Xbox One’s E3 revamp
Microsoft opens E3 2014 on a positive note, promising that it really is all about games
How Microsoft fared against Sony and Nintendo in LA
The seasonal slugfest where old plotlines end and new ones begin is seldom short of comeuppance, whether it was Nintendo’s Wii U debut floundering in a fight against Watch Dogs and Halo 4 back in 2012, or Microsoft’s catastrophic Xbox One policies losing out to Sony’s simple PS4 message in 2013. But last year’s bloodbath between Sony and Microsoft did not deliver so dramatic a sequel. The big three played to a draw of sorts, with Microsoft distinguishing itself, at last putting an end to its year of hell with a show that was deferential and humble, if short on surprises.
With a widely expected return to core gaming values, new Xbox boss Phil Spencer addressed Xbox players current and lapsed, standing among the crowds on the theatre floor and thanking them for the feedback that has so clearly shaped the direction of the console. The notion of Xbox One as an all-in-one media box was gone, the “power of the cloud” became the much gamier “dedicated servers”, and Kinect was as much an afterthought on stage as it has been in developers’ hands over the past 12 months.
Spencer promised togetherness “at an incredible time in our industry”, and for a moment it seemed Microsoft was on the verge of a change of stance that could, in better times, have signalled a conference full of seismic shocks. But instead came a reminder of how the past 12 months have depleted Xbox’s vision and shredded its creator’s nerve.
This was not a Microsoft proud to talk “all about the games”, but one afraid to show anything else. So toxic are Microsoft favourites like Kinect and multimedia convergence that they just weren’t mentioned at all. It gave the show a breathless pace that robbed the key games of their chance to shine. Headliners like this year’s Call Of Duty, Forza and Fable were followed by the borderline retro – and clearly leagues ahead of the usual HD remaster – Halo: The Master Chief Collection. 343 Industries played Halo 2 on stage and laughed about the good times.
Self-effacing and visibly anxious, Harmonix boss Alex Rigopulos was