Written by Paul Sahbaz and Photographs by Sean Chin
Coming into this year’s E3, I don’t think many were excited about what Microsoft had in store. The company had already ruled out a reveal of their next-generation platform that’s rumoured to be codenamed Durango and it’s clear that they’re slowly shifting their focus away from the first generation of pre-Kinect 360 owners who crave more “traditional” game experiences. As a corporate move this is smart, those enthusiast gamers bought a 360 ages ago, now it’s time to broaden the base and pick up some of those people who have gotten tired of Wii Sports and want something different.
Personally, I can honestly say that the Xbox 360 was my favourite console during this or any generation and, coming from a die-hard Nintendo fan, that is quite some praise indeed. Last year’s conference felt like an abandonment of everything that made me fall in love with Microsoft as a console manufacturer. Kinenct was really cool tech but it didn’t really improve the games I cared about, and while stuff like Facebook and Twitter on my 360 is nifty, I bought this thing for games and Microsoft seemed to forget that. This year was really no different, services like Xbox Music, Internet Explorer and “me-too” tech like smart glass took away from the focus on games that appeal to enthusiast gamers who actually care about and follow events like E3. Like I said earlier, It’s smart to attract more casual gamers with the likes of Usher and Dance Central but those people weren’t watching E3. Wii Fit was a huge boon for Nintendo but as an E3 2008 showcase it got the company laughed off stage. Microsoft just didn’t get the audience it was presenting to. Of course, those core gamers were thrown a few bones to gnaw on. The Halo 4 trailer was impressive and the new South Park RPG and Call of Duty properly stimulated one’s nerd glands. However, even on this front Microsoft was somewhat underwhelming at least to me. Many gamers I know, including myself are suffering from chronic shooter fatigue and an endless parade of Halos, Gears of Wars, and Call of Dutys cause more fits of vomiting than they do excitement. It’s like being offered a delicious rack of ribs right after stuffing yourself at an all you can eat buffet, no thank you, I don’t care if it’s glazed with the nectar of the gods. Where’s the cool experiential stuff? Where are Microsoft’s own first party studios like Rare? Working on next-gen games no doubt.
In the long run, few will remember Microsoft’s 2012 showing in the years to come unless it’s to remark on how bland it was or that Usher was there. In fact, I don’t even think people will remember it by the end of the week. It’s obvious that Microsoft has internally moved on to Durango and is preparing the next era of Xbox. We probably won’t get a taste of that until next E3. Until then, I’m content on playing the last few remaining games I care about and using the box to stream Netflix.