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…
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? 😉