E3 time is here again, loyal readers. The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the single largest gaming event of the year. E3 2014 takes place from June 10-12 (plus press conferences on Monday) at the Los Angeles Convention Center and is open only to members of the gaming industry.
During E3, all of the major console gaming developers and publishers crowd into the Convention Center and exhibit a selection of their latest and upcoming games for attendees to watch and play. Many new games will be announced, while others that we already know about will be revealed in action for the first time. Check out last year’s E3 2013 stories to get an idea of what goes down.
The very largest publishers and platform holders also hold press conferences on Monday, just before the show opens. Microsoft’s annual Media Briefing runs from 9:30-11am PDT. This is when the big MS will reveal the new shape of its gaming plans for the Xbox One. Windows Phone Central will be there and live blogging from the briefing, so make sure you check back with us Monday morning!
What should you expect in the way of Microsoft and Xbox news from E3 2014? Read on for our predictions!
Windows Phone and Windows 8: expect a shunning
Last year, Windows Phone and Windows 8 were almost completely absent from E3. Nowhere did they come up during Microsoft’s media briefing, nor did Microsoft announce even one new game for either platform during the show. But they did dedicate a small section of their massive booth to the Windows Phone version of Halo: Spartan Assault, which had only been announced a short time before the show.
This year, I expect things to be even direr for Windows Phone and its tablet/PC cousin. Let’s just say the odds are 100-to-1 against Microsoft mentioning either mobile platform during the Media Briefing. The Xbox console folks have never had any interest in Windows Phone, so they’re certainly not going to waste a moment of their press conference spotlight on non-existing mobile gaming plans. Microsoft doesn’t even have any big Windows Phone games in development that we know of, so any booth presence would likely be limited to a few phones and tablets running old games off in the corner.
Then again, Phil Spencer is the new boss of the Xbox division. He has made vague comments hinting at more connectivity between all of Microsoft’s platforms. It’s still a longshot, but Microsoft *could* decide that Xbox games are coming back to Windows Phone. And they *could* announce that bombshell at E3. But don’t hold your breath, mobile Achievement junkies.
Xbox 360: Don't count it out yet
The Xbox 360 has been Microsoft’s most successful console ever, dominating the US market and putting up a good fight worldwide. Even though the Xbox One is now the cool kid on the block, don’t expect its older brother to sit E3 out. There will be numerous 360 games on the show floor, including both retail and downloadable titles. I’d say the number of big titles will drop by 25-50 percent compared to last year, but the B-tier and indie stuff will round things out well enough.
If Microsoft is going to announce a price drop for the 360 (possibly as low as $129.99 for the core system), the Media briefing would be a good time to do it. Then again, they might choose to hold off on such an announcement in order to keep the spotlight on the Xbox One. Having just announced Forza Horizons 2 for both Xbox One and 360 prior to the show, Microsoft might just have another exclusive title in development for both consoles at once. Third-party franchises aimed at both One and 360 are also very likely to appear during the press conference.
Xbox One: TV, TV, TV… Just kidding!
Last year’s press conference went badly for Microsoft. For one, Don Mattrick was part of the conference. Besides that, news that the Xbox One would launch at $100 higher than the Playstation 4 - as well as discussion regarding Microsoft’s strange DRM plans and online requirement plans - completely dominated the conversation among gamers. Disapproval of those plans was so rampant that Microsoft abandoned them less than two weeks after the show. And Mattrick left shortly after that, for the good of all.
Now that the more gaming-focused Phil Spencer leads the Xbox division, we can expect a much different more exciting presentation at this year’s event. Microsoft has already dropped the news of the $399 Kinect-less Xbox One package in advance of E3, just to get that discussion out of the way. It’s all games from here (maybe just a blip about the Halo TV series though).
Earlier this year, somebody leaked a big list of Microsoft’s Xbox One plans. Several items from the leak have proven true already, so it’s safe to expect most of the remaining unconfirmed points from the list to rear their heads during E3.
For example, everybody and his brother knows that a collection of classic Halo games is coming to the One this year. Phil Spencer even spoke hypothetically about the rumored Halo 2 remake. The collection – which is said to either include Halo 1-4 or Halo 2-4 in a single package – still hasn’t been officially confirmed by Microsoft, however. So the Media Briefing is the likeliest place for the official announcement. We’ll probably see the new Halo 2 in action (maybe not the other titles in the collection) and learn some of its multiplayer details.
The leak list also made mention of multiple special Xbox One consoles: a white console, a console with a 1 TB hard drive, and a Titanfall console. Well, we know Microsoft decided against releasing the Titanfall system. But a white console and a larger hard drive are very likely to happen. If either system (or one system with both features) is mentioned during the press conference, smart money says it will be bundled with the Kinect. Having just announced the cheaper Kinect-free console, Microsoft will want to incentivize purchase of the more expensive bundle.
Other games we expect to see during the press conference:
- Halo 5 – maybe a glimpse of gameplay, maybe just a longer teaser
- Forza Horizons 2 – just announced and coming this year
- Fable Legends – not coming this year, so probably just a tease
Possible but less likely:
- Gears of War – not coming this year, so maybe just a tease
- Crackdown 3 – still not confirmed anywhere, but everyone knows it’s coming
- Phantom Dust – A remake or sequel to the original Xbox classic is almost certainly in development. Will Microsoft announce it at E3? If they have anything ready to show, yes!
- VooDoo Vince – Is Phil Spencer hinting at a revival of this original Xbox franchise?
- Unannounced big-name exclusive – Rumor has it that Microsoft has secured a compelling new exclusive title for the One. If the rumor pans out, this exclusive will be part of an established franchise. What could it be?
Windows Phone Central at E3
You can always count on us to show up at E3 and bring you exclusive coverage. Tune in Monday morning, June 9th for our live blog of the Microsoft Media Briefing, and check back throughout the week for additional news and videos from the show floor!