E3 2014: What to Expect from Microsoft's Press Conference
In an ideal world, the Microsoft E3 press conference would start with Phil Spencer walking onto a darkened stage up to a lone Xbox One bathed in green spotlight. As he approaches the device he says, “Xbox on,” and as the console spins to life he talks about the tough year Microsoft has had and how they are now completely focused on gaming for the Xbox One. To this they have a major announcement and then he utters the words:
“Xbox, play Mario Kart.”
A stunned crowd watches as a title screen for Mario Kart 8: Xbox One Edition fires up. Shigeru Miyamoto emerges into the spotlight playing the game and the two parties shake hands while Shigeru starts up a playable build of the game.
That definitely isn’t going to happen and neither is the announcement of another price drop, but instead we get a games-focused presentation focused on the words “We are listening now.” This will follow the existing Microsoft E3 presentation with a few surprises. I imagine it will go a bit like this:
- A long look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by the reveal that the downloadable content will continue to appear first on the Xbox One.
- In a move designed to get consumers to go digital and add value to their Xbox Live Gold program, Microsoft also announces that Xbox Live Gold gamers who purchase digital titles will get a discount on all digital purchases (including new games).
- We get word on some new features for Xbox Live Gold, including a lot of the features that Microsoft was promising last year before the entire internet went mental over DRM. A family-sharing program for digital games will be the center of these features along with clear and consistent messaging about how the program works.
- The first Halo 5 gameplay footage, along with footage of Halo remakes. Since Microsoft has already announced that Halo 5 won’t be coming out this year, I imagine we’ll get the rumored remakes this November to fill the gap in their release schedule.
- Microsoft trots out a bunch of new information about the upcoming DLC packages for Titanfall.
- A metric ton of info and gameplay footage from Sunset Overdrive. I imagine we’ll also get a firmer release date in the October/November 2014 timeframe.
- Microsoft introduces one or two new franchises geared towards core gamers. At least one of them will be a platformer.
- We get an official announcement of Crackdown 3, replete with a good chunk of gameplay footage.
- A boatload of new indie games. Microsoft is going to pull a big page from the 2013 Sony playbook with a heavy focus on independent game developers and their ID@Xbox program.
- Microsoft announces Cortana for Xbox One. This is a port of the "Siri-like" functionality Microsoft released for Windows Phone last year, and it gives Xbox One users with a Kinect the ability to look up information via the personal digital assistant.
- It will be short, but Microsoft will announce some new apps for the Xbox One, including HBO Go. HBO Go might even be a short-term exclusive.
- Microsoft announces a price cut on the Xbox 360 down to $150 and we get some word on some new indie titles coming to the Xbox 360.
- The closer will be the first tease of the new Gears of War game (similar to what Microsoft did for Halo 5 last year) with a coming-in-2016 release date.
I have modest expectations for Microsoft this year as I think we’ll get a lot of new games and a lot of attempts to court the favor of the core audience. I do think there’s an outside chance that Phil Spencer, head of Xbox division and Microsoft Studios, comes in and blows the doors off the place with a ton of new game announcements. We’ll find out together on June 9.
Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.