Microsoft E3 2013 Press Conference Review

Microsoft bring their A game to E3, and hit the ball out of the park.

Posted By | On 10th, Jun. 2013 Under Article, Feature

Bravo, Microsoft. You brought it. You brought your A game this time.

In what was arguably Microsoft’s best press conference since their memorable 2003 showing, where they debuted Halo 2, Microsoft went all in, focusing on nothing but the games, above all else. The show was a tour de force, an exercise in focused E3 presentations, moving swiftly from one major game announcement to the next.

After the massive backlash from the Xbox One announcement, as well as the backlash from Microsoft’s ‘clarifications’ regarding DRM, Kinect, always online, and used game sales from a couple of days ago, they really needed a breather. They needed some positive momentum.

Today’s showing, which focused on nothing but games, games, and more games, was just that.

Halo for the Xbox One.

Let’s back up, though. Let’s start at the beginning. Microsoft chose to kick the conference off by showing us Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. You really can’t go wrong with that kind of a start. The game, predictably enough, looked incredible, and beautiful in motion. That already set the tone- this conference would have no Kinect bullshit, no TV and Xbox Live apps.

And yes, that tone was what they lived up to. After a brief, slightly awkward talk with Kojima, and a minor sales pitch, Microsoft went ahead and revealed the new Xbox 360 model, smaller, slimmer, modeled on the Xbox One, and available immediately. That was followed by an announcement of an actual, honest improvement to Xbox Live- Gold subscribers would now get two free games every month starting next month, and those games would be theirs to keep forever. Halo 3 and Assassins Creed II are kicking this service off.

World of Tanks trailer.

Following this, we had a minor detour with some upcoming Xbox 360 exclusives- a new exclusive platformer, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, the announcement of hit PC sensation World of Tanks for Xbox 360, and then a look at Dark Souls II. Following this, we were in Xbox One land, where Microsoft proceeded to show one great exclusive after another.

From the ones they announced back in May (Forza 5, Quantum Break) which were shown off more in detail, to the new game announcements (Ryse: The Son of Rome, reborn yet again for the Xbox One, and looking like an excellently done action game; Killer Instinct, the return of the beloved classic franchise for the Xbox One, looking as intense as ever; Sunset Overdrive, a new open world, highly stylized shooter by Insomniac; Dead Rising 3, the third entry in Capcom’s other zombie action series, looking as gleefully fun as always; Project Spark, which looked like an intriguing level creation tool/game, in the vein of LittleBigPlanet; D4, a new ‘episodic murder mystery’ by Swerey65; a new Panzer Dragoon game, which looked great, in spite of the botched presentation; a new Black Tusk Studios game that looked a lot like Splinter Cell; a new Halo game that looked… different… from everything that has come before; and Respawn’s great looking new shooter, TitanFall), they made a damned good case for gamers of all persuasions to seriously consider the Xbox One.

witcher 3_directX11

In addition to that were the multiplats. Apart from the aforementioned Metal Gear Solid V and Dark Souls II, they also showed us Minecraft (now coming to Xbox One too), The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (our first look at the game, and it looks stunning), and Battlefield 4, which looked eye bleedingly good (and will, of course, get exclusive DLC first on Xbox One). This was in addition to the many other multiplats they mentioned in passing, including the Xbox 360 ones such as Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and Grand Theft Auto V (yes, they mentioned it just in passing. That happened).

Really, it was all very well done. The marketing jargon like ‘infinite power of the cloud,’ and ‘unique experiences’ was kept to a minimum, and the focus was squarely on games, and more games. When they talked about services, like when they did about Xbox Live, it was in relation to games. All they talked about was games, and they showed off a diverse amount, ranging across genres. In terms of quantity and quality, they were set.

Killer Instinct Trailer.

The only two things actually wrong with this conference itself were the technical errors that kept happening (first with Panzer Dragoon, then with Battlefield 4, which actually led to the EA guy being booed off the stage), and then Microsoft’s announcement of the price. $499 for a console is already too much- remember the PS3 debacle?- but for a product as fundamentally anti consumer and unappealing as the Xbox One, it is highway robbery, especially when additive costs like Xbox Live Gold fees are considered. It was the one low point in their conference; they really should have priced it better, especially in light of all the bad press it is getting.

In the end, though, what this conference will be remembered for will be games over everything else. No dancing, no Usher, no sports or TV, no Xbox Live apps, no Kinect. Just a focus on the fundamentals, and what matters.

Good job, Microsoft. Now the Xbox One actually matters again, at least in terms of what matters.

The Good:

Focus squarely on games, and nothing more. The games they did show off all uniformly looked incredible, and made a great case for why Xbox One should be considered by gamers.

The Bad: 

The price is too high, almost unreasonably so; technical glitches in the conference galore


Good job, Microsoft. Now the Xbox One actually matters again, at least in terms of what matters.

Score: 8.5/10

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