Catering to the Casual Crowd: How MS failed at E3 2010
All in all, as a lover of the X360, I felt significantly disappointed, in a dramatic way.
E3 has always been THE industry event prime for showcasing new hardware, services and of course games. Microsoft is not new to the showcase, remaining strong contenders since the announcement of the original Halo on Xbox in 2001. From the tech demo of Halo 2 in 2003 to the appearance of the first HD Gaming console in 2005. However, it is practically universally agreed that the Microsoft conference at E3 2010 had very little appeal to the fan base that the Xbox has worked so hard to amass. Alienation to some and sacrilege to others, the star of the show was Kinect; a motion control device.
The industry’s current infatuation with motion control gaming is openly seen as a clever (or not so clever) ploy to divert the attention of the “casual” gamer from Nintendo’s very successful Wii console. It has been common knowledge for some time now that both Sony and MS are developing their own approach to motion control gaming, the Move and Kinect respectively. But to take the world’s largest annual industry platform, at which many of gaming’s biggest showcases have occurred, and focus on this single, controversial piece of hardware as the centerpiece has left many fans, myself included, shaking their fist in the air and wondering what the heck happened.
First, we have the Natal imagined by Cirque de Soleil debut which, if you weren’t there, was not very “hardcore” and did focus on Kinect. Wireless, controller free game demos, which many believe were pre-rendered, saturated the performance. The next thing the world saw from Microsoft at the world’s biggest trade event was the Microsoft Press Conference, meant to focus mainly on Xbox 360 and its exclusive lineup, or so we thought. This showing could not have been too substantial for hardcore revealed to gamers very little because most of the content was already speculated or announced by MS themselves before hand. We knew we would hear from three of the Xbox’s ONLY exclusive secret weapons; Fable III, Gears of War III and Halo: Reach. Therefore, their presence brought very little excitement.
There was one new IP shown that got our attention as gamers for a brief moment, Codename: KINGDOMS, with no game-play or true promotion. This was quickly watered down for those of us at home who saw those covering the event immediately drawing comparisons between this and the God of War franchise. Eventually they revealed the Xbox 360 S (a.k.a. Slim) which did little to entice owners of functioning Xbox 360s. Another thing that worked against MS was the decision to demo Call of Duty: Black Ops, a multi-platform game for a longer period of time than most of their other showcases. Yes, there was talk of some timed exclusivity for the DLC (wouldn’t be MS without some) but this too was little to parade over since this deal has already been standard with bestseller Modern Warfare 2. All things considered, the Microsoft Press Conference was almost hard to watch. I had thought ahead of time that MS could show many strong new IPs and win E3 2010, but boy was I wrong.
The last thing I saw was the Kinect taking over the remainder of the Microsoft Press Conference which was just sad. Demos of games in which you pet tigers, ride rafts through a river, and exercise all shared a unified element; they excited the core gamer in absolutely no way, shape or form. I cringed when they showed Kinectimals. I scratched my head when I saw the running in place game and I literally had to leave the room when they showed the fitness title. The racing game in which you steer with your hands was easily the most hardcore-oriented title shown for Kinect. The dancing game really irked me though because everyone they brought out to play already knew the routines. I don’t see how one without knowledge of the dance steps prior would be able to play (dance) at that level of enjoyment and not make a few more mistakes along the way.
All in all, as a lover of the X360, I felt significantly disappointed, in a dramatic way. I am not too excited about any of the exclusives and as an overweight nerd, dork, geek, and gamer, I feel like I would never play with Kinect. Even a month after E3 I still feel pretty uncertain about the future of my beloved console of choice and I certainly hope MS has some announcements later in the year to prevent Xbox 360 from completely fail to satisfy in 2010, for the hardcore audience that is…