The Future Of The Xbox One In Australia

"Are we exactly where we want to be today?" says Jeremy Hinton, Xbox Lead for Microsoft Australia. "No.

"Have we made massive gains in the last 12 months? I think we have."

Despite a reported disparity in pre-orders, the Xbox One was released in late 2013 to much fanfare. The launch was the most successful in Australian history, an achievement that was not repeated in any other territory across the world.

Since that day, the PlayStation 4 has been outselling the Xbox One at a reported ratio of two to one. Not the ideal scenario, particularly since the Xbox brand has always been strong here in Australia, but Jeremy Hinton is confident that a strong line-up of exclusive titles and the opening of local Azure Centres here in Australia might help tip the balance over the coming years.

"We’re in a place where we’re trying to prove to the community that we’re the best place to play," he explains.

Part of that task, he says, is responding to feedback, particularly when it come to the services the Xbox One can provide.

"It’s been really important for us to respond to feedback," says Jeremy. "I get reports on a monthly basis and that’s what actively drives our engineers now. What are we putting in the box, what features do we have, what does the community want to see? Things like DNLA streaming, the Plex app -- they came directly from that feedback. It is really important for us to be responsive to the community and say ‘we’re here, we’re listening’.

"We wanted to make sure we’re living up to the idea that the Xbox is the best place to play."

Part of living up to that idea is the promise of local servers. Take Titanfall, for example. Upon launch pings were dreadful for local players, which resulted in Microsoft, EA and Respawn putting together a solution that allowed for local servers being set up in Australia. Pings, says Hinton, went from 250 to sub-20 overnight.

But that was just the patch solution.

In October Microsoft officially announced that its long promised Azure Centres were open for business in Melbourne and Sydney. These Azure Centres are primarily designed for business, but they've typically been used for other purposes in other locations across the globe: they're used to host Xbox LIVE games.

Jeremy stopped short of announcing anything officially, but reinforced that these local Azure servers would play a large part in transforming the Australian Xbox LIVE service in the coming years.

"We have no announcements right now in terms of exact timings but we are working on it as we speak," he explains. "Hopefully we’ll have some announcements in the next couple of weeks but absolutely the intent is that anywhere there is a centre is to have that centre run Xbox Live multiplayer games."

But above and beyond better latency lurks the promise of 'the cloud' and the ability for Xbox One games to divert certain aspects of in-game processing to these Azure Centres. It sounds like science fiction, which is partly why many people have been cynical, but Jeremy Hinton believes this functionality will be pivotal in the coming years.

"I said this at launch to a lot of people, and I don’t think people understood at that point in time but I genuinely feel that it’ll be the most important thing of this generation. Having that functionality locally is amazing in terms of the experiences you can deliver."

It's been used minimally until now. Forza games have been using the cloud for its 'Drivatars' and Titanfall reportedly used the cloud to help process AI, but according to Jeremy that's just the beginning.

"I think it’s really important for an experience perspective -- more and more games are becoming online only. It’s all merging and having that local infrastructure is a huge investment on our part. It not only affects what we can deliver today, but over the next two to three years you’re just going to see it fundamentally shift the experiences we can deliver.

"Hopefully there are a lot of people saying, I wasn’t going to buy and Xbox One last year, but I will this year."


    Hopefully a Price Drop so, i can buy one for Sunset OverDrive

      The current BigW 478 bundle with Xbox One, no kinect, AC Unity, Forza Horizon 2 and AC4 is probably the best deal currently available.

        That deal is $430 this weekend only using the 10% off family friends voucher. Regardless it is NOT the best deal. The Microsoft Store had the best deal. Xbox One, no kinect, AC Unity, AC4, 12 months Xbox Live, Sunset Overdrive, Dead Rising 3 and Forza Horizon 2 for $479 (and an extra 4% cash back if you are with CashRewards). Now THAT is what I call a console selling deal. Shame they lacked the foresight to keep sufficient stock, as it is now sold out. Only took a few hours. They will hopefully restock, and hopefully JBHIFI will match the deal as well.

        nah, want less then $400 without Kinect

          That's cool you want it cheap, keep waiting. But it's still pretty damn cheap for a 1 year old console! Super super cheap

            order form USA on a sale is what i plan to do, its region free after all

          Then sell the games it it will be under $400

      There has been a price drop and there is constant sales.

    Not a single mention of oneguide functionality for Australia. Been promised since launch but nothing. Pretty frustrating.

      Pfft. I'd forgotten about the tv functionality entirely. I'll be very surprised if that ever makes it to such a tiny market.

        I'd have thought the overheads for that would be less than providing local servers and cloud infrastructure, even if they already have a datacenter for business products. Entertaining the idea of that makes it seem as though they are somewhat serious about the Australian market.

          True, but what makes you think any of the console manufacturers are serious about the Aussie market?

          Last edited 02/11/14 12:27 am

      I have a TV tuner on the way, as long as it's not oneguide reliant I'm hoping itmight even be a bit of a dodgy way to get oneguide using FTA guides.

    If they can figure out backwards compatibility they can have my money.

      Agree 100% I dusted off Red Dead Redemption last week to replay, and it was just as fun (more so, really) than the first time. I want to be able to replay all of my old library on my console again, if I want to. It's like having favourite movies and shows to watch again (and its not like I'll never watch Star Wars again, or BSG re-runs!). I'll keep playing my old faves forever just like new ones. (and at the mo, my 'library' games are still more entertaining than what X1 has come up with). come on... you're MICROSOFT, figure out a way!

    Have I become massively more handsome? I think I have, thanks for asking. Love it when people interview themselves.

    Well, I can say with absolute certainty that I would buy IF they dropped the price or ensured all stores came out with good bundles. I don't know what on earth is wrong with JBHIFI but they have become so expensive, and their bundles are horrid (what ever happened to their " always cheapest prices" slogan?). There was a fantastic bundle today for $479 (Using $20 off coupon code) on the Microsoft Store PLUS you get AN EXTRA 4% CASH BACK through cashrewards. This bundle came with XBOne 500GB console, 12MTHS XBox Live, AC Unity + Black Flag and a choice of 3 physical disc games (Including Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2, both new releases) all shipped to your door for free. Now at that price I would buy. Unfortunately it has sold out on their online store. If they cannot even maintain adequate stock levels then what hope do they have of getting people to buy? I will now be waiting until another such deal comes along, and if it is not soon, I will be going for a PS4. JBHIFI need to get their act together, their bundles are too expensive and include far too little. If they sold this bundle in store I would be there in a flash.

    Paid for and sponsored by Microsoft. Microsoft! For all your gaming needs!

    Just sold my Xbox one as it was just gathering dust. I no longer have the time to play multiple systems and the list of 'exciting' exclusives weren't there. I don't really need to play halo again, and it's much nicer having money in the pocket than a black box gathering dust In

      Same reason I sold my PS4. Couldn't justify two essentially similar systems, two pay for plays, so I kept the one that does more. Replaced the PS4 with a Wii-U.

      Last edited 01/11/14 7:34 pm

        I'm actually considering putting my PS4 on gumtree for an Xbox One. Played Forza 5 the other day and it was amazing. I like Titanfall on PC, but I prefer it with a controller (but have to play mouse+keyboard to be competitive).

        The most fun I have on my PS4 is playing D3 via remote play. But II have 400 paragon characters on PC.

        Wii U is probably the smart choice. I just hate the idea of buying something so underpowered.

          I used my ps4 savings to buy a 2nd Xbox as my wife is also a gamer and I can double up on all my digital games.....sadly split screen seems to be a thing of the past.

            Did the same nema with my GF
            Two player forza horizon2 is amazing, and you know we can't all wait for masterchief collection!!

            as for the ps4... that console should get some games that sony falsley promised...

            I plan on buying a kinectless for my computer desk after the next price drop to do the same. All my games are digital.

          Awesome timing too, with Azure coming online for Xbox One this week we'll have local servers for a lot of games we had to connect to Singapore for previously. I honestly don't know if I could of justified the Wii-U if it wasn't for the k-mart rain check error meaning I got a premium MK8 pack for $178. Whether the preference is Xbox or PS4 though, I think the smart choice for two consoles this gen is Xbox or PS4 as the first, with Wii-U as the second.

        Replaced the PS4 with a WiiU??
        Surely someone's trolling here!?!?! lol

        Last edited 01/11/14 11:28 pm

          Wii-U had more racing games than the PS4 that aren't made by EA, MK8 still has better online than Driveclub :p.

          Also after the next Zelda preview I was definitely getting one eventually, and figured that price wont be beaten for a black Premium pack for a long time.

          Really, Xbox is my single player and online console for the most part, while the Wii-U is a single player casual (usually on the controller, not the TV) and local party multiplayer console.

          Last edited 02/11/14 11:30 am

    None of the exclusives have me more than mildly aroused. Sunset Overdrive is too whacky for me, not really into FPS, but Halo would be a title I'd get if I had an Xbone. The only other I'd consider is Rise of the Tomb Raider, which will 'eventually' come to PS4.

      Have you seen the recent Gameplay video for Quantum Break - that's looks pretty cool!

    Give us the XBox One console Halo 5 edition. It will sell like a hot pancake.

    Interesting spin from this story (more the headline rather than the narrative) is that there's no Sony in sight at this year's PAX Australia. Xbox are dominating the console area and with their own presence there as well, they are certainly going 'all in' for their slice of the Australian market.

    (For what it's worth: I'm running a PS4, PS3 and Xbox 360 at the moment - and the 360 is still getting more of a workout than the two Sony products.)

    The only reason I'd consider buying an XBox One is Killer Instinct, and that isn't anywhere near enough. I've had my PS4 since January and haven't once regretted my purchase.

    Best game out is fantasy life.... never knew a 3DS game could be so good!

    If they want to sell tones of xbone then Microsoft should buy Plex and make it free for all users. The DLNA with the media app on the xbox is ok but it is still worse than my wdlive. This is the only way they can make the unit the media hub it was supposed to be since the next console will probably come out by the time the tv side is sorted out.
    And yes I am to tight to pay for a subscription to Plex.

    Meanwhile the Wii U actually does control your TV and the PS4 has voice control using any headset. I am only posting this as the garbage self indulgent PR babble article needs some shit stirring. I am in no way hating on actual Xbox owners.

    I just bought one the other day....

    All I can say, so far, is that the menu system requires a degree to comprehend. It seems appears unnecessarily complicated. I have no doubt I will get used it, but....

    Kinect Voice commands are effective,but you need to learn all of those as well.

    Kind of enjoying the simplicity of the PS4 dash more.

    Last edited 03/11/14 11:47 am

      easy to say now after only a few days with the console, but like you said once you get used to it the UI is pretty terrific. Learn Snap by double clicking the Xbox button.

    I'm waiting on a slim version. I bought my current TV stand for my Xbox 360 S to fit next to my Wii U, and when I run out of games to play on the 360 (most likely early next year), I'll get either a gaming PC or a Xbox One Slim. It took 4.5 years for the 360 S to be released, and as the One's size is one of its biggest complaints, I reckon we'll get one around 2016. So I can wait until then and work on my pile-o'-shame for the time being.

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