Impressions from The E3 2014 Press Conferences: Microsoft

E3 2014 is off to a start at Los Angeles, and Microsoft was the first to kick things off on Monday with the big press conferences. Showing off a number of its big upcoming titles like Sunset OverdriveFable Legends, and third-party games like Dragon Age: InquisitionCall of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, Microsoft had plenty to offer to make its console a showcase for games – but, was it enough?

While currently in attendance at E3 2014, DualShockers’ staff had their own opinions of each of the press conferences (so far), and this time we’ll break down the highlights, the lowlights, and the just-plain awesomeness that was present at Microsoft’s E3 press conference.

Tony Polanco (Staff Writer): 

Microsoft did a lot of things at their press conference but messing around wasn’t one of them. As soon as Phil Spencer hit the stage he promised wall to wall games, and that’s exactly what was delivered. With a presentation that showcased both first party and third party games, Microsoft definitely set the bar high for this year’s pressers.

While I knew that the Kinect wouldn’t be as prominent this year as it was in the past, it was still interesting that it wasn’t mentioned AT ALL. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the peripheral wasn’t exactly a fan favorite. Now that the Xbox One won’t come bundled with the Kinect, it really doesn’t make much sense to talk about it. This is huge shift from previous years where you may as well have called these “Kinect Konferences.”

Even though the Xbox One officially costs $399 as of today, this wasn’t mentioned either. This news was a category-5 megaton bomb when it was announced, and MS knew that this news would have overshadowed anything they would have announced at their show – hence, why they announced it week ago. Still, I think a quick “Xbox One, now for $399” should have been dropped by someone on stage.

As far as games go, they had a few first party games like Sunset Overdrive, Fable Legends and a new Crackdown. What we saw were a lot of third party games with timed DLC which will hit the Xbox One first. These include Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, The Division, Evolve and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Microsoft may have switched gears with the Kinect and DRM, but definitely not with buying timed exclusives.

Microsoft has definitely learned how to eat humble pie as this conference has clearly demonstrated. The company has learned a hard and bitter lesson and they are now all about pleasing gamers and not about shoving peripherals and apps down their throats. While it is technically backpedalling, this is in the interest of their customers and will ultimately end up benefiting the Xbox brand in the long run.

Ryan Meitzler (Staff Writer):

Coming into this year’s E3, Microsoft was already caught between a rock and a hard place. Last year’s E3 put a big bullseye on them after their numerous announcements with the Xbox One that rubbed many gamers the wrong way: flash forward one year later, and most of those announcements now no longer apply to the system any more: Kinect is out of the way, online-only functionality is gone, and the system is now $399.

With Sony boasting of their success with the PS4, E3 2014 was the big chance for Microsoft to rebound and show that Xbox One was just as capable, and noteworthy, of a system as Sony’s competitor. After Microsoft took the stage at E3 with its press conference of titles releasing this year and showing what’s to come, the company definitely seems to be in a much better place than it was a year ago, even if it was evident during a conference that very much played it safe.

Unlike last year’s “all-in-one” focus on the Xbox One reveal with its powers as a media center-type device, Microsoft’s conference this year spent 95% of its focus on games, a big change (and a much needed one) following last year’s reveal. Little was mentioned on Microsoft’s plans for live action TV series, and NOTHING was mentioned for Kinect or the system’s recent $399 price drop that went in effect today across the nation. Instead, the conference was a games-driven one that showed the stable of what Xbox One has to offer in the next year, and beyond.

Many of the usual suspects showed up at Microsoft’s press conference, with the show bringing some new trailers (and snippets of gameplay) for several upcoming titles like Halo 5: Guardians, Fable Legends, Sunset Overdrive, and even a few surprise inclusions like Dragon Age: Inquisition. Included among the pack were plenty of newly-revealed titles, like a revival of the long-dormant Phantom Dust, Rise of the Tomb Raider, the crazy Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 DLC, monster-hunting Scalebound, and a brand new next-gen Crackdown.

Microsoft’s big win at the press conference though was not only showing a solid selection of first-party exclusives, but bolstering that with a renewed fervor in indie game support alongside a host of “second-party” titles that will notably act as “exclusives” for the company, especially with timed-exclusive DLC deals for many titles.

Accompanying nearly every trailer shown at that conference was a tag for “New content first on Xbox,” showing that Microsoft is heavily investing into building exclusive partnerships with developers, and it showed at their conference. With DLC that will be coming first for titles like Evolve, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and The Division, what Microsoft may lack in first-party exclusives compared to Sony, it is proving to more than make up for with their exclusive content and “second-party” exclusives that will be tied to Xbox One, a strategy that already has proven itself year after year with Call of Duty.

Microsoft’s conference overall was safe: it didn’t cause a huge outcry like last year’s event, but notably the event didn’t contain quite the bombshells that might have been expected to be shown (the new Gears of War, the long-rumored Fallout 4), but what was there showed Microsoft is looking to expand on its game selection and refocus their console on what matters the most.

With promising exclusives like Sunset Overdrive and Fable Legends coming by the year’s end alongside a new crop of indie titles like Playdead’s Inside and Capybara’s Below, it was a notably less-explosive show for Microsoft this year, but one that provided a pretty secure future for Microsoft and Xbox One and their stable of upcoming games.

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