the new Snap Mode as well as using Skype not only for individual calls, but for group calls as well. Some of these features were demonstrated in conjunction with his mobile phone.

The technicalities of how these features were done were explained by Marc Whitten of Microsoft who took the stage next. The tag line of his presentation was that Xbox One was designed by gamers for gamers. Andrew Wilson of Electronic Arts followed and discussed sports video games that will be playable on the Xbox One, namely, FIFA 14, Madden NFL, NBA Live and UFC. These games will be powered by a new engine called EA Ignite. He stated these games will have about 10 times more animation and depth in motion, than what was provided previously. More attention will also be focused on the crowds watching the sports events. His presentation included live sports players discussing their games, such as football, basketball and soccer. 

The head of Microsoft Studios, Phil Spencer followed and discussed how the video game, Motorsport Fortza 5, will play on the new system.

Games for the Xbox One

It was announced that there will be 15 exclusive games available at the launch of the Xbox On with 8 of the 15 being brand new franchises, Specific titles of the games were not provided.

Halo 

Nancy Tellem of Microsoft and Bonnie Ross, general manager and studio head of 343 Industries discussed Halo which will be an upcoming television series. Steven Spielberg, via satellite, also talked about the Halo television series.

The rest of the conference included Don Mattrick returning to the stage restating that the Xbox One will be an All in One system for all living rooms. He added that Xbox One will have exclusive, interactive content which will bring fantasy football to life. There will also be a partnership between Xbox and the NFL -- only for the Xbox One. 

Xbox One Launch Date

A specific launch date for the Xbox One was not disclosed during the conference. The statement made was that Xbox One will "launch around the world later this year."

More at E3

Most of the presentations were suffixed with the notice that more information will be shared at E3 in June, 2013.

Xbox One Conference Finale

The conference ended with a world premiere of Call of Duty Ghost, introduced and shown by Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision. According to Eric Hirshberg, Call of Duty Ghosts will provide gameplay driven tech, a whole new story, a whole new world, a different cast of characters, character customizations, gameplay involving fighting against superiors, a super elite fighting force, dynamic mass, player driven action, artificial intelligence, new weapons never seen before, revamped multiplayer, and something unique -- a fighting dog based upon an actual seal team dog -- and much more.

The Microsoft conference, in my opinion, did not show anything overly different. Some of these features are readily available on your television set with just a touch of your remote, and voice commands are currently available on the Xbox 360 using the Kinect.

Interesting enough, the controversy over not being able to play used games on the system was not brought up duing the conference.

On a positive note, Microsoft did show the actual Xbox One clearly, without any shroud of mystery -- unlike the previous Sony conference where the PS 4 next generation system was nowhere to be seen.

With E3 just around the corner, maybe Microsoft has something else more innovative up its sleeve to reveal?  What do you think?

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