Kicking off the E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles today, Microsoft finally revealed when consumers can expect to buy the company’s new cloud-connected, social-enabled video game console, the Xbox One.
Games were the focus of Microsoft’s June 10 media event. After previewing several exclusive Xbox One titles, which are set to be released this year and during 2014, Microsoft Game Studios Vice President Phil Spencer took to the stage to announce the Xbox One release window.
Spencer prefaced the announcement by recalling the May 21 Xbox One reveal at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash. “Three weeks ago, we shared our vision for Xbox One. We unveiled an ambitious system built for a modern, connected living room,” he said. He went on to disclose that the “Xbox One will launch this November in 21 markets around the world.”
In the U.S., the Xbox One, which comes bundled with an updated Kinect motion controller, will cost $499. In Europe, it will be priced at 499 euros, while buyers in the U.K. can expect to spend 429 pounds.
Last month, the company took the wraps off the boxy new Xbox One at a press event that was conspicuously light on games. Instead, Microsoft largely focused on the device’s social features, voice control, Skype integration, and TV viewing and media discovery features. Xbox head Don Mattrick described the Xbox One as the “ultimate, all-in-one home entertainment system.”
Today, the pendulum swung back to gamers.
New perks include Xbox Live Gold account sharing for households with more than one user. Microsoft is also switching to a payments system based on real-world currencies, effectively spelling the end of Microsoft Points.
Gamers can expect more Smart Glass integration. Several demonstrations showed how users can leverage their mobile devices to affect gameplay and share their accomplishments. Features like Game DVR and Twitch live streaming can be used to add a YouTube-like social experience to video replays and multiplayer game matches.
Microsoft is also banking on some big-name video game properties—enhanced by next-gen graphics and an AMD-powered architecture that can pump out full high definition at 60 frames per second—to entice consumers.
Several long-running franchises will make their return, including Halo, Forza Motorsport, Metal Gear Solid and Activision’s Battlefield series. Other sequels include Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct, The Witcher 3 and Minecraft: Xbox One Edition.
While name recognition may drive sales, Microsoft and its partners are betting on new franchises to spark interest in the new hardware. These include and Ryse: Son of Rome, Quantum Break, and Sunset Overdrive and Below, the latest effort from the makers of the moody mobile hit, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery.
Despite the sheer volume of announcements and reveals, the Xbox One picture still remains a bit muddied. The Xbox One is currently beset by concerns over digital rights management (DRM), if any; how the system handles used games; and whether the device can offer compelling experiences if owners want to engage in offline activities or lack reliable broadband connectivity.