By Steve Wright
Microsoft Xbox Australia spokesperson Adam Pollington was able to sit down with us for a couple minutes to chat about the Xbox One, its rumoured always-on status, potential charges for pre-owned games, and Australian-specific queries. As you'd expect, Xbox Australia was only able to provide us with Xbox's official line on some matters, but we asked the questions anyway.
Before we began, Pollington stressed that, "today['s Xbox Reveal] was very much about the future of the platform and what's coming, with a lot more details to come between now and E3."
Diving head-first into the subject of used games and potential pre-owned charges, Pollington said, "what we have announced is that we have designed the Xbox One to enable used games. However, in terms of the details about that specific mechanism, nothing has been confirmed and we have nothing else to confirm at this time. What we can confirm is that yes, it will be possible."
When asked to clarify Microsoft's position on the Xbox One's always-on requirements, especially in rural areas where a rumoured once-a-day activation might not be possible, Pollington acknowledged that Xbox Australia had been receiving that question many times over themselves.
"To be very clear on the matter, you don't need an 'always-on' connection for Xbox One, but you do require a connection to the internet for certain activities," he said. "We've very much designed the console to be an all-in-one entertainment system that's connected to the cloud, and is always ready and can handle updates and the like in the background. But, we've also taken into account that our customers will want to play games and watch Blu-ray movies and live TV if they lose their connection. An always-on connection isn't required but an internet connection at some point will be required."
We then asked if Pollington could outline the internet connection requirements gamers would need to meet to play a single-player video game. "The specifics at this stage, we really can't provide any further detail on. Just that an internet connection will be required, but not all the time."
"We've also fielded a number of questions around bandwidth," Pollington added. "From everything we've seen today, the bandwidth requirements and internet speeds and the like are very comparable to what you require on an Xbox 360 today. The internet in Australia right now is more than adequate to enable functionality on Xbox One."
Pollington also commented on which of the services mentioned in the Xbox Reveal would make it to Australia, and who Microsoft would be partnering with if required. "The goal is to roll out those services in all markets where Xbox One will launch. Timelines for specific regions haven't been passed on as yet, but the expectation is that all those services will be avialable," he said.
"Particularly, we've received a lot of interest around the HDMI In functionality, and that really is enabling integration of television into the Xbox One console. We've very aware that each market has nuances in how TV is received, whether that's through the internet, cable or satellite or free-to-air over-the-air, but all of those things have been taken into consideration so that when we deliver to market it's a premium experience, no matter where you are."
Pollington was not able to confirm release dates, pricing details or a timeline on when those details would be released, but he did advise to "stay tuned."
I took the chance to point out that there had been quite a bit of chatter over social networks saying the Xbox One has the aesthetics of a used VCR, to which Pollington said, "with any design, some people will hate it and some people may not. It's very much a design that we believe fits in nicely with the home entertainment system of today. It's designed to be an all-in-one games, TV and entertainment unit and we want it to look pretty under the TV in the living room. You can also look at the approach that we've taken with other Microsoft products; Windows 8 and the Windows Phone tiles and the like take have taken that 16:9 aspect; that horizontal approach has been reflected across onto the Xbox One console. More and more, we're seeing interfaces and designs becoming comparible across Microsoft's product ranges."
When asked if Xbox Australia had anything specific to add for gamers in this country, Pollington said, "We don't have any specific Australian announcements to make, but one thing that I do think is particularly exciting for customers of the Xbox One in general, and also to Australians, is the power of the cloud. We touched on it briefly in our press conference, and I think it's a really important point and a key differenciator for Xbox One. Essentially, no longer are we constrained to the processing power of Xbox One in terms of hardware; we're able to do a lot of processing that was traditionally done on the box, in the cloud.
"It's also been stated that the Xbox One is ten times more powerful than the Xbox 360, so we're effectively 40 times greater than the Xbox 360 in terms of processing capabilities [using the cloud]. If you look to the cloud as something that is no doubt going to evolve and grow over time, it really spells out that there's no limit to where the processing power of Xbox One can go. I think that's a very exciting proposition, not only for Australians, but anyone else who's going to pick up the Xbox One console."