The year 2019 was an excellent year for video games, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the best for new console releases. While Nintendo hit it out of the park with their handheld-only version of the Switch, the Switch Lite, other companies were left floundering, saving their big guns for 2020, when both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 will release.
It wasn’t a fully dead year for console releases, though, as one major tech company tried to make headway, and another took a risk that ended up being a dud. Here’s a look back at a couple of console catastrophes vying for worst console of 2019.
Xbox One S All-Digital Edition
The Xbox One S by itself is an excellent console. You can’t argue with the quality and handling of the console. Microsoft knows what it’s doing, and it continues to do it well with every console they release.
However, the S All-Digital Edition feels like a cash grab during the final year of the Xbox One’s life cycle. When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition on April 19, 2019, many were expecting something new from Microsoft regarding the next generation of consoles and were disappointed.
Many were already speculating Sony was working toward a PlayStation 5, along with Microsoft working on their next generation of hardware. During E3 2019, we learned this was true, and we learned further details about Project Scarlett, and later the PlayStation 5.
Here we are, a few months away from learning about Project Scarlett (later revealed as the Xbox One X), and Microsoft comes forward with a new version of the Xbox One. Players and fans don’t need a new option when they’re learning details about a brand new console they can expect to see on shelves during the holidays of 2020, especially an all-digital version lacking the Blu-ray player, even with Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 3, and Minecraft already pre-loaded on it. Even for a price tag of $249, it doesn’t feel like a good time to unveil a new project.
Microsoft needs to focus on taking steps to move forward, keep its audience on about the latest projects they’re developing, and plan to release with the Xbox Series X. It came out as a cheaper Xbox One option, but the exclusive-digital package doesn’t feel like a good sale price. It’s just not enough, especially this late in the Xbox One’s life.
Worst Gaming Console of the Year:
A standout console this year was Google’s jump forward into the gaming industry, the Google Stadia. Unfortunately, a rocky launch, lack of promised features, and a tiny game library led to the general failure of Google’s attempt to be first to the game streaming market.
Initially, Google told those who pre-ordered the cloud-sharing device they would receive several perks. These included a chance to acquire the username they desired, a fully accessible wireless controller, and having 4K/HDR/5.1 support on day one.
However, these early adopters had the rug pulled out from underneath them as it drew closer to the release date. The developers opened up about what they promised and what was available, and what wasn’t. There numerous disappointments and the developers left out a good chunk of things they wanted to be day-one items.
Players had far fewer perks than they initially released. YouTube did not come with the launch title, and players had received promises of clicking a button to immediately launching it to browse videos in seconds. This missing piece also lost the ability for Stream Connect, where players could have split screen multiplayer from their Stadia devices without any lag. The same goes for Family Sharing for households with multiple members who want to play the game.
Additionally, the platform itself was poor. The input lag from a player’s controller to what happened on screen was abysmal. Several people were making gifs showing how bad the input lag was by doing a brief action, looking at the camera, and when they looked away from their digital character, it finally did the act.
It was apparent how bad the console turned out, and while Google could turn it around in 2020, they’re off to a bad start, losing consumer and industry confidence.
For more of our Year in Review 2019 series, head to our hub page.