Another edition of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, has come and gone. While there was a lot of hype going into E3, I feel as though the buzz during and after E3 was a little muted in comparison to years past. That’s not to say that there were a few surprises and high points from this year’s week of E3 fun and frivolity. So let’s look back at the best and worst of E3 2016.
Just when you thought that Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere program was going to force you to play PC games through the questionable functionality of the Microsoft Store, Phil Spencer and his gamer sensibilities come through to save the day. On a Giant Bomb live stream, Spencer confirmed that Microsoft would bring PC games back to Steam.
The Microsoft Kinect has been a bit of a laughing stock since it first launched. There weren’t many games that supported it, apart from voice commands, and those that did suffered from a variety of issues that made using a Kinect more of a detriment than a boost to gaming. People rolled their eyes when the Kinect was packaged with the Xbox One with launch and was planned to be required to be connected for the system to work. That was dialed back to the point where the Kinect was no longer sold with the Xbox One.
This week, Microsoft unveiled the second iteration of the Xbox One console, the Xbox One S. The Kinect has fallen so far down Microsoft’s priority list that the One S will require a special adaptor to plug the Kinect into the console.
One of the recurring themes of the Xbox press briefing on Monday was that games that are Xbox One exclusive will also be exclusive on PC to Windows 10. For PC gamers who have upgraded to Windows 10, this was the press conference that they’ve been waiting for from Microsoft. However, there was another treat in store for PC gamers. Microsoft announced their new Xbox Play Anywhere program that allows gamers to buy a select game once and play it on both Xbox One and Windows 10.
Day Zero of E3 featured both of the big console manufacturers showing off their wares. Microsoft went first leading with the Xbox One S and taking about 90 minutes to kill it by announcing the Scorpio. In between that, they had a number of games to debut with a few games getting featured billing like Gears of War 4 and ReCore and a number of smaller games.
As is the current state of operations for the pre-E3 press conferences, Microsoft will be the first company out of the blocks on Monday. Their annual press conference has a few tasks this year. As always, they have to hype the games coming this fall for the holiday shopping season. More importantly, there’s the matter of the second-generation Xbox One that they have to sell without scaring off current Xbox One owners.
Much like Sony is working on a not insignificant upgrade to the PlayStation 4, it has been something of an open secret that Microsoft is working on an upgraded version of the Xbox One. What wasn’t known until this week was how much of an upgrade the next Xbox One would be but reports from Kotaku and Polygon suggest that the next Xbox, codenamed Scorpio, won’t just be a minor improvement to balance power with the PlayStation but blow it and the current Xbox One out of the water.
EA might be accused of being quite fond of Microsoft and Xbox as a result of Titanfall and EA Access not being available on PlayStation platforms but the feeling may not be quite as mutual following a recent EA investor call. EA CFO Blake Jorgensen told investors that the current-gen console install base was 55 million units through two years on sale. That info also accidentally let slip how many consoles each manufacturer has sold.
The last major market is now open for business to video game console manufacturers. After opening up console sales for those units made in a specified “free-trade zone” in Shanghai, the Chinese government has opened up the country further to home games consoles. Now, consoles manufactured anywhere in China will be allowed to be sold in the country.
From a gaming perspective, the big announcement at Microsoft’s E3 press briefing was that they are bringing backwards compatibility to the Xbox One. If you were looking for the next wave in technology and just general spectacle, Microsoft stole the show with a live on-stage demonstration of their HoloLens technology while playing Minecraft.