Xbox One launches worldwide: The highs and the lows

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In an eerily similar pattern to last week’s US PS4 launch, Microsoft unleashed their powerhouse console – the Xbox One – upon the world yesterday. With the launch came the pre-requisite highs and lows of new technology. Though what you may have been reading or hearing about will undoubtedly be the issues and problems some customers ran into – what we’ve actually seen here are two amazing launches of cutting-edge hardware.

Again, we thought we’d bring some perspective by dragging some of the bigger stories (the high points and low points) into one easily digestible article. However, with the Xbox One now available in the UK – we’ll also be bringing you more comprehensive coverage and reviews in the coming days!

THE HIGHS:

It became clear in the moments before launch that the Xbox One marketing team had done an outstanding job of clawing back customers. It’s easy to poke fun at their rapid turnaround regarding always online and used game policies, but actually they have been working hard to showcase a console you want in your home and push the futuristic control Kinect allows. Seemingly out of nowhere, analysts were putting the Xbox One at only 10% behind Sony in the pre-order numbers.

Most people in the business seem to feel that by March 2014 there will be virtually no gap between the sales of the consoles – and let’s face it, it’s sales that count. Not pre-orders. With over a million consoles sold in the first 24 hours, the Xbox One is keeping pace with Sony so far!

Lots of bundles available - including this one with Forza 5!
Lots of bundles available – including this one with Forza 5!

On top of that, the arguably stronger line up of launch games (though neither is particularly strong) is helping shift plenty of games along with those machines. Call of Duty: Ghosts wasunsurprisingly- attached to many a console sale – but then we knew that the Xbox fanbase is FPS mad already! Dead Rising 3 (an Xbox exclusive) is also finding its way into many homes. Killing zombies in increasingly creative ways will NEVER go out of style. Popular racing simulator Forza 5 has been well received and has seen good sales to reflect that critical success.

Also, the sudden Microsoft / Sony love in continued on Twitter! This time it was the Sony executives heaping praise and congratulations on the Xbox One launch!? We’re not sure what to make of this continuing show of class. On the one hand, it makes a refreshing change to the ‘at each other’s throats’ approach of the rampant fanboyism. But somehow, I’m just not buying it. Sony were too quick to pounce on Microsoft when they were down. And Microsoft’s dalliance with keeping things humble only came about when it was clear people thought their console announcement sucked.

MAYBE they’ve both grown up? But I’m expecting lines to be drawn in the sand once more before long.

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THE LOWS:

Not that anyone really needed confirmation, but the Xbox One launch woes really add a lot of weight to Sony’s claims last week that ‘every new console launch has its issues.’ Here we are, another week, another launch and another slew of problems reported by the ‘insignificant’ minority of early adopters.

Well publicised everywhere from games press to YouTube, some Xbox Ones are not working. Faulty Blu-Ray drives, scuffed and scratched consoles and an inability to connect to the internet (which is required to stop your machine being a £500 paper weight) are just a few of the problems being reported. YouTube is slowly filling up with home videos of Xbox Ones making terrifying scraping, grinding sounds and spitting out discs like a grumpy baby spits out dinner.

Check out the overly dramatic compilation of disappointed customers below!

Again, the official line is that every console launch comes with these difficulties – and though customers may be disappointed, it’s to be expected. Those gamers experiencing zero problems are too busy gaming and talking to their Xbox to defend the machine right now. Unfortunately, there have also been a number of complaints about Microsoft customer service being less than helpful (and more cases, that they are less than available).

There is also the fact (just as with PS4) that a lot of the early promise of these launch games has fallen short of expectations. Games like Ryse: Son of Rome have shown a lot of excellent trailers, but ultimately disappointed when it’s come to release, making an already lackluster selection of launch titles seem a little worse overall.

THE REST:

Some units were sold with marks and scratches.
Some units were sold with marks and scratches.

A little addendum to this is the actual response to both consoles. The press at large have said that the machines are awesome, but currently show more in terms of potential than actual prowess. The proof of ‘which is the superior machine’ will come down to time and games. What’s interesting is that they are clearly going for slightly different markets. More interesting still is that each looks to be going after the other’s market (Sony ditching the ‘media hub’ to focus on gamers, Microsoft wanting to be at ‘the center of your living room’).

So far, both have been judged primarily as games consoles and are fairly evenly matched. Over time, as all services become available, we could be looking at a much bigger gulf between the two, but what the consumers will actually want is anyone’s guess right now.

Microsoft are yet to provide figures of the failure rate of Xbox Ones, but if the PS4’s <1% rate is anything to judge by, both consoles are actually doing incredibly well. The failure rate of your average new piece of tech is around 5% (some products, like the iPhone 5 make the press for achieving a high of 15% failure at launch), so being as low as 1% is fantastic. However, what you can’t forget is that with sales of BOTH machines topping a million, that 1% is STILL a whopping disappointed 10 000 customers!

On the subject of sales, you may hear people saying that PS4 has shifted a million consoles in just one territory, whereas Microsoft sold a million, but across 13 territories – including the US. This will be used to show dominance by PS4, but this is a misleading viewpoint. What we WILL see is both consoles selling out in every available territory between now and Christmas. We may think that the battle of the consoles will be won and lost by sales. In time yes, but right now this battle is in the hands of the manufacturers!

Expect high sales and more news of broken consoles in the next couple of months!

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