30 December 2013 by Jay Heal
On a cold and wet Saturday in November I felt like a young teen again. Not since I unwrapped The Street Fighter 2 addition of the Super Nintendo all those Christmas Days ago had I been so excited to get a gaming console plugged in. For months there had been speculation who would be able to get one in the months leading up to Christmas from a much anticipated launch. Even though I had mine pre-ordered, there was no guarantee I would get it before Christmas 2013. So to get mine the day after the UK release I think I had good reason to feel a little smug. But then, a few hours later, there was that deflated feeling of what could’ve been so awesome which was in fact so much the same old.
It wasn’t because the new machine doesn’t look great, because it looks fantastic. The price, even for a whopping £370 is reasonable value when you consider the cost of the Xbox One. It was just simply I was expecting more I suppose. Yes the graphics are better and the camera has added a new dimension with my wife playing Just Dance. But the end of the day, it is still a console I put a disc in and play either by myself or online. The interface itself seems only to be a slight improvement on the previous, but compared to other non-gaming interfaces there is not much that is pushing the boundaries.
With so much talk around a ‘social element’ I was expecting to enter a new dimension in online play and entertainment. An example of this is the rather weak social stream that shows me what other friends have been playing. This is all well and good, but it gives me no context. Why can I not see what map on Call Of Duty Ghosts my brother is playing from is exotic home in eastern Thailand, see that his team are getting thumped and I join in to help save the day. If there are no spaces within his current team, why not notify me of this before attempting to join and then alert me when there is a space???!!!!
I suppose working in UX would always mean I would have a different point of view than most gamers. Don’t get me wrong, it is still early days and we are only beginning to realise the potential of all this new power. Maybe I was just expecting more from launch where there were other things offer than faster loading and better graphics. Nintendo and, even more recently, Microsoft with the Kinnect camera have revolutionised the way we have been gaming with every new release. It’s been seven years since the PS3, surely more could of been done to push boundaries.