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Xbox One X: Consoles Hit the Downside of the Innovation Curve

by June 21, 2017

Microsoft unveiled its next generation game console at E3 last week, and it’s called Xbox One X. (Yes, that means Microsoft gamers are still going to continue playing with the unfortunate moniker - Xbone.) Microsoft says it’s keeping the Xbox One name for its new One X console because it’s still part of the Xbox One family. But does this make One X another sequential upgrade like last year’s launch of Xbox One S, or is this truly the “next generation” console? Or an even bigger question, is there even a difference these days?

No matter what the new console is called, One X is a legitimate powerhouse under the hood. One X constitutes a much greater leap from One S than One S was from the original One. But, does pimping out processing speed alone make for a new generation in gaming?

Hardware Specifications

The question of whether Xbox One X is just another incremental half-step like Xbox One S or a true next-gen console depends on how important native 4K HDR graphics are to you. Does simply raising pixel-pushing performance make for a truly next-generation experience? However you answer… Microsoft Xbox Chief Phil Spencer believes he's just raised the ante in its console war with Sony PlayStation.

Xbox One X


I look at (PS4) Pro as more of a competitor to (Xbox One) S than I do to Xbox One X.” Spencer said in an interview at E3. “This is a true 4K console. If you just look at the specs of what this box is, it’s in a different league than any other console that’s out there.”

He does have a point. Xbox One X will have 40-percent more graphics power over PS4 Pro. With native 4K and HDR gaming performance, a 4K/HDR-capable Blu-ray disc drive and Dolby Atmos audio support, Xbox One X is sure to take gaming to the next level for those who can afford its hefty $499 price tag.

Xbox One X vs. Nearest Competitor PS4 Pro


Xbox One X PS4 Pro
US price $499 $399
Release Date November 7, 2017 Available now
CPU Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz 2.1GHz 8-core AMD custom "Jaguar" CPU
GPU Integrated AMD graphics with 6 teraflops of performance Integrated AMD Polaris graphics with 4.2 teraflops of performance
RAM 12GB GDDR5 8GB GDDR5
Storage 1TB 1TB
Dimensions 11.8 x 9.4 x 2.4 inches, the "smallest Xbox ever" 12.8 x 11.6 x 2.1 inches
Weight 8.4 pounds 7.2 pounds
Color Black Black
Optical Drive 4K/HDR Blu-ray drive Blu-ray/DVD
4K Support Yes Yes
HDR Support Yes Yes

 New Look for Xbox

The new Xbox will follow design cues set by the Xbox One S with a more spare, space saving layout than the original Xbox One. X will be a bit smaller than the original One, and the new Xbox is dark grey instead of white, so there will be no getting the two confused.

Xbox One X Exclusive Games

ControllerThe Xbox One X will be the first of its kind, a gaming machine theoretically capable of native 4K HDR at 60fps in games, with a 4K HDR Blu-ray drive. It’s the first console to finally get 4K right.

So, Microsoft must have announced some games destined to be platform exclusives to tempt Xbox fans to snap up the One X as soon as it hits market, right?


Wrong!

 

Xbox One X has the capability to push four times the pixels in 4K than the original Xbox One, limited though it is to 1080P HD. But, One X won’t be leaving the old Xbox One library of games behind as Microsoft promises backward compatibility. Yes, not only will your Xbox One games run on Xbox One X, but a compatibility program will let you play Xbox 360 games on the One X via digital download after inserting your 360 game disc - this definitely beats PS4 to PS3 backward compatibility through PlayStation Now. But there will be no Xbox One X exclusives.

So, the cost of backward compatibility is a lack of new features to set it apart from Xbox One, and consequently, a void of new titles designed specifically to take advantage of the power of One X. It’s possibly the least exciting console generation upgrade in memory.

AnthemOnly Microsoft console gamers with a giant-screen OLED 4K HDR TV at home are likely to be excited about One X. For the 4K-ready consumer, Microsoft has promised software patches for many existing games to boost them to true 4K HDR. Future games built to Xbox One X specs will of course also be playable on Xbox One in a graphically neutered form. But, EVERY one of your library of older Xbox One games will experience an overall performance boost when played on One X. Microsoft has promised that “boosted” older games will get little bonuses like more stable framerates, faster load times etc. Skeptics among you might be forgiven for not getting too excited about these alleged enhancements though, as higher performance hardware doesn’t always result in granting software greater stability and performance. File "boosted" Xbox One games on X Box One X under the "I'll believe it when I see it" folder.

The closest thing to One X launch titles are really just patches for some of the more popular recent titles. Expect updates for Gears of War 4, Minecraft, Forza Motorsport 7 and Crackdown 3 that will unlock their inner 4K HDR video. But probably the most exciting of all was the reveal of a game-play trailer for BioWare's Anthem built for 4K glory and running on Xbox One X hardware.

  E3 Game-play Trailer, Anthem by BioWare

Conclusion

These are interesting times for consoles. Once upon a time a new console meant a complete library wipe. Backward compatibility was rare. But, that was a simpler time, when games didn’t have budgets of blockbuster movies. You can’t blame games developers for reluctance to risk the life-cycle of a new game on a new console’s sales. Plus… what is Xbox One X really bringing to the gaming table?

4K really is a big deal, but quite frankly both the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro should have got 4K HDR right already, with full native mode and optical drives for movies and games.

Now, One X offers what One S should have already accomplished. You can expect Sony to retaliate once it’s squeezed enough sales out of PS4 Pro. But One X has no new must-have features outside of processing speed and a higher resolution. If all the new generation of consoles is bringing are a few extra subtle details to an already high-def, high-gloss fully 3D rendered image quality… can we really call it next-gen?

As an old, jaded gamer, having been around since almost the first consoles ever. I still see 1080P as peak video. Don’t get me wrong, 4K HDR looks great when you’re standing in front of the display marveling at the detail, but when seated at a normal distance away from your TV, you can’t really see the UHD unless you’re sitting too close.

Ultra-High Def Gaming

The trouble with ultra-high definition in gaming is that in most home entertainment environments, you’re sitting back about ten feet from the display. The size of your screen should not exceed your peripheral vision when seated in your gaming position. If you’re playing to win you have to see all four corners of your 16:9 screen at once or risk missing the visual queues you need to be competitive. I’m ball parking here, but let’s say 60-inch is about maximum when you’re 10-12 feet back from your monitor. If that screen is any larger it’s filling just past your peripheral vision and you’ll need to constantly move your head and eyes to refocus, taking valuable micro-seconds away from your game. Or you’ll need to sit back further.

Therein lies the limits of resolution’s effectiveness. If you’re already ten feet back from a 60-inch screen, you may be aware that the resolution is higher than 1080P, but you’re not going to be able to see those details unless you’ve got superhuman eyes.

In the days when 16-bit consoles were bumped up to 32-bit and 64-bit graphics, it ushered in the 3D era in gaming and changed the way we played. The leap to a new console meant creating genres that had only been hinted at in the past. First-person shooters in 3-dimensional space, race games that put the driver in a rendition of the “real world” instead of a cartoon, sports games and RPGs that had so many detailed computations that reams of stats were being worked out in every confrontation. Each generation of consoles brought expanded gaming possibilities and more eye-popping realism compared to what had come before.

But those days are long gone. The last generation of consoles had to sell themselves as media players and social experiences just to make their way onto your shelf. There’s no doubt, the newer games are beautiful and we’re in a time now where the best-ever talent is creating epic gaming experiences with deep, nuanced stories and jaw-dropping graphics. There’s never been a better time to be a gamer. But somewhere between the obscene budgets of new games, and the unwillingness of investors to risk that budget on a new game play experience, new console releases just aren’t events anymore.

Xbox One X doesn’t bring anything new and revolutionary to gaming or home entertainment. It’s really nothing more than a new coat of paint on the same old thing you’ve been doing for years. But, perhaps that’s just a sign that consoles have finally arrived onto a sweet spot for gamers, it could be a good thing. Let’s hope that consoles being on the downside of an innovation bell-curve just means they can focus better games!

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About the author:

Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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Recent Forum Posts:

Cos posts on July 05, 2017 13:04
Tao1, post: 1196307, member: 73055
Hey sorry forgot to follow up here:

I mentioned it in passing, but I had tried to cover the subscription discounts with sites like GOG or humble bundle doing game bundles in a similar way. At least I assume that it is similar. I have not taken a look at the console bundles, but I assume they are not brand new games. Year old perhaps? If they are newer games, then I guess consoles have it pretty good for games then, but it doesn't make much sense to me for them to put up a walled garden, control sales, then offer those games for massive discounts without turning a profit for the subscriptions.

GOG is still growing. They were “Good old Games” then re branded last year to just “GOG” and are gradually selling more and more newer games on launch.

Yeah PC games can't resell, but I have also seen 50% off or more flash sales on games a few months in. On that note, I believe the graph is assuming purchase on or around release date and not waiting a while. Waiting a while the prices cited are waaaay out of whack. Waiting a year can net you 60-75% off a triple A game in the Steam summer sale.


I admit though that my claims could be out of whack. A lot of the data I have used is secondary research to fill the holes. Although ‘you should never trust claims made on the internet", I have heard the same conclusions from detailed write ups from different sources (more knowledgeable than I am) who own both platforms. I also haven’t heard anyone refute prices on games before. Even conceding similar cost, consoles are still giving up a lot of freedom over PC for no reciprocal benefit.


We will agree to disagree

To make this type of comparative cost analysis, and not factor in the benefits of the console environment as I outlined (Trade in Games, Free Games,buying used games at a discount, etc) makes it completely invalid IMO.

Additional Notes:
  • GoG is not there yet, I just used it this weekend, if you check out the website it's still selling witcher 3 for $49.99 an does not offer any New AAA titles on its site (Its 29.00 on consoles right now) Correction: GOY edition is 49.99 across all versions
  • Both PC and Console will have flash sales within a few months even Halo and Uncharted saw a quick price drops as examples
  • The same discounts for waiting on AAA games applies to consoles, my point is waiting you still have to pay for the games, with the Xbox/PS+ it is included. Which is why I used the $20.00 per game value for my 480 because those games are usually on the discount racks in retail. It was a great way me to try out games I normally wouldn't buy but were very fun. Live/PS+ pay for themselves in that regards
  • CDkeys.com is a good discount site for PC/Xbox/PS4 games that are at or near lauch
  • Amazon and many other sites will give you a small discount for preordering game
Walled Garden
It is definitely a closes system, I agree, as compared to the PC, but your comment implies too much of a negative connotation IMO
  • It, is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of buyer, its interface is completely integrated, while the PC has gotten better with this, the usability is simply better on a console
  • Integrated voice chat (no third party app you have to download, install set up) Integrated Movies you can order as well as tight integration with third party apps like Vudu, Netflix, Hulu, etc. It is a much easier process than working a PC
  • Easy way to navigate your installed games, save files etc.
  • Don't have to worry about computer virus infecting your OS and games
There is not doubt that you can emulate all the above features on a PC, but the simple fact is that it is easier to do on the console because its a closed ecosystem. PCs require more expertise, though that has gotten much better. PCs can do so much more as well. My point is that you only focus on the negative aspects.

Side Note: If you have an Amazon Prime account you cat get the 59.99 games for 47.99 when you pre-order games, so that gap is even closer.
slipperybidness posts on July 05, 2017 09:14
FYI, the newest XBOX One Controllers have built-in bluetooth (I think they call this the “S” model controller). So, if your PC has bluetooth, then there is no need for any wireless dongles.
Tao1 posts on July 05, 2017 02:20
Cos, post: 1195003, member: 14477
Again, I see you point out best case situations for PC games, and worst for Console:

  • You didn't acknowledge my comment on Free Games from the console subscription service 24 games at 20 bucks each value $480x8 years not to mention the independent free ones
  • If you want codes, Greenman has both full price and discount games
  • GoG is a great website, but 99% of those games are way,way older.
  • With Console you have the distinct advantage of selling back the game when you are done for anywhere from 15-25 depending on title (withn 3-4 monhts), it just doesn't work that way from the PC market. (Yes some games you want to keep, but for me they are few and far between, and even the ones that I do, I really haven't played again)
  • The graph is inaccurate to a huge degree IMO, it doesn't take these things into account and only assumes full retail value on console gaming, while discount gaming on PC. This graph is pretty useless IMO, because it doesn't provide a fair and accurate comparison for the points I pointed out above.
Thanks for the tip on Greenman gaming, like I said I am a PC gamer, but you are so one sided with your opinions, you are leaving out some important values from consoles.

Hey sorry forgot to follow up here:

I mentioned it in passing, but I had tried to cover the subscription discounts with sites like GOG or humble bundle doing game bundles in a similar way. At least I assume that it is similar. I have not taken a look at the console bundles, but I assume they are not brand new games. Year old perhaps? If they are newer games, then I guess consoles have it pretty good for games then, but it doesn't make much sense to me for them to put up a walled garden, control sales, then offer those games for massive discounts without turning a profit for the subscriptions.

GOG is still growing. They were “Good old Games” then re branded last year to just “GOG” and are gradually selling more and more newer games on launch.

Yeah PC games can't resell, but I have also seen 50% off or more flash sales on games a few months in. On that note, I believe the graph is assuming purchase on or around release date and not waiting a while. Waiting a while the prices cited are waaaay out of whack. Waiting a year can net you 60-75% off a triple A game in the Steam summer sale.


I admit though that my claims could be out of whack. A lot of the data I have used is secondary research to fill the holes. Although ‘you should never trust claims made on the internet", I have heard the same conclusions from detailed write ups from different sources (more knowledgeable than I am) who own both platforms. I also haven’t heard anyone refute prices on games before. Even conceding similar cost, consoles are still giving up a lot of freedom over PC for no reciprocal benefit.
Cos posts on June 27, 2017 14:13
Tao1, post: 1194914, member: 73055
The assumption of pricing in the graph is correct (at least close) even for AAA games. Generally large retailers like Greenman Gaming will sell PC games at a discount from day 1 or even earlier. Steam doesn't offer these discounts usually, but there are many online retailers who do. I have not paid the full $60 price tag on a new game in years. It is usually $45 (you have to catch a flash sale for $40 or less), but PC games are cheaper than console versions from launch day. 2-3 months after launch, you will generally find a weekend deal or such with the price into the thirties.

Yeah I realize the graph is inaccurate to some degree, but it still illustrates the concept I was trying to show. Consoles are paying for subscriptions to get deals that are inherent in the PC market. GOG and Humble bundle are retailers that often have insane deals which offer older games and some lesser indie titles for very cheap, or giveaways with other purchases.

Again, I see you point out best case situations for PC games, and worst for Console:

  • You didn't acknowledge my comment on Free Games from the console subscription service 24 games at 20 bucks each value $480x8 years not to mention the independent free ones
  • If you want codes, Greenman has both full price and discount games
  • GoG is a great website, but 99% of those games are way,way older.
  • With Console you have the distinct advantage of selling back the game when you are done for anywhere from 15-25 depending on title (withn 3-4 monhts), it just doesn't work that way from the PC market. (Yes some games you want to keep, but for me they are few and far between, and even the ones that I do, I really haven't played again)
  • The graph is inaccurate to a huge degree IMO, it doesn't take these things into account and only assumes full retail value on console gaming, while discount gaming on PC. This graph is pretty useless IMO, because it doesn't provide a fair and accurate comparison for the points I pointed out above.
Thanks for the tip on Greenman gaming, like I said I am a PC gamer, but you are so one sided with your opinions, you are leaving out some important values from consoles.
Tao1 posts on June 27, 2017 11:02
Cos, post: 1194906, member: 14477
This is out of date, and definitely created by a PC person. At the end of the day, each has their advantages, and I don't think it's anywhere as one sided as you make it.

Chart is older, but does not take a lot of things in consideration, and assumes worst case scenario for consoles and does not take into account some of the advantages of the online subscriptions

  • Take a Current game like Destiney 2: It is $59.99 across All platforms, not just console, and that tends to be the trend with new releases
  • This scenario assumes all games are $60.00 on Console and $40.00 on PC
  • When in comes to AAA games, the pricing is typically closer than indicated in the graph
  • It assumes you pay full price for Xbox Live or PS Online services (which has gone up since this post in 2013)
  • I have not paid more than $39.00 per year with a simple internet serach
In the example of Xbox Live or PS+ there are several advantages
  • Xbox Live gives you 2+ Xbox One Titles for free per month and typically a few of the independent games per month on top of 1-2 Xbox 360 games included
  • PS+ also does something similar
  • Both online services will give you discounts on other games because you are a member, as well as movie rental discounts etc.
  • This graph factors in none of those benefits

The assumption of pricing in the graph is correct (at least close) even for AAA games. Generally large retailers like Greenman Gaming will sell PC games at a discount from day 1 or even earlier. Steam doesn't offer these discounts usually, but there are many online retailers who do. I have not paid the full $60 price tag on a new game in years. It is usually $45 (you have to catch a flash sale for $40 or less), but PC games are cheaper than console versions from launch day. 2-3 months after launch, you will generally find a weekend deal or such with the price into the thirties.

Yeah I realize the graph is inaccurate to some degree, but it still illustrates the concept I was trying to show. Consoles are paying for subscriptions to get deals that are inherent in the PC market. GOG and Humble bundle are retailers that often have insane deals which offer older games and some lesser indie titles for very cheap, or giveaways with other purchases.
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