Microsoft E3 keynote address was full of surprises.

I’m not an Xbox 360 owner myself, but if you are then the Microsoft E3 keynote address yesterday gave you a lot of things to look forward to in the coming months.

One of the biggest announcements was probably the fall update coming for Xbox Live which will radically alter how it looks—my sister-in-law’s better half called it “Vista-esque”—and adds things such as Nintendo Mii-ish like avatars, which seems like a pretty transparent ploy to try and counter the aforementioned Miis and the upcoming Playstation Home. Nintendo has certainly captured a lot of the casual gaming market and Microsoft is setting their sights on trying to claim some of that for themselves. The new avatars and a whole bunch of more causal oriented games coming soon are the result. Quite a few new features are aimed at encouraging social interactions with your friends online including being able to enter a multi-chat environment using your avatars as well as move from game to game as a group (assuming you all have the same game).

They also announced new deals for downloadable movies and videos with NBC/Universal and Netflix. Xbox Live Gold members who also have active Netflix accounts will be able to access their Netflix Watch Now queue to stream movies straight to their Xbox 360 at no extra charge. Additionally you’ll be able to share those streaming videos with your friends using the previously mentioned avatar social tools. Alas those buddies will also have to be Gold members and have Netflix accounts to participate.

Three other announcements worth noting include the fact that soon you’ll be able to copy an entire game off of DVD onto the Xbox 360 hard drive, assuming you have one, and run it from there to speed up load times. You’ll still need to have your disc in the drive to play, but if load times are a concern then this should help. Of course this means you’ll be using up lots more hard drive space so they’re dropping the 20GB version of the 360 and replacing it with a 60GB version. The last, and probably biggest, announcement was that the Xbox 360 will be getting a port of Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII, which was believed to be a PS3 exclusive.

I’ve got to give Microsoft credit for managing to diminish some of the titles that were big Playstation hardware sellers in the past. Grand Theft Auto IV and now Final Fantasy XII would’ve likely sold a shitload of PS3s had they remained exclusives like the previous versions had. For some strange reason Sony hasn’t focused on spending any money to secure exclusive titles for the PS3 as it has in the past and it’s probably cost them some hardware sales as a result. It’ll be interesting to see what Sony has to say in their upcoming E3 keynote to try and put a little momentum behind their flagship product.



14 thoughts on “Microsoft E3 keynote address was full of surprises.

  1. A simultaneous release of FFXIII on 360 and PS3 …

    Who could’ve imagined… Oh, me!

    What worthy exclusives are left for PS3 now?
    I need Little Big Planet and L.A. Noire to pull a Square-Enix. Not really a fan of MGS4 and GT5.

    My roommate just bought a combo HD-DVD + Blu-Ray drive for our media-PC for only $120. The PS3 is only the cheapest Blu-Ray player if you don’t already have a PC.

  2. I seriously doubt you’ll see LBP pull a Square-Enix considering that Sony’s publishing it themselves and have invested a fair bit of money into its development. Sony obviously knows it has a system seller on its hands with LPB and they did a good portion of their E3 Keynote address today using levels designed in LPB instead of the traditional PowerPoint slides. The folks at Joystiq deemed it as follows: “Best. Presentation. Ever. Okay this is disgustingly cute. Perhaps some distraction from the stats, but we’re digging it.”

  3. Apparently, it seems some Final Fantasy fans threw a fit yesterday, calling SquareEnix a bunch of traitors and swearing they will never buy another game from them again over one announcement that a game will be multiplatform.

  4. Minor point, but can we please do away with this “casual gamer/hardcore gamer” nonsense? I’ve been playing video games since I could walk and have owned just about every non-Sega system to grace this Earth. I’ve beaten tons of games, played tons more, spent many hours straight in front of a TV or PC, and for some reason the New Turks of gaming, those douchebags that watch SpikeTV’s idiotic Video Game Awards, and the modern gaming media have decided that because I don’t play Gears of War, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, or waste my life on an MMO, and I value gameplay and fun over some asshole’s definition of “maturity” and would rather play a game than watch a semi-interactive movie or whatever the hell they care about these days, I am somehow a “casual” gamer and not a “hardcore” gamer. I find that dichotomy to be ignorant and insulting.

    Casual gamer my ass.

    Okay, rant over.

  5. Akusai, I honestly think there is a distinction between casual and hardcore gamers that is worth noting. It probably helps that my wife falls into the casual gamer definition pretty well. I’m nowhere near as hardcore as some, but compared to her I fit the definition pretty well.

    And there’s a definite difference in the games aimed at each segment of the market. Casual gamers are getting a lot of attention because of two factors: 1) There’s a lot more of them than there are of hardcore gamers so when a casual game is a hit it sells big numbers and 2) development costs on casual games is a lot lower than hardcore. Do the math.

  6. off-topic (and my apologies for it!): i often visit your site (and it won’t stop because of the following – unless you kick me off the comments section!) – i dig it, but every time i see obama in the sidebar i wonder how the person that i seem to know (which most definitely is, arguably, NOT the person you are – i just get the abridged online version, of course) could vote for obama with his recent senate/presidential activity (i.e.  voting for something that does away with the 4th amendment, let’s telcos (and the government) off the hook for doing illegal things, blurring the line between separation of church and state and funding a bad war with immense sums of money instead of trying to stop it).

    i’m just a bit confised is all.

  7. What Les said. There are obviously different profiles for gamers; they differ on a number of counts: How much time they wastespend gaming, how much $$$ they expend on their rigs and/or consoles, what genres they like, how much fan serviceeye candy they ask for, how long they’ll keep playing a game, and so on.

    Games that take multiple years to develop, have a similarly long projected shelf-life, and come at a premium are somewhat risky endeavors, particularly in times of economic downturns and the DRM may alienate a relatively thin customer base. If I were a game vendor, I’d think hard about simple but engrossing games that are cheap to pull off—and write off, if they bomb.

  8. C, I won’t kick you off for asking an honest question even if it’s off topic, but I’m going to keep my reply short so as not to derail the current discussion. If you want to reply further then drop me an email and I’ll start an open thread.

    Long answer short: Because he’s still better than the alternative.

  9. I’m not saying that there is no such demographic grouping so much as I am taking umbrage with the way the groups are decided.

    I spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours a year on games, but because they aren’t the right games, as decided by someone who probably hasn’t been gaming as long as I have, I’m only a “casual” gamer. Because I care less about powerhouse graphics, blood and gore, and convoluted Japanese narratives than I do having a good time, I’m casual.

    Because I’d rather binge-play Mario Galaxy than Halo 3, I’m casual. And I don’t think that’s at all correct. I think many of the people making that judgement are doing it to marginalize my game choice and gameplay priorities.

  10. My son (12) has a Wii. All he wanted. Not a PS3, not an X-Box. I guess because it’s more accessable.  Because of that I’ve started reading Wii related news, and saw an article on the BBC website today.

    Basically Nintendo saw a gap in the market.  The hardcore gamer market is a) finite b) small, and c) intensely competative.  However with a Wii there are lots of freindly games, so they capture the non-gamer market.  My wife will join in a game of bowling, but not “Death Rampage 5”.  The Mii’s are fun to create- little cartoon yous in the TV.  PS3 may be the most ‘realistic experience ever’ or whatever but Wii’s are fun.  And at the end of the day no computer game is realistic when you do the real thing.

  11. In my view, the Wii was made for those who are interested in gaming and want to try it out.  The 360/PS3 are for more advanced gamers while the PC are for Experts in gaming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.