How did Xbox do? The UK games industry delivers its verdict

You know what we thought about Microsoft’s 2015 E3 press conference (spoiler: It was good), but what about the rest of the games industry?

We asked leading figures in retail, development and publishing to deliver their analysis of Microsoft’s epic E3 showcase.

Here is what they said:

A strong and confident showing from the guys in Redmond,” said Alex Ward, head of Three Fields Entertainment and former boss at Criterion. Phil Spencer sounds like a credible leader. Backwards compatibility is a huge win for consumers with extensive games libraries. Internal titles looked visually stronger than third party. Could be DX12 related. Undecided about the Rare offerings. A good showing for independent developers from ex-Next Generation Editor Chris Charla. It’s clear these guys are passionate gamers.”

Andy Payne, MD of Mastertronic, was bowled over by the new technology on show: Wow. They had to up their game, and they did by a factor of ten. Hololens and Minecraft lived up to the hype and that could be a killer app. I hope so, I have heard great things from those who have seen it behind closed doors at MS HQ

Working with Valve on VR is a great move too and shows that they are up for collaboration which is vital nowadays in my view. Given they are both based in Seattle, surely this will make the Xbox One a whole load stronger. Backwards compatibility proves that they listened, the devil will always be in the detail of course, but it is a great move for gamers who owned 360s.”

"Xbox had to up their game, and they did so by a factor of 10."

– Andy Payne, Mastertronic

It was the backwards compatibility that most impressed SuperData’s Joost Van Dreunen. It offers a strong incentive for currently undecided consumers to get an Xbox One, especially in combination with its larger cross-platform offering between the Xbox One, PC and virtual reality,” he says.

What stood out for me was the apparent bridge Microsoft is building with Valve around VR. And, of course, the line-up of exclusives, while not surprising, is really convincing.”

Will Freeman, freelance journalist for Eurogamer, Edge, Develop and The Observer was delighted to see indie games given a moment to shine. Microsoft pleasantly surprised me and offered a truly encouraging showing. HoloLens was certainly tremendously exciting, and while there’s a few tech questions around issues like field of view and pixel darkening, I’m sure it has the potential to host some brilliant titles and interesting gaming forms.

"But all that said, my game of E3 2014 – Studio MDHR’s 1930s’ styled run ‘n’ gun Cuphead – was today the most enticing thing for me personally at the Xbox 2015 presser. That may just reflect my tastes, but… well… 2014 was a year ago.”

Fellow freelance journalist Matt Kamen was also impressed with backwards compatibility and Hololens, but thought EA’s appearance was a down point.

EA Access announcement seemed to get a sympathy cheer more than anything – there was an almost tangible level of "so what?" from the audience.”

"EA Access announcement seemed to
get a sympathy cheer more than anything."

– Matt Kamen, freelance journalist

Analyst Piers Harding-Rolls of IHS had a lot of praise for Microsoft’s event, feeling it was the most impressive conference they’ve put together in a long while.

Microsoft’s press event revealed a mixture of content, platform functionality and peripherals built to drive Xbox 360 users to upgrade to Xbox One and positioned to undermine Sony’s momentum in the market,” he said.

There were a few genuine surprises – backwards compatibility for Xbox One, a new Elite controller for competitive gamers and HoloLens support for the full version of Minecraft – and the traditional Xbox gamer will be very pleased today. There is also no doubt that Microsoft’s strength of offering will help its position in the market against Sony’s PS4.

He continues: Microsoft believes its main competitor to the Xbox One is the older Xbox 360, as users have not been driven to upgrade yet as they wait for better games. IHS acknowledges that this is a particularly relevant factor in a number of country markets but that PlayStation’s more competitive offering compared to last generation is also a major factor.

"The large collection of exclusive games on show was positioned to break through this migratory challenge.”

Meanwhile, The Hut Group’s Mike Fethers feels the backwards compatibility will play a big role in convincing 360 games to stick with Xbox.

Microsoft are making up for lost ground from last year’s show, backwards compatibility will make the buying decision easier to those who were waiting to see what to do with their Xbox 360 Game collection,” he said.

Hololens also before looked awesome, you could see that more people saw the opportunity.”

Andy Tudor, the creative director at Slightly Mad Studios liked Microsoft’s line-up of games, but was a bit disappointed not to learn more about the new IPs it showed.

"Xbox’s E3 Briefing was strong this year – everything felt epic from the Man Of Steel music being used to open the show to the focus on mascots – Marcus, Lara, Master Chief. It felt BIG. Halo Warzone, the Elite controller, Gears 4, Rainbow Six Siege, The Division all covered the hardcore perspective where you and your buddies will be fighting co-operatively and competitively online taking things very seriously, whilst Rise of the Tomb Raider, Dark Souls 3, Fallout 4 provided the single-player titles you’ll want to cosy up on the couch with.

"Beyond that though, there were a few titles that little info was given on – so far – Recore looked good but what genre was the game? Is Ashen Microsoft’s equivalent of Journey? Is Ion their equivalent of No Man’s Sky? If a little more info had been given on them they would have felt like absolute must-have Xbox purchases."

"Recore looked good but what genre was the game?
Is Ashen Microsoft’s equivalent of Journey?
Is Ion their equivalent of No Man’s Sky?"

– Andy Tudor, Slightly Mad Studios

Gavin Price, the head of the team at Yooka-Laylee developer Playtonic, enjoyed seeing the Rare titles.

"We’re delighted to see so many of the teams past works being re-released on the Rare Replay boxset, including Yooka-Laylee’s spiritual predecessors of course! [Banjo Kazooie] There’s plenty there to whet the appetite for what we’re doing now and in the future," he said.

‘I thought it was great to see that Indie’s still matter – kudos for Microsoft for sharing the stage with multiple indies and acknowledging the role they play in a healthy, varied lineup. Up until the indies came on I think it was something like 8 out of the first 10 games previewed involved guns or shooting in some manner.

He continued: "Xbox’s conference was a crowd pleaser for XBOX fans – lots of favourite First Party franchises each returning for their fourth, fifth and sixth iterations – excluding spin-offs – and of course backwards compatibility will help the second wave of customers look

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