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.
It’s probably ever so slightly late for us to have a best and worst or winners and losers of E3 post but it’s my hobbie so I’m going to do it a bit late to be of much use to anyone. Well, that’s not strictly true. The shortest wait until a major game from E3 comes out is some three months so that means that there is plenty of time for us to reflect on the state of gaming in the wake of the biggest games industry show of 2015.
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.
Two years ago, then-Xbox division boss Don Mattrick said “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards” claiming that only 5% of users used new consoles to play games from a past generation of consoles. It’s funny how much things can change in two years.
While Microsoft might not have had a mind-blowing press conference in terms of new reveals, they certainly scored more than their fair share of points with hardware announcements. The biggest of those announcements was that Microsoft would be rolling out backwards compatibility of Xbox 360 games on Xbox One.
The first of the Monday press conferences was also the first from a console manufacturer. With Microsoft clawing back ground in the current generation console wars, this year’s E3 is the green brand’s opportunity to regain the lead over PlayStation that they had in the PS3/360 generation.
So from Microsoft’s keynote, we have a total of 16 trailers from triple-A and indie games alike for you to watch and get hyped over. They even pulled off a few unexpected third-party coups by getting Dark Souls 3 (From Software is often at Sony press conferences) and Mad Max (featured in Sony’s 2014 E3 presser). That doesn’t mention getting the first official announcement of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.