E3 2015: Microsoft sticks to its games, takes first shot of E3


Microsoft leads off E3 week with a strong showing in their media briefing Monday afternoon.

Going into their E3 media briefing, Xbox Vice President Phil Spencer promised that their focus this year was on first-party games.

To say that he nailed it would be a little bit of an overstatement, however Xbox took the stage Monday afternoon in Los Angeles and did what they set out to do: focus on their first-party games.

From opening up with Halo 5 Guardians and following up with a new exclusive IP in Recore, Xbox seemed to be right on track.

“These games makeup, what I think is the greatest lineup in Xbox history,” Spencer said after he finally took the stage following Recore’s presentation.

Xbox kept the focus on their first-party titles, exclusives and world-premieres as they presented Forza Motorsport 6, their new indie gaming program called ID@Xbox.

ID@Xbox was one of the several highlights during their conference. One indie title in particular that stood out was Cuphead, a side-scroller designed like a hand-drawn 1930’s cartoon.

Xbox also fired the first shot in their “war” against PlayStation when they announced that the Xbox One would be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games. The backward-compatibility will arrive during the holiday season.

“Last year, the team decided to tackle a feature that has consistently been at the top of your request list,” said Spencer. “Your Xbox 360 games, the games you’ve invested your time and money in, and the games you want to continue to play, will be playable natively on your Xbox One.

“With Xbox backward compatibility, we won’t charge you to play the games you already own.”

However, Microsoft started to lose some momentum in their presser when they brought out Fallout 4 after opening with back-to-back exclusives. They kept their fans alive and excited, showing off gameplay of their timed exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider.

The highlight of the show, however, wasn’t necessarily in their Oculus VR headset or Windows 10, but in their augmented reality headset HoloLens.

Xbox used Minecraft and a special lens for the camera to show off their new AR technology to the audience and it proved that it could be something that adds another level of immersion to games in the coming years.

They also debuted Xbox Game Preview, a program that allows some players to test out coming games and asks for their feedback to help improve the title before it launches and hits shelves. Xbox’s game-testing program released its first set of games shortly after the conference.

Towards the end, Xbox stuck with its big guns, showcasing Gears of War Ultimate Edition and showing gameplay of the upcoming Gears 4, which Xbox concluded their day with.

There were no surprises toward the end by Spencer or anyone, but Microsoft made their point clear in their 90 minutes on the stage — they’re placing the focus solely on content, particularly exclusives and first-party games. While Microsoft has big things coming out in Oculus VR, HoloLens and Windows 10 next month, they didn’t spend a lot of time on either of which, instead treating them as secondary items in their presentation compared to devices that could “revolutionize” the way that Xbox gamers play in the years to come.

Of course, in the end, Microsoft’s success or failure when it comes to E3 won’t be in the fan votes, or in tweets about their E3 media briefing, but in the holiday sales and their numbers in the first quarter of 2016. But it’s safe to say that Microsoft put them in a good position to close the gap between them and Sony.

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