Xbox One and done?

The Xbox One

Naturally we’ve been following the Xbox One news closely on Agoners. Everything announced so far is barely even related to agonistic gamers’ concerns, which is a bad thing in and of itself really. As we’ve commented on before, Microsoft has been moving on a steady track away from everything agoners care about when it comes to gaming for some time now, and I wasn’t surprised to see the Xbox One become a culmination of that at all.

There have been a lot of comedy videos which accurately sum up how I’ve felt about the Xbox One “reveal” so far, and here are the best in case you missed them…


The Xbox One
Hopefully the Xbox Seven will have a better launch…

To me right now all of the interesting things going on in competitive video gaming, and even video gaming in general all seem to be focused on the PC world (with admittedly a small nod to the existing consoles). This is why the ‘Steambox’ – whatever it actually transpires to me, is the only piece of dedicated gaming kit on my purchasing radar right now.

Today, in a mailshot from Xbox Live, I did find one nugget of actual potentially interesting news about the Xbox One though. It’s touting a new matchmaking system – here it is in Microsoft’s words:

Introducing Smart Match, Xbox One’s revolutionary multiplayer matchmaking system. Completely reengineered for a new generation of gaming, Smart Match  uses advanced algorithms to pair players based on skill, language, and now reputation. That means you play people that are most like you. And best of all, you no longer have to wait in lobbies while a match is found. Feel free to play a game, watch TV, or listen to music while we find your perfect match. Then you can jump in instantly. And thanks to the power of the cloud, your favorite matches are always running behind the scenes, so you can quickly find the people you like to play with most.

For the most part this sounds like almost everything they claimed to have done with Xbox Live matchmaking to date anyway! And we’ve seen how well that actually worked out for the majority of titles I was actually interested in (linked article spoiler: Not very well). So I’m incredibly sceptical at this point unless I actually see this working well in practice. I’m especially intrigued as to how they will even attempt to conjure a player’s ‘reputation’, given what a total farce of a rep system currently exists on Xbox Live. Another problem is, with the current state of gaming media & websites, that it will be practically impossible for me to even tell how successful this ‘Smart Match’ system is without buying an Xbox One and trying it for myself; hopefully I’ll be able to try it on an early-adopting friend’s system at some point. Another alarm bell that’s ringing immediately is the talk of language matching and the reference to “lobbies”, which clearly implies they are focusing on large FPS team battle type of online gaming (COD, Halo) & ignoring other types of games, for example 1v1 games. I don’t much care what language my opponent speaks in a match of Yomi, Street Fighter or StarCraft II – but I probably really do care about the ping time.

The one great thing though, and the part I do believe they can successfully implement even given their track record, is what sounds like a system-wide overlay that let’s you do something else while waiting for an online matchmade game. This should hopefully end up working something like Street Fighter IV’s excellent ‘fight request’ feature, but for every game on the whole system… and this is something we’ve been asking for on Agoners since 2008! There’s no real reason why this couldn’t been implemented years ago even on the existing systems, but still, it will hopefully work out well for the Xbox One as long as it’s implemented correctly.

Overall, as sceptical as am, this ‘Smart Match’ system could improve the matchmaking system across the entirety of the consoles games – which amazingly is the one feature I’ve seen out the Xbox One so far that would be worth paying for. So maybe that’s why it’s called the Xbox One? 😉

8 thoughts on “Xbox One and done?

  1. Personally, it’s not about the match making, tv, one box the rule them all, it’s about the community of games that will be available. Sadly it looks like they’ve said good by to Indie’s, small publishers and generally anyone who can’t afford the insanity that is there release pricing. And example of an update charge being around $40k, you can well imagine the release costs.

    Good games don’t just come from massive production spends, established large employers of designers, coders, and sound artists. They also arise from Ted in his kitchen, or a small team in a damp office somewhere.
    By blocking access to the whole gaming ecosystem, you also stop me from handing over my hard earned cash. Yeah the top layer HDMI passthrough functionality is great Microsoft, (Google did also demonstrate this with their Google TV’s), I’d agree +Rik Newman regarding the SteamBox, and if I can pluck up the courage to make the move in sure I’ll be there. In terms of console, PS4 maybe?? Personally I think the golden age of our gaming consoles; NES, SNES, PSone, DreamCast, etc etc, has gone. No longer is it all about the games.


    1. Nice post… I don’t know if that was an intentional but you highlight at the start that for people like you and I it IS about the games, yet finish with the point for the console manufacturers, it’s NOT about the games. Bit of a major disconnect there and it’s why a lot of it leaves me cold these days.

      I really think “PC gaming” (whatever that means, I don’t necessarily mean Windows) is where it’s moving to these days, as it best supports the types of devs you mention & I completely agree with you regarding their importance. It just needs a nice big-screen console like features and Steam pretty much has that covered. With a nice piece of hardware to go with it, a Steambox type unit could really work (I’d buy one immediately as I want an easy way to access TWO gaming PCs in my lounge atm! hehe). So basically it’s that vs PS4 for me right now – the PS4 would REALLY need to impress me though. The Wii U looks like it has some potential too, but I’m only just starting on a normal Wii! Still so much mileage in what I’ve got.

      The only way the Xbone has a chance with me right now is if it really blows the competitive gaming thing out of the park with this Smartmatch system (& other related systems). That would get my interest… & should interest any agon-type gamers 😉 – hence this post :)


      1. Yeah the start and end was intentional and basically direct at Microsoft. I’ll admit it’s great to have a unit that plays movies, TV, and all that stuff as well as real games. However, it shouldn’t be exclusive and damage the industry.

        This is totally why I’ve enjoyed the mobile games market so much. You could spend a lifetime going through all the games on iOS and Android. Some real nice gems out there.

        Steam can have my cash if they make the whole experience easy. Which it looks like they’re going to be doing with ‘Big Screen’ and a single box for your content, with the added bonus of sharing across devices on your account. In regards to PS4, I’m sorry to say I’m also a sucker for innovation. Companies like Sony, Apple, Google, have the reserves to create, invent (buyout) and implement some real cool stuff. So I’m keen to see what Sony reveal next.
        Nothing Microsoft over the past few years has inspired me to give a damn.
        On a note of ease of dev, the PS4’s chosen architecture will likely win the race of the swarm of developers. We shall see.

        Fun, exciting, challenging, fair and memorable competitive gaming is however extremely important, so in conclusion, who ever demonstrates that they’ve come as close to giving me this with their next gen console, will indeed get my hard earned spondula!


        1. I’m still yet to find anything close to a ‘gem’ for my tastes on Android. Admittedly there are a handful of games I know I would play more if I had an iOS device… but really there seems to be so little there for my tastes. I’m just not much into the tiny touch-screen small-screen gaming. I know I’m a bit of an exception but I rarely ever need or want to play games “on the move”. I’ve barely ever used my Nintendo DS since I was given it for example – and that definitely does have some decent games – far better than anything I’ve ever seen on Android or iOS. But I’m a desk, table-top or couch-gamer almost exclusively and so mobile stuff just doesn’t do much for me unless it offers something awesome and unique above games I could get elsewhere.

          I’m not sure if you’re saying you think Sony, Apple or Google innovate a lot or not? With regards to Sony I know that some would disagree they are ever innovative, at least in the gaming industry:

          I do think the PS4 looks like the best specs and architecture though & best approach for indie devs etc, so it’s definitely in the lead out of the ‘true consoles’. But do we still need dedicated consoles anyway?

          To me, none of these systems are really even thinking about competitive gaming, it’s too tiny a piece of the pie anyway to these companies, but as I see it, the openess of PC gaming is the best enabler for good competitive gaming systems right now eg: Yomi & StarCraft II are executed pretty flawlessly in terms of competitive gaming design. But this Smartmatch concept is a nice potential ace up MS’s sleeve, should they execute it right – but I remain cynical of course given their recent track record 😉 Bring back the halcyon days of Halo 2 huh? All is forgiven!


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