It is fairly to safe to say that, at this time of unrelease, both Sony's and Microsoft's announcement of their next generation of console are a bit, well, underwhelming. While both have flashed and sparkled with buzzwords that wouldn't have been out of place in a college media course in 2007, there has been a distinct lack of emphasis on one thing: how we gamers interact with software.
So it comes with little shock and fanfare that the Xbox One has had a somewhat muted response. A twitter free-for-all of snide nudges and winks, each user elbowing the wider world with an all knowing and sarcastic "well that's impressive isn't it?"
It seems as though the hardware departments of both Sony and Microsoft have almost forgotten what they actually do, or instead taken great efforts to transport their remit to that of a wider market. The key theme here is integration and convergence.
With the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you will be able to go on Facebook, watch Netflix, chat on Skype - wait a minute, can't we already do the majority of this?
The problem with heading down the entertainment route, is the false assumption that there is an audience not yet turned on to games consoles, that will take up their wallets and head to the nearest shops because Netflix and Skype can be used. Microsoft and Sony are trying to change the attitudes of one intended audience, whilst almost ignoring their existing market.
I have never felt such boredom or lack of excitement over a new generation of console. The graphics look marginally better, but without the explosion of 2D to 3D or SD to HD, it's all a bit pedestrian. I happily sit with my tablet on my knee whilst enjoying my PlayStation 3, is it really worth an extra $400 for something that is that bit smoother and has a "share" button on the joypad?
How ironic then, is it that the Wii U now looks the innovative console? The one that actually purports to offer a new experience, whilst allowing you to play your old titles - free of charge - and using the existing products you bought with it? Nintendo's console has been a failure up until this point, but in reality, the designers from Japan are actually selling different experiences - something that can't be said of Sony and Microsoft.
When you thumb with your tablet and hold it to your face looking through a pair of binoculars, regardless of the gimmick, it is more immersive than that of your standard joypad. Of course the Xbox One offers voice commands, but until it is seen I doubt that anyone truly believes: especially with my mangled accent.
The problem here is the focus on trying to be all things to all people, but forgetting your identity. Since the dawn of videogames, the focus has been on how we interact with software. Whether this was through breakthroughs in control, or instead innovations in aesthetics: and yet for me, this next console, barring Nintendo's offering, completely disregards this.
I remember the wonderment of moving from Sega Genesis pad to Nintendo 64, and again mastering the Xbox controller before moving on to the Wii remote. It took time, and it changed how I had ever played games, with new options buttons, and motions. With these two new consoles? Revert back to autopilot and play the same Call of Duty, Halo, and Killzone titles with shinier lighting effects.
Ultimately, and for what I can see now, I'm getting a less interesting version of my PC, with a Smart TV attached, and some voice commands thrown in to boot that wants to share my every movement on Facebook.
They call it innovation and progress, I call it a midlife crisis from the videogame industry.