The E.A.R.: Knee Jerk Reactions From Microsoft’s E3 Media Briefing


 

From the comfort of the passenger seat of my girlfriend’s car, on the way back from a nice hike in the White Mountains, I had a chance to catch the Microsoft E3 Media briefing from my mobile phone. It is the first time in three years that I have had to watch the media briefing from something other than my TV, but it was totally worth the beautiful hike. The media briefing itself was well done. With a barrage of games, it seems like there’s a ton to be excited about for Xbox One owners, or is it? Let’s break down this conference, and you will see why that this year’s E3 briefing like the prior one is a smoke, and mirrors show.

Trailers, and gameplay footage was broken down into a few categories

Exclusive/World Premiere Exclusive: These are games that are exclusive to the Xbox family of systems. These games won’t be seen on any other system, ever. There were roughly 18 of those which seems exciting, but we’ll do a breakdown of this later.

Console Launch Exclusive: This one can be a bit confusing, and rather misleading if you don’t understand what the terminology is actually referencing. Console Launch Exclusive simply means that the game is a timed exclusive; it’ll launch on the Xbox family of systems first, and will drop on other platforms 6-12 months down the road. There were quite a few of these, and they often give the impression that there are more exclusives on the system than there actually are.

World Premiere: This is where things also get rather misleading, especially when after some of these trailers, developers from those studios come up on stage to give Microsoft the equivalent of the fellatio that got Bill Clinton impeached (too soon). World Premieres are first looks of games that Microsoft paid out the ass to be shown at their conference first. These games made up a good chunk of the games brought to the presentation, and at times tended to be the real show stealers. All the world premieres have no exclusivity, and will be available on many other platforms when they launch.

Let’s Breakdown the exclusives. There was the Halo: Infinite teaser which was much hyped. They showed off an a trailer for the sequel to Ori and The Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. There was a new Forza Horizon title that looked nice with some dope environmental effects. There were three new Gears of War titles shown, one for mobile, and two of them for the Xbox. They also showed a clip from the new Crackdown title, and a clip from We Happy Few, a game shown two years ago at E3. Now you’re probably wondering about the other 11 exclusives? A few of those exclusives are merely expansions to games that came out last year like Sea of Thieves, and Cuphead. Others were included in a sizzle reel for indie games.

With so many games, one would have to assume that there is much to be excited about for Xbox owners. You’re sort of right; there is much to be excited about, just not this year. A bulk of the heavy hitters don’t launch until 2019, presumably the holiday season. Until there isn’t a terrible amount to fill the void that can’t already be played on a PS4, Nintendo Switch, or PC. It should also be noted that all the Microsoft exclusives are playable on PC which begs the question, is there any good reason to own an Xbox One in 2018? There were some solid titles, but not ones that will make people run out and drop money on an Xbox One today, or this holiday season. During this conference, they did a showed off four new studios they acquired, and a new one developed by them.

The Initiative: A New Studio formed by former Crystal Dynamics head of studio Darrell Gallagher.

Undead Labs: Known for the State of Decay series

Playground Games: They collaborated with Turn 10 games to make the Forza Horizion series.

Ninja Theory: They worked on a few games including Heavenly Sword, DmC: Devil May Cry, and the now critically acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Compulsion Games: Known for Contrast, and now We The Happy Few.

Microsoft within this conference openly acknowledged what has plagued their platform for years. They lack the exclusive titles that make Sony and Nintendo systems the power houses they are. While Sony and Nintendo both have very strong first party exclusives, they also benefit greatly from studios in Japan that make games exclusively for those systems. Microsoft’s consoles don’t do very well in Japan, thus developers never have any incentive to make games for that console that aren’t already ported to other platforms. Microsoft has decided to buy and endorse its star power much like the rest of this conference, bought and endorsed by Microsoft. Microsoft has come to accept the fact that it has lost the war in Japan, and has rallied developers in the states, and Canada to make exclusive titles. How this gamble will turnout is a matter of time.

For now, there isn’t any spectacular reason one would shell out money for an Xbox One in 2018. Microsoft also teased development of a new console towards the end of the conference which leads me to believe there will be some holdouts as a result. There really wasn’t anything at that conference that made me proud to be an Xbox owner. I have all three consoles, but I play 90% of my games on my PS4, and my Nintendo Switch. My Xbox One sits in my entertainment stand as a glorified $300 media box that plays Bluerays, gets me my Netflix, streams TV from my antenna, and allows me to watch YouTube on the big screen all powered by an obsolete Kinect Sensor. The sad thing is that in 2018, we’re finally getting devices that can do everything the Xbox One could do in 2013 for a fraction of the price.

With unique games like Ryse, and Sunset Overdrive, Microsoft seemed to be on to something. Even with its underpowered system, Microsoft was about to ride on caliber games. The problem is that the Xbox One has been marred with some high profile cancellations, one of those being the infamous “Scalebound”. Since then, there haven’t been any reasons I want to fire up my Xbox One for anything beyond media consumption that can’t be found on a PC. The Xbox isn’t as relevant in 2018 with the flurry of titles on both the Nintendo Switch and the PS4. Nintendo has a better leg up in being a cheap yet extremely fun family console that continues to penetrate living rooms everywhere. Microsoft will have to do a lot in order to become the behemoth it once was, but for now it is safe to assume they have lost this generation. Most of the hype this conference came from stuff that will be on other platforms soon. Now that Microsoft has drawn first blood, it will be interesting to see what Sony and Nintendo have up their sleeves.

Stay Classy…

 

Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90s.

 

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