The Xbox One was revealed with a lot of baggage. There was some good stuff tucked in there, but the system as a whole was evidence of what happens when boardrooms design “platforms.” The Xbox One was going to be our center for everything, and that meant a heavy, heavy emphasis on television and entertainment.
Gamers? We wanted games. We didn’t want the forced inclusion of the Kinect, which is gone. We didn’t want always-on requirements, which are gone. We didn’t want used game-blocking DRM, which is gone. We wanted games.
But that Snap thing? That Snap thing was pretty cool.
The problem? It lagged. Horribly. I used Snap most for two things. I watched hockey while I played games and I used it for Twitch.
Initiating Snap caused things to grind down to a stuttering lag for around half a minute. You could feel the system churn down as the underpowered Xbox One juggled two tasks at once. Once the TV app worked and I could navigate back to the game, things felt fine.
On Twitch? Having to swap back and forth was a grueling task compared to gaming on other platforms. It was inherently problematic thanks entirely to the guts of the Xbox One.
Make no mistake, Microsoft designed the Xbox One with a media focused set of hardware. Creating a console is a balancing act of power, performance and cost. Adding stuff like the Kinect, HDMI passthroughs and a One Guide costs money. That money is made back through console sales. In order to keep the Xbox One affordable at launch, Microsoft had to trim specs back to keep space open for more media-centric stuff.
Thus, the underpowered nature of the system when compared to the cheaper PlayStation 4.
Snap’s officially gone with the next major update. Why? They’re looking to improve system performance and make Xbox One UI navigation smoother. Here’s Xbox exec Mike Ybarra on Twitter:
We replaced Snap to improve multitasking, reduce memory use, improve overall speed, and free up resources going forward for bigger things.
— Mike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) January 24, 2017
Microsoft hasn’t revealed usage statistic for Snap. I imagine the percentage of users consistently using the feature was so low that they felt comfortable dropping it for other things. I get that; after all, this is a gaming platform first, in spite of Microsoft’s original message.
Will it return with the Scorpio? I think that question is indicative of the field of queries that surrounds the likes of Scorpio and the PlayStation 4 Pro. As we move away from new console generation and into console iterations, what will happen to features like Snap? Snap’s being scrapped because current units aren’t powerful enough to handle it properly. Scorpio will be. The future will be. Will Snap return? Or will it stay away since Microsoft needs to work with the base Xbox One in mind?
We might see a future comparable to what’s going on with smartphones. Certain apps and features won’t apply to old devices as their age means they’re no longer up for support.
So long, Snap. You were a good idea hampered by poor planning. The Xbox has come a long way since its reveal in 2013, so that’s a plus.