This Week in Bad Pop Culture Ideas: The Xbox One X

Official still for Xbox One X premiere trailer; image courtesy of Xbox.
Official still for Xbox One X premiere trailer; image courtesy of Xbox. /

Microsoft confirmed the Xbox One X will be its sort-of new console at E3, but sort-of new seems like it sort of might not do enough.

For those of you not steeped in the gaming world, this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo — E3 — is currently going on in Los Angeles, and yesterday, Microsoft had its conference. At said conference, it announced the Xbox One X, once known as Project Scorpio.

Now, my colleague expressed that it “feels like an extension to the Xbox One.” Never mind that it has lots of fancy new architecture under the hood, which had plenty of attention during the briefing. (“7 billion pixels!” sticks out in my mind. Tell us which number stuck in your head.)

Here’s the event in full if you missed it or want to see it all for yourself:

Yes, the draw here is the graphical capability of the Xbox One X. It’s a 4K system, and it’ll upscale your games on your boring old 1080p TV just in case you haven’t gone with the way of the future yet. Or at least, that was kind of the impression we got from the tone being used.

Yours truly probably wasn’t going to drop $499 on a new console anytime soon; $359 for the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a couple months ago was bad enough, because not buying Zelda with a Switch is a questionable decision at best. But it’s even harder to justify dropping that kind of money when it’s just “souped-up Xbox.”

“But it’s backwards compatible!” you might say.

Which, granted, it’s a nice touch. Credit where credit is due, there.

“But the games!”

PCWorld: “22 Xbox and Windows 10 exclusives”, emphasis mine. Forbes dubbed it an “exclusivity problem.” In other words: does it matter?

In that same Forbes article, Paul Tassi writes that the graphical capability is really what the Xbox One X has going for it, and the visuals are, for the most part, fantastic-looking. (I’ll admit I thought Forza 7 looked like it was made out of plastic. There’s such a thing as too perfect, and the Xbox One X might have actually found it, even if the cars in Forza had some artfully-placed scratches on them that you could also see because of such high resolution.)

But at some point, a console has to have something going for it besides having the biggest and baddest graphics. Tassi admits that he can see some problems with that being the largest appeal. We agree with that.

Here’s the other problem we have. Xbox One X is not a really good name. It is, in fact, one of the worst console names in recent memory. (There’s a point where yours truly disagrees with Tassi, who dubs it a “bit of a mouthful.” I just want to know what we’re multiplying by one, and math is not my strongest suit.)

Do you know what it reminds me of? The Wii U. The Wii U was actually a new console, with a new control method. But it was trading on an already familiar name to the point where it became confusing for people. That probably wasn’t the only problem that the Wii U had, but this isn’t about Nintendo. It’s about Microsoft.

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As we get closer to Nov. 7, when the console arrives, we might learn something more that might coax more players back to the Microsoft side of things, a weakness Tassi and I agree on. But right now, color me “meh.”