E3 2012 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo takes place next week from June 5-7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Windows Phone Central is proud to be attending for the first time, so we thought we’d let our readers know what to expect.
E3 is the annual gaming convention open exclusively to members of the industry, including kindly journalists like us. The first E3 took place in 1995 – a simpler time for games, filled with Toshindens and Jumping Flashes. Since then, the Expo has remained the largest gaming event in the world, weathering competition like the Games Developer Conference, the Tokyo Game Show, and more recently, The Penny Arcade Expo. It’s sometimes criticized for failing to adequately spotlight mobile and social games, but that doesn’t mean those important categories will be totally unrepresented.
While the actual Expo starts on Tuesday the 5th, several large publishers will hold their own press conferences the preceding day. Microsoft’s conference starts Monday, June 4th at 9:30AM PST. Naturally we’ll be in the audience, reporting first-hand.
Head past the break to learn our E3 predictions and just what coverage we’ll bring you over the course of the show!
Xbox 360 + Xbox Live Entertainment
For the last couple of years, Microsoft has increasingly positioned the Xbox 360 as a media and games device for the whole family, sometimes to the dismay of core gamers. Kinect titles like the upcoming Fable: The Journey and several unannounced titles will take up a large amount of the spotlight. We actually dig the Kinect quite a lot here, as our Kinect Star Wars impressions attest. That said, many traditionally-minded gamers have yet to fall in love with the Kinect, and E3 2012 will do little to change their minds.
On the software and services front, Microsoft will tout the console’s status as the most popular video streaming device in America. They may highlight the recent launch of Amazon video services on the Xbox 360 and announce a few new video partners too. An announcement of the successor to the Zune content distribution platform is already confirmed for the event, so you can bet we'll cover that. I’m personally hoping that rumors of a Kinect-enabled Internet Explorer will prove to be true. Yeah, PCs, smartphones, and tablets are more convenient, but there’s no reason the Xbox 360 should be the only console without a web browser. Let’s also cross our fingers for a more user-friendly and less ad-infested (but still Metro!) dashboard update.
Kinect games and video streaming might not excite gamers who are itching to shoot or hack and slash at things. Don’t think Microsoft will leave those stalwarts completely in the dust. Key franchises like Halo 4 (already announced for a fall release), Forza Motorsport, and possibly Fable will be highlighted or revealed during the conference. We’ve also heard rumors of a new game announcement from Square Enix during Microsoft’s keynote, and Epic Games usually have something to show off, even if it might not be Gears of War-related this time. Oh, and a number of new Xbox Live Arcade games (including several exclusives and Sonic Adventure 2) will debut once again.
Microsoft has already gone on record stating that they won’t be talking about the Xbox 360 successor at this year’s E3. While many expect the new console (codenamed Durango) to launch next year, the big MS doesn’t want to spoil the 360’s continued strong momentum during the upcoming holiday season. A few Durango teases, leaks, and rumors may still pop up over the course of the event though.
This could go either way, but Microsoft would definitely be wise to tout the upcoming Windows 8 Operating System and its gaming features during the conference. We’ve heard that Xbox Live integration will be the strongest it’s ever been on PC once Windows 8 rolls out. A Windows 8-specific Marketplace (like we currently have for Windows Phone) will promote Live-enabled PC games and probably indie games too. The PC version of Wordament with Live support will probably show up at some point over the course of E3 – you heard it here first!
Windows Phone got the cold shoulder during last year’s keynote presentation, which makes us slightly wary about this year’s. But given the increased push towards integrating Metro and Xbox Live across all three platforms, Microsoft’s mobile phone might finally get its due this time out. Even if it doesn’t get that all-important mention during the keynote, anywhere from 5-10 new mobile Xbox Live games could still be announced during the larger Expo, including at least one exclusive. Let’s hope they don’t take too long to show up on the Marketplace. Top Gun (announced last year) remains MIA. Disappointingly, it doesn't sound like Square Enix will have the mobile Xbox Live version of Final Fantasy on-hand - a missed opportunity.
Windows Phone Central at E3
What will Daniel Rubino and I be up to during E3 show hours? We’ll be meeting with several console and mobile developers to discuss their new wares, including our friends at SEGA , Konami, and Babaroga, just to name a few. Expect impressions and hands-on demonstrations of the Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and Windows 8 games that catch our interest. We’ll see what scoops we can find for our sister sites iMore and Crackberry too.
The best and worst of E3
We leave you now with links to some of the best and worst moments to come from E3 in years past. CVG has identified Microsoft’s top 5 moments, which include the announcement of the beloved slim Xbox 360. While we always appreciate good news, gaffes and poor choices can be even more amusing. Someone never fails to look silly at E3, whether it’s Konami, Nintendo, or Konami. Games Radar has 7 cringe-worthy moments, while the trouble-mongers at Destructoid point out 10 E3 disasters. There’s surprisingly little cross-over between the lists, and they’re both good for a few chuckles and groans.
Once again, Windows Phone Central’s E3 2012 coverage will start on Monday, June 4th and run throughout the week. Stop by often and/or follow the e3 2012 tag for all of this year’s stories.
Follow us on Twitter: Daniel Rubino - @Daniel_Rubino and Paul Acevedo - @Segacon. And if you're a developer and want to meet up, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with E3 in the title and we'll get back to you.