Xbox at E3: What we expect, want and don’t want

E3 is only a few days away and in the run-up to the big event, we’re going to talk about the big two press conferences that are set to be held by Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo has, of course, announced that will not be hosting a traditional media briefing this year, and will instead conduct smaller events and online streams.

We start things off today with the company everyone is talking about in the lead-up to E3, most of it being unfortunately negative. Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One on 21st May and received a lot of flak for giving the console’s live TV and Kinect voice features prominence over the games. Microsoft now has its task cut out for it, and the only way it can erase all that bad press is to show up at E3 with a fantastic games line-up.

Here’s a list of the some of the things we expect, would like and wouldn’t like from Microsoft at E3

The promised Xbox One exclusives

At the Xbox One reveal, Microsoft promised it had 15 exclusive Xbox One games in development, eight of them being exclusives. We would like to see Microsoft show up with at least most of those exclusives at E3, if not all of them.

Core-focussed games

The moment Don Matrick mentioned 15 Xbox One exclusives, core gamers started questioning how many of those would be casual and Kinect games and how many would be for the core gamers i.e. the early adopters. Microsoft would do well to please this core audience with some system sellers.

Less focus on Live TV and entertainment/app features

Even before Xbox One was revealed, Microsoft has said how it will dedicate its E3 media briefing to talk about the games, but this being a Microsoft briefing, there’s still this niggling feeling that the company will use the platform to announce its TV and entertainment/app partnerships. We just hope they’re quick about it.

Cut the filler material

Microsoft has been notorious for spending way too much time during its press conferences on trying to create a spectacle – like Usher dancing to one of his Dance Central tracks, or the remnants of The Beatles introducing The Beatles edition of Rock Band, or performers from the Cirque du Soleil prancing about the stage. The E3 audience is primarily gamers, media, trade representatives, and analysts, and that’s really not what either of them wants to see.

Clarifications on DRM and used games policy

The biggest controversy coming out of the 21st May event has been Microsoft’s caginess around its always-on and used games policies. There’s also talk of a Kinect DRM that will detect the number of viewers in the room and charge for or block video content accordingly. The rumoured 24-hour online check-in DRM raises a lot of questions, not least of which is, what happens if I don’t check in? We’d also love for Microsoft to remove all ambiguity on its used games policy.

Xbox 360 support plans

Mattrick said at the Xbox One reveal that Microsoft would talk about its Xbox 360 plans at E3. After the way it abruptly pulled all support for the first Xbox with the launch of the 360, there are fears that Microsoft would do the same with the 360 with the impending arrival of the Xbox One. That is unlikely, in our opinion, especially since the Xbox One will not be compatible with Xbox 360 disc or Arcade games. Besides, Microsoft would be foolish to turn its attention away from the Xbox 360’s massive user base, at least until the Xbox One has a sizeable base of its own. The announcement of the rumoured $99 Xbox 360 SKU would be a pleasant surprise and would also give the device a welcome shot in the arm in India.

EA exclusive partnership

EA announced last month that it had entered into a partnership with Microsoft to bring exclusive content to the Xbox One. We should here more about that partnership at E3. We wonder if this deal applies solely to EA Sports titles or EA games in general. It’s hard to imagine exclusive Battlefield 4 content on the same console that also has exclusive Call of Duty content.

Xbox One price and release date

An Xbox E3 media briefing would be incomplete without Microsoft announcing the release date and the price of the Xbox One. At the May event, the company had said that the console would launch this year ‘around the world’, so it would be nice if it listed all the countries that will receive a 2013 launch. It would be interesting to see if India makes the list, considering that the Xbox 360 released here a year after its launch in the West.

The bombshell

Microsoft managed quite a few coups this generation, and chose the end of its E3 press conferences to announce big news, such as Final Fantasy 13 coming to the Xbox 360. With the new console around the corner, we’d love to see another big announcement to take us completely by surprise.

Microsoft’s E3 media briefing will take place on 10th June at around 10 pm IST

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