So here we are almost a year on from the PR disaster that was Microsofts 2013 E3 conference. A lot has happened since the biggest talking point beyond policy was the actual console launch. In November 2013 the Xbox one console hit shelves amongst all the hate the internet could throw at it some just and some simply not. Mr Don has left and in has stepped the peoples choice Mr Phil Spencer to head up the future direction of the platform.
With everything Microsoft has done over the past year to win back fans and overturn the views of its doubters it’s clear to see it still has some work to do. As a 360 owner I jumped straight to Xbox One in November when it launched. I had followed every policy U turn and hung on nearly every scrap of news coming out of Redmond on how they were going to gain back some of that momentum Sony were simply storming ahead with. I watched and read all about the never ending frame rate debates and which console was going to win or in some minds there was already a winner 3 months in to a very long life cycle. I have always been a supporter of the console but this past year has really seen me question my loyalty to the platform and put simply if it wasn’t for the greater variety in triple AAA games on the platform I most certainly would be spending my main gaming time on the PS4.
Thankfully 2014 has been more positive so far for the Xbox Team. We have had xbox One exclusive Titanfall release amongst much hype and thankfully it did not disappoint with fast and fresh takes on the FPS genre and Respawn deserve a lot of credit for producing such a feat with their relatively small studio team. With that came a succession of platform updates that were badly needed. In many areas the Xbox one was simply broken at launch, from parties to game organisation it’s was a platform in need of some serious fixing and all evidence pointed to this console being released well before it was ready. All being sad Microsoft have made the right moves in recent months they have engaged with their gaming community and released the update preview program and implemented many of the suggestions across each months updates. Twitch integration stole a march on Sony where their platform at the time was considered to much inferior in terms of stream quality and the inability to archive your streams, their most recent update has changed that.
The example of Twitch is key as it is the evidence that states both platforms must be steadfast in their delivery for the consumer to keep on top this generation. Long update cycles will not wash with the overly demanding consumers and one platform can’t afford to be seen out the loop.
So what do Microsoft need to deliver at this years E3 to regain pole position from their arch rivals?
Get it clear
E3 2013 was a failure for one simple reason they introduced controversial policies regarding DRM, online connectivity amongst others without explaining clearly enough why this was in the consumers best interest. The vision Xbox had will come this generation and the initial policies were great but so badly proposed and marketed they had no choice but to reverse them. Gold sharing for Family was ingenious and would have really changed how we share our games. Online only with no discs would have brought us closer to the Steam style world PC users are so in love with but again sticking with physical discs impacts this hugely.
With Phil Spencer at the helm we can expect to see some new IPs as he has clearly stated this year is all about the games. So what style of new IP do we think Microsoft will bring to the table.
There is a gap in Microsofts first party lineup for a great single player adventure series, Sony have dominated here with Uncharted, the last of us, infamous and soon to be the Order. Microsoft need to reveal this and please don’t let Fable be the only thing close to that Genre!
It’s dogged it ever since launch and retailers in many countries are already discounting it heavily to move units. It’s clear gamers don’t see the value in Kinect after all only a few titles utilise it and gamers will need to have a huge play space to enjoy any titles on it. We suspect Microsoft will bring the price down in several ways.
-The standalone box will be moved to £350 directly competing with the PS4 and will include one years Xbox Live Gold membership will still include Kinect.
– Bundles will be back Xbox One will come bundled for £380 including either your choice of Forza 5 or Titanfall digital downloads.
– Gamer Bundle introduced for £430 includes Xbox One with Kinect, two controllers, Titanfall, 2 ID@Xbox titles and a years subscription to Xbox Live with Gold.
We don’t think a kinect less version will come anytime soon.
Games with Gold
Microsoft will relaunch games with gold at E3 tailored to those on Xbox One and directly competing with Sonys PSPlus.
– Games with gold will include one Xbox One title and 2 titles for Xbox 360.
– First Xbox One game with games for Gold will be RYSE.
– Will begin in July and add weight to announced bundles.
– Xbox One titles will alternate between ID@Xbox and triple AAA titles.
– Xbox 360 to continue to be supported with games that are newer within 18months.
– Xbox Gold members will get this service for free
Suspect Microsoft to go big on this if external hard drive support is announced and is non limited. Digital is where gaming is going and we think Microsoft will drive this over the next few years. Expect announcements around retail to digital price parity.
– Gamers will be able to pre order and pre load upcoming titles
– The ability to purchase via the smart glass app.
– Digital purchasing can be stored on both internal and external drives.
– intention for more PSN style pricing with gold members getting further discounting.
– more Steam like structure the ability to gift games will be made available.
TV TV TV
Microsoft have already announced their intentions around TV and don’t think for one minute stage time will be used to talk anymore about this, however what we do think will happen is that games with gold will also feature a TV element. Perhaps original content will be free for Xbox Gold viewers for the first 3 months of membership. Beyond this discounted prices for gold members on any future episode or season pass purchases.
Here are some of the predictions we have with regards to games, note for most of these we have nothing else to go on but our own passion for these to be a reality.
– We will see a trailer announcing Mass Effect 4 from Bioware
– Expect The Division to be showcased with gameplay and exclusive content
– Remedy will share more about story and gameplay with stage demo for quantum break.
– Crytek to announce exclusive new IP with additional RYSE story DLC.
– Forza Horizon 2 will be announced with Xmas 2014 release.
– Halo for Xbox One. Trailer with 2015 date. Halo 2 anniversary edition announced for 2014.
– Rare will revive old IP Conkers bad fur day for Xbox One
– Sledgehammer to showcase next Call of Duty with gameplay demo.
– At least 5 ID@Xbox games are announced.
– The Sims 4 is announced for Xbox One
– Diablo 3 plus DLC announced for Xbox One
– Gears of war teaser trailer with no date and little of any info.
– Evolve gets stage demo announcing exclusive Xbox One content
– Xbox exclusive Fable gets release date and full stage demo
– Xbox announce exclusivity deal on Star Wars Battlefront with gameplay reveal.
– Press Play to reveal another Xbox One exclusive
– Killer Instinct season 2 announced.
So there are our top predictions for E3 and what we believe Microsoft need to do to really erase the past year and gain that momentum on Sony and their PS4. Let us know your thoughts or your predictions in the comments below.