This entire week, I plan on laying down my thoughts when it comes to all the conferences in E3, and I plan on doing videos about everything I can for every one next week after every conference and also lay a huge master blog post I will share not just here, but in Destructoid as well. My next topic is with a company I grew to get attached to thanks to their superior online offerings, their awesome 1st party titles, and their exclusive downloadable games for their awesome service, XBLA. Of course, I'm talking about Microsoft and they are set to be the first ones out of the gate when they present this year, as usual, and they can come out with a strong conference and establish the momentum first and come out pretty well. The Xbox 360 is one of my favorite things that Microsoft has come out with and I didn't think I would be a lover for the Xbox since I was like most people at first and thought Halo was their only good game. Gears of War was the game that made me fall in love with the Xbox 360 and since then, for over 5 years, I have been a Gold Member and I've loved everything about what they've done so far. However, last year's conference was great and not so great on both ends. Where it started to turn me off was when the actors came out and started acting, BADLY, and they followed the trend from when the Kinect was first revealed. At first, it was nauseous, and then they brought it back last year and I was like, are we in a babies' show now? What is with these kids and this Disney game? Why are those dumb jocks, who are obviously not gamers, pretending to be gamers playing football for the Kinect? What were they thinking?
In my opinion, Microsoft never attempted to cater for young kids before this aggressively during the last 2 years since the Kinect came to be. But when they showed it in action with Mass Effect 3 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, it became more of a possibility that Kinect could become a very powerful tool to use for gaming and not a gimmick to compete again Nintendo and their Wii dominance. This year they need to come out with something that will make the hardcore crowd it's currently focused in fall in love with the Kinect, and offer more than just a few games and a few more Dance Central games because the truth is, all of this has been done and it needs to get past this. Of course, it's also about the games coming to the console as well and they need a strong presence to get the show going.
1) Xbox 1st party games
The main reason why Xbox 360 has been such a huge hit it's because the exclusive titles available for the console are in my opinion the strongest in the show. Although some games, like Bioshock Infinite last year, are pretty much the overall attention and it's for multiple consoles, the Xbox exclusives have been very strong and very attractive to the gamers in the past. Gears of War ended gracefully, Fable is something that can still be tapped if done right, and others are very strong if shown and given some attention. Halo 4 is going to be the mayor game for the Microsoft conference since it's the return of the franchise that started Xbox and the beginning of a brand new trilogy and a chapter for the new company creating all of Halo's content, 343 Industries. They did an amazing job with the series so far and gave justice to the Halo Anniversary Edition and I believe they are the right team for the job to follow Bungie's legacy. But what else can Microsoft show this year? How are people are going to be more attracted to get a 360 if the current lineup is still not good enough? The answer is to show new IPs, more exclusives and offer the gamers something they haven't seen before. It's obvious it might start with Black Ops 2, just like it did with MW3 last year, but if they didn't and they started with something new and fresh and exciting, it could make a strong entrance and it'll make the rest of the presentation even sweeter
2)Kinect is not for babies
I don't have a Kinect. I don't even want one. And there is a good reason why. Although now that I'm in Weight Watchers I can definitely put in some great use for the Kinect fitness games and get me into good shape, the Kinect is not suppose to be a fitness machine or an assistant to help you lose weight. It's great that the Kinect is helping kids and adults get of the couch and get more active and do more exercise and sweat and even have fun in the process as well, the Kinect was not built for that purpose exclusively. The Kinect was created to offer a new way into playing games and it has been one bomb after the other. Kinect Star Wars is the most recent good example of hype just gone completely wrong. Kinect was not just hyped, it was orchestrated hype. It got Cirque de Soleil involved and got them to give E3 2010 the most hyped piece of hardware in recent memory. I can't stretch out how much they tried to make the Kinect seem like it was the best thing in the world, and Star Wars was suppose to be the flagship title to make the Kinect a guaranteed purchase. But it wasn't really...it was the final nail in the coffin for George Lucas and Star Wars. It all ended when they created Galactic Dance-Off, a very poor Dance Central rip-off, putting Han Solo in the same chamber prior to his carbonite imprisonment, and making him dance to a very bad Star Wars version of Going Solo by Jason Derulo. Thanks to this version, I can't even enjoy the song anymore without thinking of Han Solo, one of Star Wars most iconic characters, dancing in the same room that he got imprisoned in and I can't stop thinking of that song every time that scene comes in the movie. Kinect Star Wars was awful, and further pushed me away from buying a Kinect and I'm pretty sure it did the same for almost everyone else that felt the same way.
To get back their self respect and to get gamers into believing that the Kinect is not a novelty and a trend that will go away soon, they need to push Kinect the way it was meant to be. The small things like how they incorporated it in Mass Effect 3 or how you can fully customize weapons in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier or even fire with it as well is a step towards the right direction. Also, something they they don't do at all it incorporate Kinect as a way to interact with the game's environment, like with screens, or puzzles or different things to make hybrids. If they did more games that make use of the Kinect and not as the primary controller, I believe that the Kinect can be much stronger and more liked but the hardcore crowd.
3)Xbox Dashboard Updates that work
The new Dashboard looks better, but it's gotta be one of the most annoying upgrades they have ever done for the Xbox Dashboard. I know that they wanted to add more interactivity and more entertainment to the Dashboard and the channels are actually working much better now but some are still a pain in the ass to use. The YouTube channel is the most problematic to me and for some reason, I seem to always get disconnected from my Xbox Live account, a problem I never used to have until they moved to the new Dashboard. What they need to do is redo the Dashboard and make it more simpler to find things, and make it useful without making someone buy a Kinect for it. They clearly only meant these changes for those that he a Kinect to tell the Xbox where to take them, but for the rest, it's just a big waste and it's a pain to use. Plus there are so many ads now that it just takes away from the entire uniqueness it had before. Why are there so many ads in every corner of the Dashboard? It may seem like I'm complaining a lot, but if you are adding something, it might as well be something useful.
4) GEARS OF WAR
I just literally found this out right now, and I cannot believe how amazingly excited I am about this news. On the next Game Informer, the cover of it is going to be Gears Of War, and it's about the next installment of the series. Let me repeat that...GEARS OF WAR SEQUEL!!!!!!! The series ended with the 3rd game pretty well and I didn't think there was anything else that needed to be done, but in reality, there really is plenty that can be done, like an origins story about how the entire thing happened and the story behind Marcus Fenix's dad and how the Locust came to be on Resurgence Day, and how the COG became to be and the Scraps distanced themselves from the rest of the COG and well, pretty much anything before the 1st game and you can have an amazing origin story. I honestly cannot imagine anything else other than that, but they confirmed that this will be one of the things that will be mentioned on E3 on the 1st day. This is the game that is going to have the chance and steal the show early, even if it's another sequel and not a new IP or whatever, this game is gonna strike to the fans and it'll get me and the rest of the fans of the GOW saga pumped all over again. And you can bet that Cliffy B will be there, along with (name of special guest voice actor) and we'll be blown away. I predict that the new Unreal Engine will also be on display and it will most likely be the driving force of the new game. Because why not with Gears of War, right?
What I wish to see Microsoft do for E3 2012:
New console- They already said that they are not introducing this year any new hardware, but at the same time, when to we ever get to know everything about the show anyway. Too many surprises get spoiled and we know eventually what happens. Which is why is would be so freak so freaking hard if this E3 Microsoft at the end of the conference gave us a Steve Jobs "One More Thing" moment, and then ended up revealing the actual console and we would all just freak out together. Just imagine it guys.
Spotify- I know that there are a bunch of channels available for the Xbox and some are music channels like last.fm and VEVO, but wouldn't it be cool if Spotify, probably the best music streaming service that is currently available today would have the ability to search it's immense catalog of songs from the Xbox and obviously share your playlists, but at the same time, why not go a step further and share with the Xbox community and share each others playlists of course. It's a long shot guess, but since I'm thinking of using Spotify, I might as well expand my horizons and enjoy this even better from the Xbox and share with the rest of the community like anyone with Spotify usually does with Facebook.
Mass Effect Sequel- I know that most people were very upset with the ending of Mass Effect 3 and many were promised that the DLC coming will expand and give gamers more closure from their favorite franchise. But imagine if Bioware had other plans, imagine if the DLC turned into ME3.5, an expanded aftermath that will lead you back in the post ME3 world were you will basically be able to use the rest of the squad for once and help unite the galaxy just like Shepard did. Of course, it's a stretch but this is a list of what I would like to see; unlikely, but who knows.
Xbox Live for PC- PC support from Games with Windows is really pitiful and it doesn't sound like a long shot to offer XBLA for the PC. It doesn't seem like it's something that would be too difficult to imagine since no one used GFW anyway. It's just another offering for digital distribution that is trying to compete with Steam. Why compete when you can...
STEAM/XBLA Partnership- Imagine if Steamworks and XBLA came together. Imagine it, I mean, Steam has a really good service and it's no wonder why they are the best digital distribution option that is out there, but what if you can combine the interaction of both services together and also have them share both Steam Achievement systems and Gamerscore in one platform. I know that Sony and Steam technically already did this, but it was only for one game, Portal 2, and nothing has been mentioned since. This can be possible in my opinion.
Microsoft is my 2nd favorite company of the 3 mayor players and at times it's usually been either Nintendo or Microsoft who have come out to give the best conferences. Microsoft needs to do what we expect but also give us something we haven't seen or heard of from all year. We need to be surprised and I hope when they come out of the gate, they engage and become the strong ones that I've known for year.
Tune it, because next time, I bring the least favorite of my companies and put them in the spotlight. They disappointed me over and over every year delivering dull, boring and uninteresting conferences and this year, it doesn't look strong. But let's give them a chance at least. Sony, your head is on the chopping block.