Microsoft unveils the next Xbox: Xbox One - What they said and what it means!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Yes, Christina and I will be working on another Xbox book!While we had a previous poll and some thoughts and speculation on the next Xbox here at Armchair Arcade (among many other thoughts from staff and other commenters), it's now time to discuss the reality from today's #XboxReveal, with Microsoft the last of the three to play its next generation hand. As you no doubt already know, Nintendo's Wii U is struggling mightily, while Sony's PS4 has a lot of positive buzz so far and will be released around the same time as the new Xbox (Xbox One). With all that said, let's take a look at what was just unveiled.

Microsoft Xbox OneMicrosoft Xbox One- They're calling it the Xbox One. This name was on no one's radar that I was aware of. They're definitely taking a page from smartphones, tablets, and Nintendo's playbooks with a name like that. It's not necessarily awful. It's one of those "safe" names, though, and not exactly inspirational. It's clear they think they have gamers in the bag with a name like that. That name is for the non-gamers out there.

- A next generation Kinect comes with it.

- Both the console and new Kinect are very boxy, which is clearly a conscious design decision to fit in with the flat modern interface UI of Windows Phone and Windows 8 (and now this system). At the same time, they're also quite shiny (black), so it's an interesting look.

- The Xbox One is designed to pass through and integrate with your TV experience seamlessly.

- The Xbox One interface is very much like Windows Phone and Windows 8. This should work well for a TV, big screen experience.

- Say, "Xbox on" and the Xbox One immediately takes over your TV. That's the "always on" angle that was causing many people angst.

- The Xbox One has instant switching between TV, game, music, Internet, etc. Very fast!

- It has a Windows 8-style window snap mode, so you can put something on the side while doing something else. For instance, watch a movie, then snap a browser window to the side. Multitasking is front and center.

- Skype HD is built-in. With the always on integration, this could really make video calling faster and easier than ever.

- You can say, "Xbox, ESPN," for instance, and it will go immediately to that channel. Presumably this is using some type of IR blaster to control your cable box, though it's possible there may be some deeper integration. Certain channels or events will have deeper integration, for instance, with sports, you might be able to pull up live stats.

- The Xbox One Guide provides rich access to current TV listings. Again, when showing this, they're showing how quickly everything switches. As users of the Wii U know, any type of lag can be a killer, so if this is how quickly it works in reality, it's a killer feature.

- It's supposed to be virtually silent when running. We'll see, but this is obviously important for something always on.

- The new Kinect's voice features are now more conversational and supports multiple family members.

- The new Kinect's tracking appears nearly one-to-one, which is a big step up from the original Kinect.

- One of the Xbox 360's killer features was its excellent controller. It looks like this winning design was iterated on and improved, but not changed dramatically for the Xbox One. That's probably a good thing. So the three main control methods are controller, Kinect, and smartglass (the second screen stuff for smartphones and tablets that few people use). Kinect is supposed to recognize when you (specifically you) pick up the controller and resumes your specific saved game, as an example. Nice. The more seamless moving between the control schemes, the better.

- Xbox LIVE has the same membership structure. All content is stored in the cloud, including your games, making them available from anywhere. We'll see what that means in reality, as there may be some type of PS4-level real-time streaming going on.

- Bluray is there. USB 3.0. 500GB hard drive. Etc. All the usual next gen hardware bullet points (at least in terms of Sony's PS4).

- EA recently lost interest in the Wii U. Not surprisingly, EA had a big presence at Microsoft's event. EA was making a big deal about a new type of technological core for their games, which may have played into deciding not to support the Wii U. This stuff might simply require PS4/Xbox One/PC-level power and it may not make sense to do separate products for the Wii U considering its present sales pace.

- There appears to be some type of instant social sharing like Sony's PS4 will have.

- Microsoft is pushing transmedia for Halo (their one major property). Halo will be a television series, but there is a hint that the integration will go a big deeper.

- As a demonstration of the Xbox One's integration, they were showing a live NFL broadcast running alongside a fantasy football app, while also running a video chat between friends. If it gets used, it will be a fun social experience. That's a big if, though.

Now some will criticize that they didn't show enough games (though there was a major Call of Duty announcement), but that's what E3 next month is for, plus, it's the quality of these other, non-game features that will arguably make or break the system long-term. We already know it will feature and play certain types of games and that the system has a certain amount of power. It's what's done with that power (and, as the Wii U proves, what comes out consistently post launch) that will ultimately matter. In any case, the event was short, but overall pretty sweet. It's now up to E3 for us to see all the other stuff, like launch date (beyond later this year), pricing, major games (they're promising "exclusives", etc.). We just have a few more weeks to wait.

What are your thoughts?

(Check out some additional features, updates, and links to more photos here, here, and here)

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Bill Loguidice
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A good write-up describing

A good write-up describing some of the potential reasons to get excited about the Xbox One's controller and Kinect. http://ars.to/18gx7md

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Mark Vergeer
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Game discs basically become DRMed DLC in disguise

I do use Steam and actually have two games on it - out of probably a little too many - that won't run despite the fact that my system is more than capable of running the games and despite my efforts to get support. I am directed from one Helpdesk to the other and "you must be doing something wrong" is what it ended up with so I gave up on those games. Paid full price for those titles and I have no way of returning them. So I will be very cautious with any new Steam-lease that I want to playin the future. Those games aren't mine. I kinda 'lease' the chance to actually end up playing them.

I did download a ton of Xbox live arcade games back in the day, over 140 of them. Enjoyed the heck out of them until my Xbox broke and I had to transfer my license over to the new machine in order for the games to continue to work as full games without the machine being connected to the Internet. That really got me thinking about this business model and how much money I have poured into it and how little I will be able to enjoy it in the future compared to older game systems, films and books.

The sole reason for enforcing all the restrictions and checks on the media/content is $ and content management and not to enhance or better the customer experience. When the DRM fails the content becomes worthless, the customer is at fault and there's no way you can get your money back other than pay for it again. So with a lot of the company executives suffering from one form of Hubris or another treating customers like dumb cattle all they want is for you to pull your wallet and fork up even more doe. So $ony or Micro$oft both are pulling that stunt.

Why am I using those $? Because both companies are serving other part of the world with an even more mediocre experience with less content available and still expect us to pay the same. It is bad enough to get ads on the dash for Indie games and still not being able to actually get them. It's bad enough to receive emails to my .nl email accounts offering me things in Dutch only to give back to me that 'this is not available in your country'. So it is a lot of things combined that are severely ircking me here.

Dangling that sausage or red carrot in front of me and then saying you can't have it but still expecting me to pay.

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Mark Vergeer
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Kinekt and the controller

I do get excited by the kinekt and the controller bit and the innovation but the whole media management / restriction thing I can live without. It will be cool looking back on this in a couple of years only to discover that a large portion of our media our culture had been locked away behind a thick wall of DRM and only accessible to the happy few or not at all because it is not economically viable to make it available.

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clok1966
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I don't think the "always on"

I don't think the "always on" is just the simple "say xbox and it turns on" thing.. its far deeper then that.. and much closer to the DRM always on or you cant play angle that MS keeps skirting and not saying "no its not" too. MS has spun the "always on" into a million things, but still has not been CRYSTAL CLEAR on it.. which 99% of the time means it just what we fear, but they are keeping it behind the drapes for now to limit the backlash..

as so many say, it might be nothing, its very possible.. but again I doubt it.

A painting, a Book, a CD, a DVD, tell me which of these has less or more value then a GAME? please don't say its different market.. they are intellectual properties that can be resold for whatever price the ORIGINAL purchaser deems fit. Im sorry most works of art are worth more then a any game culturally or monetarily.. yet MS things games demand some special "give us our money each time a person uses it" and keep in mind this is MS, not devs.. I would guess (but its not clear in any way , shape or form) the devs will get some part of it.. but .. again.. who knows. EVEN if this keeps the money going .. the guys who made the games (much like records) are going ti get pennies extra.. MS, the publishiers are going to make more money .. the devs.. a few cents.. JUST LIKE MP3 sales.. the guys who make the music care so little if you pirate.. they make money, sure.. but the corrupt system the publishes and record companies make all the bucks.. they are not covering the people "who make the stuff" they are covering there own ass.. In the end.. i bet no dev will see more then a few thousand $$ more.. but MS and the publishers will see big bucks if its like it sounds.

I have no problem with fair use.. no free games.. joe #1 paid $60 for the game and then sold it to me for $30... again.. car companies would sure love to make every car 1 owner too, I paid $60,000 for my new caddy, now i want to sell it for 20,000, but i cant, not unless Cadillac gets 20,000 too, they built it after all, if i sell it used they cant sell that person a new one..Cloths makers.. Heck, people who build houses.. NO you cant move in unless you pay us again for building it? What kind of logic is that? we live in a a capitalist country.. YES, they can sure do it if we accept it.. that's how it works.. thats why gas goes up 50 cents in a day.. we let it.. if nobody bought gas the price goes down.. if nobody accepted it, it wouldn't happen..But we need gas.. we sure don't need games.. that why its so important to not accept this..

i simply wont "HELP" them bring this new idea to market.. I wont support it. I wont allow them to use PR spin to say its some kind of protection from theft. I WOULD support DRM to keep pirates from stealing, i have no problem with verifying its a legit copy, not a "pirate" version.. but as most DRM it punishes the legit people. this seems like chopping the head of the paying customer to stop the stealing one..

used games have been a part of gaming for as long as i know.. this is simply a case of MS (and whoever follows) seeing gamestop charge way to much and going "damn wish i had thought of that" pure "me too" attitude.. Used games where not a concern for anybody until gamestop started making HUGE $$$ out of um. Sorry crying foul because there is money to made is pure BS... Same with EA and STEAM.. EA had DIGITAL store, it didn't promote it, didn't have good deals (almost all games could be bought at a store for cheaper), it sucked and EA didn't care.. STEAM comes along and turns into a huge success.. EA cries foul and wants in.. again, didnt give a crap till HUGE $$$ where made.. the ONLY REASON EA AND MS are doing what they are, they have some muscle.. and no matter how loud the little guy like me cries.. 10 others will just "buy it and eat the poo they are shoveling" and say it tastes good, its a good kind of poo! sorry there is no good kind of poo (for eating).. dont matter how much suger and color they add, its still just poo..

I hate to say.. it dont matter how bad or how good it is.. If MS and SONY both do it.. we are fooked.. the good news is.. while sony hasn't said for sure.. at least 2 guys at the top of the company have said the new PS4 will play used games with no penalty.. but both said it with "but its not final".

I know its just a game system and I use STEAM which is very much like this.. every day.. why shouldn't i accept the consoles following steam? Because I still have a choice.. I DO NOT HAVE TO USE STEAM, i can still buy almost every single game (digital or hard copy) from a store, website, whatever.. withe the consoles this option is 100% gone.. no choice.. them or nothing..

sorry I wont drink the kool aid no matter how good it tastes.. I gotta think long run, not just today. I accept it today.. again, why cant car companies follow suit? (not to worried about cars.. but there are a ton of things that would love to adapt this business model, no downside for them at all, just us consumers)

gilgamesh
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One new and exciting way to use Kinect

MS applied for a patent on a new and exciting way to use Kinect: DISTRIBUTION REGULATION BY VIEWING USER
Groucho Marx style noseglasses might become fashionable again in the next months. Or people hiding behind the living room's curtains.

Seriously, I wouldn't take one if it came for free.

Bill Loguidice
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Patent is not the same as doing it

It's just a patent. It's not something that is practically applicable with current technology. Companies patent all kinds of crazy things. Rarely do they actually get used.

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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That's true, but...

The Kinect 2 is designed specifically to identify multiple people in the room. They have talked about how the kinect 2 will identify you and anyone else in the room, and if they have associated accounts on the xbox they will log them in. Assuming that they have no plans to utilize this with the new XBox is putting faith in Microsoft. A Microsoft that has locked down games on their new console so that you cannot let a friend borrow them. You cannot rent a game because of the activation, and the fact that it needs to be online at least once a day. Add to that the machine never truly turns off unless you disconnect the power cord. They have stated that the Kinect will always be on, either listening or watching. This smacks to me of the monitoring technology used throughout the book 1984. The only difference is that this is optional. The MPAA has said multiple times that they would like to be able to charge you for every person watching a movie at home. This allows them to do so, and since Microsoft has bowed down to EA and Activision to further restrict used games, what makes you think in any sense they would support and further the MPAA in their attempt to control something you already own?

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Bill Loguidice
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I don't necessarily agree

Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:
The Kinect 2 is designed specifically to identify multiple people in the room. They have talked about how the kinect 2 will identify you and anyone else in the room, and if they have associated accounts on the xbox they will log them in. Assuming that they have no plans to utilize this with the new XBox is putting faith in Microsoft. A Microsoft that has locked down games on their new console so that you cannot let a friend borrow them. You cannot rent a game because of the activation, and the fact that it needs to be online at least once a day. Add to that the machine never truly turns off unless you disconnect the power cord. They have stated that the Kinect will always be on, either listening or watching. This smacks to me of the monitoring technology used throughout the book 1984. The only difference is that this is optional. The MPAA has said multiple times that they would like to be able to charge you for every person watching a movie at home. This allows them to do so, and since Microsoft has bowed down to EA and Activision to further restrict used games, what makes you think in any sense they would support and further the MPAA in their attempt to control something you already own?

Again, having an approximation of who is in the room and when is a lot different than maintaining an accurate count. You'd need 99.9% accuracy in order to make viewing limits practical on video content. No one is going to implement such a thing. It's just not a practical application of the technology because there's no benefit to restricting the number of viewers. The only logical extension of that would be restricting public performances, but then you'd need something that could detect masses of people versus small groups of people. The technology is not there yet, nor is the need. This is a patent like most patents, patenting a concept. These massive companies build their patent portfolios with filler all the time, just in case.

Yes, Microsoft is implementing a Steam-like structure for the Xbox One. Your purchases are tied to your account. There are obviously negatives associated with that, but you also have the benefit of access from anywhere that you log into.

You also need the console always on and listening/watching since that's the whole point of the thing. It's ready at any time to act on your commands. If you don't like that idea, you don't buy it, plain and simple. It's like all the privacy critics of Google Glass. Oh, my privacy. To me, it's ridiculous. Let technology progress and we can deal with the issues on-the-fly rather than belly aching about all this stuff before any of it is out and in use in the real world. It's sadly human nature to always jump to the worst case scenario with this stuff.

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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I disagree

Bill Loguidice wrote:
Again, having an approximation of who is in the room and when is a lot different than maintaining an accurate count. You'd need 99.9% accuracy in order to make viewing limits practical on video content. No one is going to implement such a thing. It's just not a practical application of the technology because there's no benefit to restricting the number of viewers. The only logical extension of that would be restricting public performances, but then you'd need something that could detect masses of people versus small groups of people. The technology is not there yet, nor is the need. This is a patent like most patents, patenting a concept. These massive companies build their patent portfolios with filler all the time, just in case. Yes, Microsoft is implementing a Steam-like structure for the Xbox One. Your purchases are tied to your account. There are obviously negatives associated with that, but you also have the benefit of access from anywhere that you log into.
You also need the console always on and listening/watching since that's the whole point of the thing. It's ready at any time to act on your commands. If you don't like that idea, you don't buy it, plain and simple. It's like all the privacy critics of Google Glass. Oh, my privacy. To me, it's ridiculous. Let technology progress and we can deal with the issues on-the-fly rather than belly aching about all this stuff before any of it is out and in use in the real world. It's sadly human nature to always jump to the worst case scenario with this stuff.

First - They don't do an approximation of who is in the room. The Kinect 2 and identify, and track 6 people no problem. Fitting more than 6 people in a living can be difficult for the average room size. They touted it as a selling point. Second - The MPAA has stated on numerous occasions that they want to charge for EVERY person watching a movie, but technology did not exist to do so. Kinect 2 can indeed do this. Microsoft has patented something that does exactly what MPAA has wanted, and will pay to implement. You say there is no benefit, but there is - money. And you think that it's just a fluff patent. Have you asked, why is it that the camera technology of last gen is a requirement of this generation? Everyone bitched about it, and it was never implemented well on the 360 and PS3 for the most part. So now they are forcing it on us. Why? With the current trend of companies doing everything in their power to enhance their profits even at the expense of the consumer there is no way that this won't be implemented in some fashion. Will it be upon release? Probably not, but the technology is there, and it will be used. Third - Tied games is fine for a computer. If you want to take a computer game over to a friends house you take your laptop. With consoles you take a game over to your friends house to play, not the console. Locking a game to an account is a hassle and demanding FULL price for a game to play at a friends house (unless you log into your account and sync it to that machine)is asinine. This is paranoid levels of anti piracy controls that will only hinder lawful users and you can rightfully guess that it was heavily pushed by EA and Activision to protect their IP. And what was wrong with the method of requiring the disc in the drive to play? You could install games in the current gen just fine, so long as you keep the disc in the drive. And blocking the ability to rent games doesn't help their position either. Because we all know that demos are so representative of the quality of games. /Sarcasm

Fourth - Why does the console need to be always on, always watching, always listening? What was so difficult about just pressing a damn button? Has society gotten so damn lazy they can't get up and push a button or, SHOCK!!! press the power button on a controller? With the skyrocketing cost of energy they are releasing a console that is always burning energy. The current consoles do the same thing, but you can be assured that it will require more power leaving the Kinect 2 than the current gen of consoles. There is no need for this at all. Power buttons and controller power buttons work just as well if not better. Kinect 1 barely understood a single word I said, and this is someone who lives in an area that is claimed to have the softest accent in the English speaking language and now they want me to say 'Xbox on' to turn the stupid thing on? And why can't I play without the thing plugged in? They stated that you cannot run the XBox One without the kinect at all. No thank you. And last - People have a right to be concerned about privacy. Our governments are stripping it away piece by piece with every law they can pass. There is a reason there are groups decrying the erosion of privacy and rights. It's because we are losing them. So people concerned with Privacy have every right to be. Am I concerned about privacy on Glass? No. I don't expect to run into it anywhere except for a public place, in which I won't be doing anything I don't want to do in front of other people. Kinect 2 always on, always watching and listening, in my living room. The place where I sit in my boxers and watch TV. That's a concern. And going from 15,000 servers to over 300,000? What for? Cloud Computing? Cloud Saves? At 20 times the number of servers? 15,000 servers work for 77 million consoles so why would they need to increase the number of servers to 300,000?

I'm not here to try to get you to believe in my position, I don't think you will. The questions being raised about the next generation are legitimate questions. People said activation keys for computer games would never take off. Now you activate every computer game you play. People said online services for DRM would never take off. Steam is going great, followed by the lagging Games for Windows and Origin. The history of gaming is littered with people not believing that companies would go as far as they would to protect their IP. There is no reason not to question everything coming that even looks remotely sketchy. I won't stop people from buying the new XBox One, people are going to want to play the games. But I won't be buying it and this will be the first generation since having a job that I will not own every console in the generation.

-Edit - At this point I have no impulse to purchase the PS4 either. This just has to do with the fact that I haven't seen anything that looks like it's worth the amount of money we are going to be required to drop to play.

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Bill Loguidice
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Counter

Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:
First - They don't do an approximation of who is in the room. The Kinect 2 and identify, and track 6 people no problem. Fitting more than 6 people in a living can be difficult for the average room size. They touted it as a selling point. Second - The MPAA has stated on numerous occasions that they want to charge for EVERY person watching a movie, but technology did not exist to do so. Kinect 2 can indeed do this. Microsoft has patented something that does exactly what MPAA has wanted, and will pay to implement. You say there is no benefit, but there is - money. And you think that it's just a fluff patent. Have you asked, why is it that the camera technology of last gen is a requirement of this generation? Everyone bitched about it, and it was never implemented well on the 360 and PS3 for the most part. So now they are forcing it on us. Why? With the current trend of companies doing everything in their power to enhance their profits even at the expense of the consumer there is no way that this won't be implemented in some fashion. Will it be upon release? Probably not, but the technology is there, and it will be used. Third - Tied games is fine for a computer. If you want to take a computer game over to a friends house you take your laptop. With consoles you take a game over to your friends house to play, not the console. Locking a game to an account is a hassle and demanding FULL price for a game to play at a friends house (unless you log into your account and sync it to that machine)is asinine. This is paranoid levels of anti piracy controls that will only hinder lawful users and you can rightfully guess that it was heavily pushed by EA and Activision to protect their IP. And what was wrong with the method of requiring the disc in the drive to play? You could install games in the current gen just fine, so long as you keep the disc in the drive. And blocking the ability to rent games doesn't help their position either. Because we all know that demos are so representative of the quality of games. /Sarcasm

All you have to do to "take your game to your friend's house" is log into your account on your friend's console. It's not really a big deal and in many ways more convenient. The camera thing is being "forced upon us" because the technology is finally to the point where it's practical to do so. You don't create sales by leaving out features.

Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:

Fourth - Why does the console need to be always on, always watching, always listening? What was so difficult about just pressing a damn button? Has society gotten so damn lazy they can't get up and push a button or, SHOCK!!! press the power button on a controller? With the skyrocketing cost of energy they are releasing a console that is always burning energy. The current consoles do the same thing, but you can be assured that it will require more power leaving the Kinect 2 than the current gen of consoles. There is no need for this at all. Power buttons and controller power buttons work just as well if not better. Kinect 1 barely understood a single word I said, and this is someone who lives in an area that is claimed to have the softest accent in the English speaking language and now they want me to say 'Xbox on' to turn the stupid thing on? And why can't I play without the thing plugged in? They stated that you cannot run the XBox One without the kinect at all. No thank you. And last - People have a right to be concerned about privacy. Our governments are stripping it away piece by piece with every law they can pass. There is a reason there are groups decrying the erosion of privacy and rights. It's because we are losing them. So people concerned with Privacy have every right to be. Am I concerned about privacy on Glass? No. I don't expect to run into it anywhere except for a public place, in which I won't be doing anything I don't want to do in front of other people. Kinect 2 always on, always watching and listening, in my living room. The place where I sit in my boxers and watch TV. That's a concern. And going from 15,000 servers to over 300,000? What for? Cloud Computing? Cloud Saves? At 20 times the number of servers? 15,000 servers work for 77 million consoles so why would they need to increase the number of servers to 300,000?

I like the idea of something like that always being ready. Quite frankly I DO find it frustrating to have to switch between components. If it's always there, always available and without hassle, I'll use its features more.

I'd be MORE concerned about Google Glass if I were a paranoid person. You say it's OK because it's restricted to public places, but public places include bathrooms, locker rooms, swimming areas, places where you kiss or hold hands, people who accidentally expose body parts, creeps who follow women, etc. It makes it VERY easy to capture everything, even moreso than a smartphone. With that said, personally, I'm NOT concerned. Again, I don't want to hinder technology based on all the "what ifs," then we'd never make any advancements. We deal with it as the actual issues - not imagined issues - arise.

All those Microsoft servers are a good thing. Cloud computing has a very important place and the idea that they'll be able to offload processing and other advanced functions in the future to bring us better games on the same old box is an exciting proposition, one that the PS4 will also benefit from. We thought this console generation was long, well, this next one could be even longer (though I don't know where Nintendo will fit into there, because the Wii U is already suffering).

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