Roundtable: Expectations Of Microsoft’s E3

Xbox BrodieSince the departure of Don, it’s undeniable that the Xbox brand has begun its resurgence. It’s on the up and up.

Phil Spencer is, without doubt, the man to lead Xbox into the great unknown.

What does it take to win back gamers, though? Games, of course. Phil and company have been talking up a big game in the lead-up to their show opening press conference in just under a week’s time. And we’re not just talking the obligatory Call of Duty reveal that would once pad out the rear end of a show, they’re promising exclusives and big ones.

Could the fabled Master Chief Collection of remastered Halo titles be the real deal? If so, there’ll be a great deal of clamouring for it, as some of my fondest memories with a video game is all-night LAN parties on Halo 2. We know Guardians is not destined for this year, so perhaps we’ll be forced to venture backward to get her fix of John-117.

Sunset Overdrive is being played up as the year’s most bombastic and ludicrous title, but I bet there’s one that could trump it.

Skills for kills, agent. Skills for kills. That’s right, there’s the long-rumoured Crackdown 3 to consider. Spencer has gone on record saying that it’s a game that’s “not dead” and just “needs the right team”. With any luck, we might get a glimpse of a cloud-computed Pacific City sometime in the not too distant future.

Those are the predictions grounded in reality. If you want the long shots I’m praying day and night for, here it goes.

Banjo-Kazooie. Geometry Wars. Viva Piñata. Alan Wake. Shadow Complex. And, of course, at the roughest odds possible, a thrilling conclusion to one of my favourite series currently left hanging, Condemned.

Oh, and release a date for Below already, won’t you? Super Time Force simply isn’t enough game to sate the Capy desire burning within my gut.

Xbox John
It doesn’t take a business analyst to see that Microsoft is left playing catch up to the PlayStation 4. They can cite attach rate numbers all they want, the Xbox One is behind in sales. Microsoft knew that fans weren’t happy, so they have been trying to right all those wrongs over the past few months with many updates fixing some of the consoles issues. I feel we will see a bit more of this at their press conference, announcements on upcoming features that will be implemented and just trying to build up some good will with their hardcore consumers, leaving the 360 to be a mere footnote of the conference just to show that they will still support it a little over the next year.

This press conference is going to be all about games, or so I hope. I imagine Microsoft wants to try establish some dominance by bringing a lot of big titles and a showcase of exclusives. It’s pretty obvious that Call of Duty: Advance Warfare will get some kind of showing on the Microsoft floor, hopefully in the form of gameplay demo. Though exclusives like D4, Fable Legends, Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive, Project Spark and Forza Horizon 2 are going to have some form of showing. I’m not certain about Metal Gear Solid V though, it’s going to be shown, but where? Will they stick to the Microsoft stage to push the message that the game is going on multi-platform? Or will they jump back to their old home on the Sony Press conference stage?

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Then we have the mysteries of E3.

Like, what’s Rare working on? Is it Kinect related? Is it a revival of an old IP, as they have hinted at many times in past, or something completely new? What’s going on with Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six: Patriots? Is Rockstar going to announce their “new gen” game at this E3? And one that I really want to know about, what is happening with “Summer of Arcade” this year? Is Capybara’s game Below going to be one of the titles?

What else is there? I don’t feel like I can accurately speculate or predict at this point. Not without me just pulling out what I’ve been waiting for, like Shadow Complex 2, or Beyond Good and Evil 2. All I know that after last year’s fiasco, Microsoft needs to prove that they aren’t completely out of touch with their core demographic. This press conference gives a chance for Phil Spencer to set the tone for what he will do as Xbox head honcho.

Xbox Diego
When you take a moment to slow down and think about what’s happened to Microsoft over the past year, it’s been, quite frankly, just plain amazing. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Microsoft is slowly picking itself up thanks to the consumer and games minded Phil Spencer.

Following controversy after controversy, and amendment after amendment, the Xbox has had a rough and complicated start. All things considered however, the Xbox One has been doing pretty alright, not as well as its direct competitor the PS4, but still solidly trailing behind.

Phil Spencer
As far as expectations go, I’m worried about what Microsoft’s plan of action is going to be now. They obviously want to, at least, catch up to Sony. The Kinect-less Xbox One reveal is prime example of that. But what’s actually going to happen to the Kinect then? The Kinect has never actually been popular, and honestly, it seems like a waste of resources to continue supporting it. Likewise, it would be quite foolish to not support it at all, having had so many people forcibly buy it in the first place, so I really want to see where they are going to go with this.

In terms of games, the only game I’m really interested in seeing right now is Halo. It’s a pretty vanilla answer, but quite honestly, it’s the only franchise that truly excites me when it comes to Microsoft exclusives.

Going back to the competitive state of the industry, one other worry for me is third party software. Almost like a continuous smack down, Sony’s PlayStation 4 has shown that it runs multi-platform games much more efficiently than the Xbox One, so I want to see if any third party titles can do the exact opposite and turn the tables, running a smoother game on the Xbox One.

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