One year ago today, Microsoft launched the Xbox One in 13 markets around the world, including the US. While we thought that Microsoft's third game console was an excellent gaming machine as well as good video playing device in our extensive review back in December, the truth is that the Xbox One is a much better product 365 days later.
In fact, a case could be made that Microsoft has worked much harder to make the Xbox One a better buy than Sony has done with the PlayStation 4, which launched a week before Microsoft's machine. In this article we offer five reasons why the Xbox One is better than it was a year after its launch.
The price is lower
This is the most obvious reason, but it's a pretty important one. Microsoft started selling the Xbox One with the Kinect sensor for $499 in the US. That's on the high end in terms of launch prices for previous consoles, and $100 more than the price of the PlayStation 4.
Since the launch, Microsoft has been pretty aggressive in offering the Xbox One as a better value than the PlayStation 4, especially since its sales started to go down after the holiday shopping season of 2013. It started with a bundle that included the game Titanfall for the same price. Later, it started selling a version of the console without the Kinect add-on for just $399. While some people were disappointed that Microsoft had abandoned their strategy of offering the Kinect for every Xbox One, the truth is that most game developers were not using the hardware anyway, so it made solid business sense to give consumers an option to get the console without the Kinect sensor.
More recently Microsoft has offered a bunch of bundle deals for the Xbox One, including a white version with Sunset Overdrive and one with a 1 TB hard drive and a free copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The last big marketing push is a temporary $50 price cut on all Xbox One consoles, including the bundles, until January 3, 2015. While it's possible Microsoft will go ahead and keep selling the console at their current lower prices afterwards, we wouldn't bet on it, so now might be a good time to get the Xbox One for yourself.
Microsoft has released a ton of firmware updates since launch
If you bought an Xbox One on November 22, 2013, you know that you have seen an unprecedented amount of software updates for the console since then. Microsoft has been working hard to add features to the Xbox One that were not available a year ago.
Microsoft recently listed what's been added to the Xbox One since its launch, and it's pretty extensive. Some of the highlights include a new Friends section, a new Achievements app, being able to purchase digital Xbox One games from your smartphone or PC, and a new media player. All of this shows that Microsoft is committed to making the Xbox One a better console and those updates will continue in 2015 (screenshot support has already been promised).
The Xbox Live Gold subscription is a better value
A year ago, the value of an Xbox One Gold subscription was, well, poor. Yes, you had to get it in order to play online multiplayer games, but it was also needed to access the many streaming media apps for the console, including Netflix, Hulu and more. Many people wondered why Microsoft was adding another subscription price for accessing apps that were available on other consoles without that extra price.
Thankfully, Microsoft saw the light and eliminated the Xbox Live Gold requirement for watching those apps in June. Even better, signing up for the service gave Xbox One owners at least one free downloadable game each month starting in June, which certainly makes the subscription worth it in the long run.
Xbox One has a bigger variety of apps
Speaking of those streaming media apps, there are a lot more to check out on the Xbox One since it came out a year ago. Apps like Plex, Comedy Central and most recently HBO Go have been added since the launch. Other apps that were part of the launch have since been updates, such as Twitch, which can now let owners stream their gameplay experiences live to anyone on the Internet.
Heck, you can even order non-gaming items via the Xbox One, such as the GoPro app and the recently launched Domino's Pizza app (just in the UK for now). All in all, there's a ton of things to do on the Xbox One for both the gamer and non-gamer.
The games are much better now
While there were a couple of solid Xbox One launch games, such as Dead Rising 3 and Forza Motorsport 5, nothing really stood out. That's all changed now. Microsoft has a library of titles for the console that, in our humble opinion, beat the PlayStation 4 in terms of variety and quality.
It actually began earlier this year with the release of Titanfall, but the Xbox One's library of titles, both first and third-party, has improved greatly in the last few months. From Forza Horizon 2 to Sunset Overdrive to Project Spark to Halo The Master Chief Collection, the Xbox One first party lineup is pretty impressive, and that's backed up by great indie games from the ID@Xbox division like Strike Suit Zero, Super Time Force, and many more. The third-party lineup is excellent as well, with recent releases like Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and more.
Let's not forget the cool EA Access service which is exclusive to the Xbox One. It launched a few months ago and lets users play from an ever growing list of full Electronic Arts games for one low monthly fee.
As good as the Xbox One game lineup is right now, it will likely be even better at this time in 2015. In a recent podcast interview, Xbox division leader Phil Spencer indicated that there are so many great games coming for the console in the fourth quarter of 2015 that Microsoft will likely have to move some of them to early 2016 so the marketplace isn't flooded with content. That's an excellent problem to have, however and it bodes well for the console's prospects for the future.
Let us know what you think
These are just my opinions. Do you agree? Or do you think the Xbox One isn't doing as well as it should be, and why? Please let us know in the comments.