For any parents watching Microsoft’s Xbox One press event at E3 today, there was a lot to be concerned about. Not just about the console itself, which promises to usher in a new era of socially connected home and entertainment, or even the price, which is an increase across the board, but in the continued focus by Microsoft on the ultra-violent games that will be the flagship titles for the new console.
Pricing and Availability
With the announcement that the Xbox One (which will replace the current Xbox 360) is coming in less than 6 months, parents need to steel themselves now against what will surely be a barrage of demands from their kids about what exactly will be appearing under the tree this holiday season. For one, the price is a hefty increase over the previous generation. While the Xbox 360 launched 8 years ago at $399, the new Xbox One will cost 25% more at $499. And with the huge new graphics capability of the system requiring far more artists and designers working per-game to make these next gen titles, expect the prices of games to go up as well, probably from the current standard of about $60 to $70.
The Evolution of Xbox
The Xbox 360 launched to much fanfare, and over the years has gone on to revolutionize how people interact with their televisions. While a gaming system first and foremost, the Xbox 360 evolved through software updates into a powerful media center. It’s a huge hub for Netflix, Hulu, and other online streaming activity and the Xbox One looks poised to take that to the next level. Xbox Live Gold subscribers will even be able to integrate their console with the popular Twitch.tv service and stream themselves playing games, live, to anyone and everyone online. While adults may be excited about what sorts of new experiences this will brings, parents will need to be as vigilant as ever when it comes to what their kids can do online, and what sorts of new strangers and experiences Xbox Live will connect them to. The number of friends a kid can have on Xbox Live has increased from 100 to essentially unlimited, which is worth parents’ concern as well. We’re still waiting to find out what, if any, parental control features will be available for parents to protect their little gamers from dangerous online encounters via Xbox One.
Is Your old Xbox Trash Now?
Parents with children of all ages also need to keep in mind that just because the Xbox One is about to be released, that doesn’t mean their current Xbox 360 is headed for the dumpster any time soon. In fact, Microsoft just unveiled a new design for the Xbox 360, indicating that they expect to keep selling them for a while, and they also announced at E3 today that more than 100 new games are still coming to the console this year.
Concerning the Games
But what about those games? Bucking the trend of family- and female-friendly games we’ve seen take the mobile world by storm (think Angry Birds and Letterpress), the Xbox is decidedly aimed at what is called the “hardcore” gaming community—aka the same teenage boys and young adult men who apparently love nothing more than to sit down in front of the TV so they can kill kill kill. Nearly every game showed off by Microsoft today featured heavy doses of violence, from the opening videos of the new Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to a revived Killer Instinct franchise. Whether you’re killing soldiers in the new World of Tanks for Xbox 360, slaughtering the enemies of the empire in RYSE: Son of Rome, or decapitating zombies in Dead Rising 3, one thing is for sure: the next generation of Xbox, games will be much like the last, except this time with even more HD blood and gore.
While a few games for all ages were highlighted, they were touched on only briefly. Yes, there’s a new Minecraft coming out for the Xbox One, and an exciting new independent game called Below was highlighted as well. But by and large, the big guns and even bigger tanks were brought out, with the presentation closing first with a sneak peak at Battlefield 4, followed by a new mech-shooter called TITANFALL.
Proceed With Caution
So parents of young children especially need to be cautious. With Microsoft introducing Ads to the homescreen of the Xbox 360 last year, and with the Xbox One sure to carry on the tradition, even vigilant parents may not be able to keep their kids from watching trailers, trying demos, and otherwise discovering the darker and more mature side of games that Microsoft will be banking on selling in huge numbers for their new console.
The End of Microsoft Points
One thing parents will really appreciate, however, is Microsoft’s smart decision to switch from their previous Microsoft Points system to real dollars for all content purchased through the console. After all, what parent is expected to remember how much a game that costs 420 points is really worth? Your child asking for $5 is much more sensible.
E3 continues all week long, and there’s sure to be more worth paying attention to. Stay tuned to this blog for all the latest developments.