E3 - Microsoft Gaming Thoughts...

Lots going on in this conference, and I will start right off by saying this one left me feeling much better about the direction of the Xbox One than Microsoft's initial conference did. When one of their opening comments is "It's all about the games" - well, I feel like they were back on the right track.

About twenty games were shown off, including some new IPs - but perhaps the biggest reveal came at the end when it was announced that the Xbox One will be $499 in November. I would say that is the expected price, and it feels a smidgeon high at first - but considering what all you are getting with the Kinect, I would say that it actually is probably about right. It also gives the impression that there is a single unit coming out and not several different packages.

Now that I have touched on the end of the conference, I would be remiss in not mentioning the impressive beginning where Konami offered up Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This game had some cool ideas as an open-world stealth game, but the visuals stood out over anything else on display. The term when I was looking out at the horizon was photo-realistic and sort of 'hit' me the way Oblivion did when I first saw it on Xbox 360.

The new Xbox 360 that got put out today is meant to look like the Xbox One, but did not strike me as nearly as interesting as the announcements about Xbox Live Gold. It had already been announced that a single Gold account would cover the whole family going forward. Taking a page from Sony's PlayStation Plus book, they also announced that two games a month would be offered up for free. The words used were "yours to keep" - so does that mean you can still play them even if you do not have Xbox Live Gold? The first offerings mentioned were Assassin's Creed II and Halo 3. I have the latter, but not the former, so that is nice. These offerings are popular, but a good deal older than some of what comes out for the PlayStation Plus. I am not sure if the future game offerings will be a bit more current or not.

The Xbox 360 did not get a lot of love up on the stage, though the above announcement likely helped, and World of Tanks certainly looked cool. There were some remarks about support for the Xbox 360 going forward, but Microsoft really did put most of their attention on the Xbox One, and for good reason.

Forza 5, Quantum Break, Crimson Dragon were all notable in that they looked pretty (which was all Crimson Dragon had going for it as no sound played - leaving the audio to be made up only of audience noise), but none of them really grabbed me personally. Drivatar is a term that just sits awkwardly on my tongue as I think about Forza 5.

Ryse was an interesting show, if only because it looked great visually, but also appeared loaded with quick time events - something I am not usually a big fan of. I have not seen anything on Ryse in a very long time - it was originally demoed to really show off the Kinect, but there was no integration of that sort shown on screen, leaving me with more questions than answers on that front.

I like fighting games, but never really got into Killer Instinct. Still, it looked sharp, and is a title I have heard requested of Rare for some time now. What was kind of cool was showing off how the video recording and editing options will work while mentioning the partnership with Twitch.

I really did not get excited about Minecraft for the Xbox One. Sure - it is popular and has a zillion people playing it, but given its unique, almost minimalistic style, I find myself wondering what the Xbox One brings to the experience.

Insomniac really put a ton out there for us to take in when they introduced Sunset Overdrive, described as a "living world game". The introduction was incredibly stylized, oozing cartoon violence while promising a wide multiplayer shooting experience.

Project Spark was one of the more interesting titles, looking like Microsoft's answer to LittleBig Planet, showing off the SmartGlass to show off how quickly you can develop a game with lots of environmental control and freedom. "We hope we sparked your imagination" and "think blank canvas" were a couple of the lines that stood out to me. The exit video showed games with 2D platforming, 3D track/marble racing, overhead adventuring and more.

Witcher 3 looked gorgeous - not that I would have expected anything less. As an RPG fan, that was a lot of fun to see amidst the swarm of shooting games. Not that I dislike shooters - but Battlefield 4 and Titanfall really sort of blurred for me. Dead Rising 3 also did not particularly impress me - the first two games were dumb fun, but nothing that held my attention for long. Visually - they were all very impressive, with lots of sweeping landscapes in The Wither 3, plenty of explosions in Battlefield 4 and a ton of moving zombies in Dead Rising 3.

The Halo reveal was very cool. Again, it is another shooter, but it is generally safe to say that Halo has been a standout title for Microsoft, and that introduction and the promise of "blistering 60 frames per second" was indeed appealing.

I thought the last Microsoft conference was a bit of a disaster, and that their lats couple of E3 showings were pretty weak too. That being said? I thought this was an excellent overall showing, due to their gaming focus. One of their other earlier quotes: "Thrteen next generation titles you will only find on Xbox One" - felt right both before and after hearing it.

What were your thoughts? Did Microsoft redeem themselves from their last conference, or are you still left unconvinced? What resonated with you - and what fell flat? I would love to know.



  1. Not sure if you saw it, but apparently Amazon has the release date as November 30th. That would be the last day of the month, on a Saturday.

    I didn't watch the entire conference, just bits and pieces as Bean 1 decided he wanted to try Super Metroid for the first time ever. He almost made the evacuation at the beginning...but I ended up being voluntold to help out after that.

    So I was back and forth. I am kind of wondering if they are doing just the release at $500, then will do a subscription model pretty quickly after launch. Maybe they're thinking that they will sell them early to the "core" fans, like Nintendo did in November/December, but then the new year introduce a Xbox One subscription model?

    Or, perhaps they're just playing it by "ear" right now, and figured they would announce a higher price, and could adjust it before launch and/or introduce the a subscription model if necessary. The interesting thing I think will be to see how many units are purchased by legitimate consumers wanting the Xbox One, or by people like in the attached image who caused some issues for Nintendo.

    Did they redeem themselves from the always online, no used games, and TV focus and them charging me for what our Bluray player/Wii/PS3/iPhone/NOOK and Wii U do for free like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube...OH, and play online? No.

    I'm cheap, and $500 without a game, plus having to pay for online, be always online when our internet service is spotty enough at random times at night, I want to know how the thing works if the internet connection isn't SOLID, it's a no go.

    Even after watching EA's conference, all I really saw there was more of the same cookies with new icing from them. There wasn't anything EA showed that made me think, "I'm grabbing my tent, and going to camp out for these 'next-gen' consoles."

    The one game that looked pretty cool to me was Project Spark, but I already have plenty of development software kits downloaded, and that's what it reminded me of. Not a bad thing, but not something I would pay $500 for.

  2. ROFL @ the pic

    I like that you were 'recruited' to help with Super Metroid.

    I agree that Project Spark looked cool, but I agree - it's not reason enough to plunk down all that change. Especially since it looks like it is optimized for SmartGlass, which is another investment if you really want to 'go the extra mile' there.

    After watching Sony's conference, I feel like Microsoft did a good job of showing the games, but in the end their model looks a lot pricier and a good deal more flawed to me.


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