One Year Later, Did Microsoft Live Up To Their Promises At E3 2015?

Just how well does Microsoft’s E3 showing from last year hold up now?

Posted By | On 21st, May. 2016 Under Article, Editorials | Follow This Author @Pramath1605

Microsoft’s show at E3 last year was a very interesting one- they put on an atypically strong showing, and in any other year, it would have been easy to crown them the ‘winner’ of E3 without much hesitation. Their entire presentation was tightly paced, and seemed to suggest Microsoft was doubling down on its first party and exclusive output- as a matter of fact, multiple games were announced for the Xbox One, and for a while, it seemed as though Microsoft was finally taking the years of criticism to heart, and starting to work on their stable of games and franchises. After a few dark years under Don Mattrick, where it seemed as though Microsoft was losing interest in the Xbox as a gaming platform, and were more interested in it as a Trojan horse for their other ventures – admittedly the reason the Xbox was made in the first place – at the time, last year served as an encouraging reminder that Microsoft were perhaps looking to make the Xbox a viable gaming platform on its own again, quite like the original Xbox, or the early Xbox 360 days.

The promises Microsoft made were explicit, a lot of them- they promised that the Xbox One would have ‘the best lineup in Xbox history’ that year, citing upcoming exclusives like Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Fable Legends, Rare Replay, Forza Motorsport 6, and Halo 5: Guardians. They promised multiple third party games, such as Dark Souls 3 and Fallout 4. They announced new Xbox One games for beyond 2015, including new IPs like ReCore and Sea of Thieves, as well as the long anticipated Gears of War 4– and two of those were promised to be Xbox exclusive. They debuted HoloLens, their fancy augmented reality headset that set imaginations the world over on fire. They debuted the new Xbox One Elite controller. And they unveiled backwards compatibility for the Xbox One, promising 100 Xbox 360 games running on Xbox One by the end of the year.

A year later, on the cusp of another E3, just how well did they do? Did they come through with their promises, or did they falter? Most importantly, the implicit promise that was made at E3 last year – Microsoft doubling down on Xbox as a gaming platform, and renewing their commitment to it, by expanding their portfolio of exclusive games, and offering multiple services that enhanced the gaming experience on Xbox One – was it honored? Or did Microsoft go back on that, eventually?

Ubisoft Xbox 360 to Xbox One

"At the time, last year served as an encouraging reminder that Microsoft were perhaps looking to make the Xbox a viable gaming platform on its own again."

It’s easier to judge their more ‘explicit’ promises, so let’s discuss those first. Multiple games that Microsoft announced for a 2015 launch did in fact launch last year- this included previously announced titles such as Halo 5: Guardians, as well as new announcements, such as Forza Motorsport 6, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, and Rare Replay. All of these games did in fact launch last year on the Xbox One. Third party games that were shown off, such as Dark Souls 3, Fallout 4, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, and Rainbow Six Siege all launched on the Xbox One- including with extra benefits on Xbox One, where promised, such as a free copy of Fallout 3 with the Xbox version of Fallout 4, and a free copy of Dark Souls with the Xbox version of Dark Souls 3– all thanks to the Xbox One’s newfound backwards compatibility. ‘These games make what I believe is the best lineup in Xbox history,’ Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said on stage last year- and while one can argue as to the accuracy of that statement, the fact is that most of the games that Microsoft promised as part of that lineup, they delivered on.

Speaking of that backwards compatibility, that was definitely one area where Microsoft came through, and did what they promised- the backwards compatibility works, with all the features that were advertised, and Microsoft committed to having 100 Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One by the end of the year, something they accomplished with ease (and the list continues to grow even today). Microsoft promised to use the new backwards compatibility of the Xbox One to improve their Xbox Live Games with Gold offerings- again, something that they did. And most importantly, Microsoft promised that ‘with Xbox One backwards compatibility, we won’t charge you to play the games you already own’– which is another promise that they delivered on.

So a lot of what Microsoft said last year, they accomplished, and they should definitely be given credit for that- they certainly managed to follow up on their promises more than their competition (but more on that next week).

forza 6 october car pack 3

"A lot of what Microsoft said last year, they accomplished, and they should definitely be given credit for that."

Of course, their track record is not spotless, and they did, in fact, renege on quite a few of the promises that they made. Some of these were not relatively as major – ReCore was announced for Spring of this year (in the Xbox conference video, see timestamp 13:55), a release window it looks all but set to miss (but game delays happen all the time, so it is hard to hold this against Microsoft too much, unless this becomes the next The Last Guardian).

Their other misses were far bigger, however- for instance, a major part of Microsoft’s ‘best lineup in Xbox history’ last year was Fable Legends, a game that they maintained right until the end of the year would launch in 2015, before hastily delaying it to 2016 Spring right at the last moment, until… the game was cancelled without notice at the last possible moment, catching everyone off guard. Or how about the fact that games like Forza Motorsport 6 (see 34:30) or ReCore (see 11:15), which was explicitly defined as ‘Xbox exclusive’ (Microsoft especially draws a distinction between games only on Xbox, and games shared between PC and Xbox), making the jump to PC earlier this year? Or why not discuss the HoloLens shenanigans? The promising product, which it turns out we may not get to go hands on with for a while, thanks to Microsoft’s abrupt cancellation of its consumer release until further notice earlier this year?

Xbox One Elite

"In the end, that is the legacy of Microsoft’s E3 showing last year- promises kept in word, yes, but the larger point missed, the larger picture distorted."

The biggest broken ‘promise’ however is one that was never made- not explicitly, anyway. But the fact of the matter remains, one of the reasons that Microsoft’s E3 showing was received as well as it was last year was that it was an implicit mending of the bridges from the company’s part- a promise that Microsoft were going to get serious about the Xbox as a gaming platform again, that they would double down with a diversified first party portfolio, and true exclusives for the platform. Less than a year later, that vision already lies in tatters, if indeed Microsoft were ever serious about it to begin with- less than a year later, Microsoft have closed down several first party studios, including a major one in Lionhead, have already had at least one major first party game cancellation, and started to publish almost all Xbox One exclusives on Windows 10 PCs themselves- with even games that were explicitly promised as Xbox One exclusives, such as Forza 6, ReCore, and Quantum Break, all getting Windows 10 versions, leaving a potential Xbox consumer, who either bought one last year after Microsoft’s show, or contemplated buying one, very confused and possibly betrayed. The lingering question now remains- what is the point of an Xbox One at all?

For a console with poorer third party support than the competition, exclusives become paramount to help make a compelling case for its existence- Nintendo understood this when they lost third party support to PlayStation in the Nintendo 64 era, and Sony understood this when they lost third party support to Xbox 360 with the PlayStation 3, and they both doubled down on first party games to keep their console’s appeal. Last year, it seemed as though Microsoft were going to act on this axiom, too, and in the process also finally answer the long held calls for them to bolster their first party. It was the strongest endorsement they could have made for their commitment to their own platform. And yet, just a year later, the Xbox One has become a small cog in a larger machine, with no true exclusives to give it an identity, and an even more truncated first party than what it had last year.

In the end, that is the legacy of Microsoft’s E3 showing last year- promises kept in word, yes, but the larger point missed, the larger picture distorted. Did Microsoft live up to their promises from E3 last year? They did, mostly- it’s just that the biggest promise that they made, that one was broken. As we go into E3 this year, we can probably be assured that what Microsoft announce, will in fact happen. However, especially after this past year, skepticism about the long term future of Xbox as a hardware platform is now more warranted than it ever was before.

You can check out the press conference here.

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  • Hvd

    yes they did and we will have an even better e3 this year.

    • Clint Hoffman

      It’s always good to have a great E3 even if it doesn’t mean anything… Lol

    • Hvd

      how is the fallout far harbor dlc running on the ps4 and pc oh yea like one runs

      enjoy you 1 exclusive every 12-14 months…lol

    • Agent_Blade

      Someone salty haha.

    • Hvd

      sony fan boys are…lol

  • drjonesjnr

    Yea it was just all lies. They haven’t had one exclusive game out all year,this year.
    Great article

    • Bad wolf

      every year Microsoft release 2 or 3 triple a games Quantum Break released before the overrated over hyped Uncharted and gears of war coming soon so sit down kid.

    • drjonesjnr

      QB not exclusive its on pc 🙁
      Don’t be salty about uncharted 4 a real ps4 exclusive which sits at 93 on metacritic and is critically acclaimed.

    • Surely you realize that Xbox One and Windows 10 are the same friggen thing? That’s still exclusive to Microsoft. Unless you’re aware of some “hack” to get Quantum Break and Forza running on a PS4, lol.

    • drjonesjnr

      Nope there two completely different platforms ?
      I don’t drink the Microsoft cool aid your clearly drinking

    • I didn’t need to drink any… it’s just called being educated on reality and facts. I love games on XB1, PS4, and PC… and if I can simply do the math and pay $70 for my XB1+PC copy and not have to rebuy or pay more… that’s just good value.

    • Terminator

      Don’t mind Trolljones here, he is a well know PS Troll who stalks Xbox articles to say BS. He doesnt drink the Microsoft cool aid as he said he drinks the PS Drone Troll cool aid instead…which is worse :’D

      Yes you can get some Microsoft games on two different platforms so they arent exclusives but those two platforms are owned by Microsoft, so yes some games may not be exclusives to to the Xbox One but they are still Microsoft exclusives and if you want to play them you either need an Xbox One or a PC with Windows 10 and use the Windows Store all owned by Microsoft.

    • drjonesjnr

      Lol gutted XD

    • Agent_Blade

      Damage control is strong with this one.

    • Terminator

      SayING the truth within me is what’s strong…can’t handle the truth is what’s strong in you.

    • Mr Xrat

      Looking forward to MS fanboys trying to push that meme over the next year and getting completely laughed at.

    • Well I’m okay of you you laugh at me, because I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank while I buy more games for less money. How many big games did Sony release this year? Actually, how would Sony fair if a similar article was written about them?

    • Mr Xrat

      Well I sure hope that cross-buy ends up being more meaningful than just Quantum Break. With any luck Gears 4 will be cross-buy, and buying the W10 version actually nets you the Xbone version this time as well.

      So far this year? Three. Three decent sized releases post-E3 last year too.

    • Agent_Blade

      There is nothing overrated or overhyped about Uncharted. If that’s the case I guess I can say the same about Halo 5 and Gear of War Remastered since you have that logic. You can say that about any critically acclaimed game.

    • Agent_Blade


  • Mark

    Well for me I’ve had (and still am having) alot of fun since last E3 on Xbox. Even if there’s some PC guys playin Qbreak & Tomb Raider, I’m a console gamer, so that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, including many of my friends. So for me, having run thru Tomb Raider on survival, and getting in tough and competitive matches in Halo 5 mp (which plays amazing from the mechanics of it), secured the Elite controller, and still got Qbreak in queue….I say that’s a dam good job by Microsoft. But with that said, they’ve dropped the ball by giving us close to nothing about ReCore, Crackdown, & Sea of Thieves. Really hope they won’t be pushed back, probably Crackdown tho.

    • I know, I’m really bummed about ReCore being delayed, but I’m still excited about it. Can’t wait to give it a go!

    • Mark

      Agreed! However I think Sea of Thieves & Crackdown has huge potential in terms of replay value, so we’ll see.

    • Agree!

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    • drjonesjnr

      Isn’t sea of thieves a free to play game and is coming out on pc to?

    • Mark

      It’s very likely a free to play yes. And 100% is being deved for PC.

    • drjonesjnr

      Exactly this is the problem Microsoft are giving people no reason to buy an xbox ive got a pc so I will just play it there if it turns out to be good.

    • Mark

      Well for console gamers, the X1 is the only place to play those games. And in fact, this behavior by them isn’t even new…..I agree if ur on PC, stay there & play Microsoft exclusives. But many console gamers will make the jump to the One for Gears & potentially others. But we’ll see…

    • drjonesjnr

      Nah the 360 had a lot of fully exclusives games.
      Microsoft are putting games on pc because the xbone Isn’t selling well and need a bigger audience to sell software to.
      Its a big reason the ps4 is dominating this gen.
      Exclusive games are a consoles identity Imo

    • Mark

      Ok this is turning into a pointless debate. I personally think the console who runs multiplats better usually wins. But hey I respect ur opinion and it’s likely that both exclusives matter & multiplats mainly. But my original statement is just a response to this opinion piece, and again I feel Microsoft lived up to their E3 presentation of what they’d offer us. That’s just me tho and it’s only one opinion, speaking as a console gamer haha

    • drjonesjnr

      Oh thats totally fine that all I’m here doing giving my opinion.
      But I think coming out on stage and saying QB is exclusive to the xbone to then announce a month before release its coming to pc aswell is very disingenuous.
      And also cancelling fable which was supposed to part of the greatest line up in xbox history was pretty poor aswell, so I say they delivered 50/50 with a few porky pies.

    • Mark

      Yeah that was bad for them to lie like that about Qbreak. I don’t like misleading stuff. However that didn’t take away from me getting the game u know. As for Fable yeah that was crazy how it just got shut down near release. That’s why I don’t hold any of these companies too high, I just get mine & mind ma business. But again man just being honest most of us Xbots really want a next gen Fable 4 lol. Legends was uggh, atleast imo. But regardless ur views are without a doubt valid and held by others too. All in all I’m lovin my X1 tho. Peace

    • drjonesjnr

      How can you be so excited about a game we have seen absolutely nothing about just a cgi trailer?

    • I could say the same thing about a lot of PlayStation games like Last Guardian. The gameplay demo at E3 last year was terrible, but I’m still excited to try it out… assuming it ever comes out. I told you elsewhere… I like games. Any platform. Any type. Not committed to buying until I’ve tried it or seen more info, but the graphics and info we have looked cool.

    • drjonesjnr

      You couldn’t mate they shown a gameplay demo not a cgi trailer 🙁

    • If you’re talking about ReCore, the video I saw must be different, because there was footage in it as well.

      Quit hating just to hate. You will be less agitated if you just enjoy the games. Have a good weekend!

    • drjonesjnr

      I’m not hating just posting my opinion.
      You replied to me after all.
      But no the record video shown no gameplay whatsoever it was just cgi.
      They shown actual gameplay of scale bound which looks good.

    • I’m looking forward to Scalebound as well. 🙂

  • kee1haul

    Why do my comments get deleted? Because I said the article was trash because it said the biggest broken promise was a promise they didn’t make?

  • xAUSTIN316x

    i would say no cause halo 5 was complete garbage, that fake halo game was by far the worst in the series

  • Truthhurts24

    Microsoft has done great with their promises far as console features are concerned but they have missed the mark on certain exclusives such as quantum break which could have really made an impact for the Xbox One . They also need more 3rd party support because the 360 had plenty from a variety of devs. I will also like for them to start releasing quality BC AAA classics such as red dead instead of indies and arcade games.

    • One With Shadows

      Oh they promised 792p?

    • Truthhurts24

      No they promised better games which they have done a better job at than Sony.

  • Riggybro

    Compared to itself – Xbox delivered.

    But overal, it just looked identical to any other Xbox year. Not too different from a 360 year really. Same types of games and gameplay. Not that that’s a bad thing for Xboxers.. it’s just not gonna win over any new converts.

  • Mr Xrat

    A slaughtered 2016 lineup, features that were completely oversold on the day of their announcement and a mediocre holiday lineup. Yep, they’ve sure been knocking it out of the park. Xbox Won.

    • Agent_Blade

      True. I think MS has done good in terms of features but I have to be honest in terms of exclusives, I have seen better.

      Halo 5 was a disappointment in many areas, Fable Legends didnt even look like a proper Fable game (was still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt) and now it’s cancelled, Gears Of War remastered was pretty good actually but it was just bumped up graphics and a short extra chapter that didn’t add much, Quantum Break was ok but certainly not a killer app, however Forza 6 amazing and a huge improvement over the lackluster Forza 5. We will see about Re-Core and Sea of Thieves.


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