Microsoft’s Penello Responds to Criticism on Xbox One Demos’ Quality, Blames Outdated Builds/UI, Screen Calibration

on October 18, 2013 7:26 AM

Yesterday an user on NeoGaf opened a thread expressing some rather harsh and specific criticism on the quality of the demos offered by Microsoft as part of the Xbox One Tour.

He criticized basically everything, from visuals (especially aliasing “almost everywhere”) to gameplay and even the controller. In the same thread others also mentioned that the UI looked very slow. Of course you can imagine that the discussion got heated very fast, and the thread was soon locked.

While a single user’s opinion has to be taken with a very substantial grain of salt, Microsoft’s Director of Product Planning Albert Penello saw fit to respond, explaining that what the user saw were outdated builds, and the UI wasn’t final.

No intent to diminish the perspective or the opinions of the OP.

Couple things worth noting.

First, the game demos on the tour are the same ones we’ve shown at E3, Gamescom, and PAX. So both Forza and Ryse look good, but not the same as final. Both games look better now (as I would expect would be the case for Sony as well), so don’t judge the tour demos too harshly relative to the final games. The Ryse video released today I think demonstrates that for those who have compared the E3 trailers with the newest.

Second, the environment that these games run in is not the same environment used for building the dash. So for those seeing the slow/janky dash UI from the tour, that’s nothing like what the real code looks like. These tour boxes are not getting Beta drops, so the UI isn’t even correct, let alone performing well. So don’t use that as any comparison to the real UI. Again, the video released earlier in the week shows the updated code.

Controller should be close to final. So YMMV on how you like it. I’ve worked on every version of every Xbox controller, and I like this one the best by a mile.

(note: YMMV means “Your Mileage May Vary”).

Incidentally, he also mentioned that Sony is exactly in the same position with PS4 demos.

Lastly – Sony’s in exactly the same position, so I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt either. When you have stuff that works, you use it even if it’s not perfect. Right now, everyone is crunching.

When the discussion moved to aliasing and to the fact that the Monitors may not have been properly calibrated (thing that reportedly happened at Tokyo Game Show with Forza Motorsport 5 as well), Penello mentioned that it’s definitely a common problem.

This is a constant sore point.

In a further thread he reiterated that the demos for Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza Motorsport 5 shown on the tour are outdated, and were created before the CPU and GPU of the console were upgraded. He also explained that the new trailer of Ryse released yesterday (embedded at the bottom) is all real gameplay from a more up-to-date build, besides the fact that the camera is unlocked for scenic reasons.

You have to remember nobody outside Microsoft has seen this version of the game. Any other people who have played it are referencing the demo we’ve been showing from E3, Gamescom and PAX. – pre GPU and CPU upgrade. Same goes for any of the Forza footage. That’s what’s on the betas people have, and that’s what’s on the tour.

When Phil showed me this trailer a few weeks ago, I was telling him this better be the real thing. I was told directly this was taken from XBO builds, with the exception of unlocking the camera for the battle scenes to make it more dramatic.

So this is the real thing.

So, there you have it: if you get your hand on an Xbox One demo unit during the One Tour, you may want to consider that you’re playing outdated builds, and what you’re seeing is not a 100% faithful representation of the final product.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.