It can happen at any moment. It may be now, tomorrow, next month--but as it stands, anything you think you know about the Xbox One could change. Microsoft has given us a firm launch date--(November 22nd--but a lot can happen in the two-and-a-half months between then and now. With all the backtracking Microsoft has already made on its next-generation console, there's no telling what uncertainties may still lie in the Xbone's future.
To put your mind at ease, we've hired some of the world's top analysts and market researchers to predict the next Xbox One-related turnabout. For better or for worse, these about-face changes are all but guaranteed to occur before the November 22nd release date; all that's left to do now is prepare for them. If these 100%-factually-accurate changes sway your purchasing decision, we recommend that you buy/cancel your Xbox One pre-order as soon as possible.
The status quo: Plugging in the Kinect 2.0 camera was a requirement for using the Xbox One when it was originally revealed, meaning it would be in a constant state of use whether the console was on or off, worrying gamers that their privacy was being violated by a constant recording of living room data. Thankfully, Microsoft eventually decided that you would be able to use the system sans ever-watching eye.
The hypothetical 180: Six months after the system launch, Microsoft attempts to make gamers feel even more secure by reversing the function of the Kinect. Instead of observing and recording gamers, it now acts as a one-way viewing channel. When peering into the Kinect 2.0, users will be see footage streamed from a camera installed in the home of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Xbox: Go home
The status quo: With the Kinect 2.0 plugged in, the plan is to make the Xbox One voice-activated at all times. By voicing the words "Xbox on" anywhere in the console's vicinity, the system would actually start up on command.
The hypothetical 180: Gamers worry that they'll inadvertently activate their new console during casual conversation within earshot of the Kinect. To ensure that such a social faux pas never occurs, Microsoft gives each individual system its own identification code. Now, when you want to power up your console, all you need to do is state your unique code and instructions. For instance: "Xbox 9-1-5-6-2-3-4-6-2-1-5-6-9-7-8-8-8-8-2-0 on."
Always on schedule, never online
The status quo: As a precautionary measure of DRM, the Xbox One was slated to require an Internet connection every 24 hours. After an onslaught of negative feedback, Microsoft scaled back the internet requirement to the first time you activate the system.
The hypothetical 180: Months after the system launches, Microsoft ups the ante even further: there's no Internet connection allowed. If the Xbox One detects a Wi-Fi signal within a given range, it will automatically power off.
Getting it backwards
The status quo: The Xbox One is not backwards compatible, meaning the games in your 360 library won't work in any next-gen console.
The hypothetical 180: Microsoft decides to re-engineer the Xbox One so that it can play discs made for the original Xbox, the Xbox 360, and old MS/DOS installation CDs from the 1990s. Gamers still complain that floppy disks aren't supported.
For the windie
The status quo: Indie studios will not be able to self-publish, and will have to release their games with the help of a publishing company. Microsoft reneges, instituting the Independent Developers @ Xbox system to allow indies to manage their own products and earnings.
The hypothetical 180: One year after the program launches, Microsoft gives the EAs, Ubisofts, and Activisions of the world a shock: only indies will be allowed to publish games on the Xbox One. Billion-dollar companies will now have to seek out the financial aid of indie studios in order to release their blockbuster games on the system.
Used world order
The status quo: Microsoft looks to kill off the video game aftermarket, giving publishers the power to block used games. But after being ridiculed by a viral Sony video, Microsoft pledged that used games will work on the Xbox One just as they do on the 360.
The hypothetical 180: Two years from now, Microsoft will instate a new policy: all games will go to market open and pre-played, effectively making it so that only used Xbox One games exist. Utilizing a barter system will be the only legal way of acquiring these used games.
The status quo: For those who reserve it in advance, a "Day One" edition of the Xbox One is available. Early adopters will be rewarded with an exclusive achievement and a controller with the words "DAY ONE 2013" slapped onto the middle of it.
The hypothetical 180: Microsoft scraps the Day One Edition, opting instead to offer the Xbox One Last Day edition. This limited time offer is reserved for those who purchase an Xbox One during the last day of production, years after the next console generation is well underway. It also comes with an achievement that erases your entire Gamerscore.
The status quo: The design of the Xbox One framework is mocked for looking exactly like a Betamax at a distance.
The hypothetical 180: In a reactionary move, Microsoft alters the Xbox One construction to resemble a Laserdisc player. No one bats an eye, because nobody remembers what a Laserdisc player even looks like.
Points of contention
The status quo: To the relief of confused gamers everywhere, Microsoft announces that transactions on Xbox One have done away with the virtual Microsoft Points currency.
The hypothetical 180: In a surprising twist, Microsoft Points become the only accepted form of currency for doing business with the colossal tech company. Microsoft employees' paychecks now come in the form of MS Point cards.
The status quo: Livestreaming your gameplay directly to Twitch.tv is now an integrated function of the Xbox One.
The hypothetical 180: Microsoft announces an unfortunate oversight: by misreading the fine print, they actually entered a contract to stream Xbox One footage exclusive to Twitch sister site Justin.tv, where it will compete with public access news stations, live music concerts, and digital classroom activities.
Friending it all
The status quo: The restrictive 100-friend limit of the Xbox 360's Live service is now expanded to a generous 1,000.
The hypothetical 180: The concept of an Xbox Live friends list is abolished entirely. If XBL members wish to play together, they'll need to coordinate their queue times and chat via conference call. Just like the good old days.
The status quo: The Xbox One will be able to read Blu-Ray discs, causing movie buffs and pornography aficionados to rejoice.
The hypothetical 180: Microsoft doubles down on the HD DVD format, in the hopes that Blu-Ray's battered, discontinued competition could maybe, just maybe, make a comeback.
Console your obsolete console
The status quo: Playing Xbox One games will require an Xbox One.
The hypothetical 180: Xbox One games are now self-sufficient; simply place them on or near your TV, and you'll be gunning down aliens and taking hairpin turns in no time. Additionally, a Kinect will not be required for motion-controlled gaming.
One Mattrick pony
The status quo: Don Mattrick jumps ship, ditching Microsoft for a cushy job at Zynga after a tirade of hatred from the gaming community.
The hypothetical 180: Mattrick quits Zynga and applies for a job as a janitor at Microsoft's headquarters. In a pre-recorded video directed at the gaming public, Mattrick apologizes for his insolence regarding the Xbox One and vows to work his way back up the chain.
The Final 180
The status quo: On November 22nd, the Xbox One will launch for $500.
The hypothetical 180: On $500, the Xbox One will launch for November 22nd.
Throwing it in reverse
Now that you know what the future holds, will you ever trust Microsoft again? Then again, all they're doing is giving you exactly what you wanted, and you hate them for it. You monster. Do you have any completely credible predictions about the Xbox One's remaining flip-flop potential? By all means, share them in the comments below--that way, you can tell your friends "I told you so" when your predictions come true.
Looking for actual, not-completely-made-up info on the Xbox One? Look no further than Everything we know about Xbox One. Want more goofy features? We've got those too; check out PS4 vs. Xbox One: The sensual, hands-on controller comparison.