E3: Microsoft needs games

So we roll on with day two of my pre-E3 ramblings, and we come to Microsoft. I’m hardly what one would call an “Xbot” — especially since that name, like every fanboy pun, is idiotic — but I probably spend most of my game time on the 360. Most of my friends are there, I like the feel of the controller, etc.

That said, Microsoft is looking to impress the least in the Big Three press conferences. Hardware “wins” E3. Yes, the concept of “winning” is silly, but when we talk about who generated the most conversation and excitement, that’s something worth noting. Microsoft hit it big with their Natal sizzle reel two years ago, and people were wowed. Well, most people. I called bullshit, but that’s besides the point.

This year, Microsoft is the only company without new hardware. I’m assuming they don’t have new hardware, because it would be incredibly dumb if they do. However, not having new hardware puts them at a serious disadvantage. Nintendo is going to roll out their new dream machine, Sony has the Vita, and Microsoft has… what, exactly?

Yesterday I remarked on how Sony should respond to the PSN fiasco. So in the spirit of telling large mega-corporations what to do, here’s my advice for Microsoft: games. New kit excites gamers, but in the end we all just want great software. We know about some of your line-up, like Gears of War 3. I suspect the Halo remake rumors are true. And yeah, you’ll probably show off the Night Falls spin-off for Alan Wake. Don’t stop there. You need to be driving dump-trucks of money to Activision, EA, whoever. Get the exclusive reveals on your stage, even if the games themselves aren’t exclusive. Show off the new Respawn project or announce that some huge PC franchise (Witcher? Diablo?) is coming to Xbox 360. Your best shot at generating excitement is to just overload us with games.

This story that Microsoft is trying to focus the Xbox brand on full living room entertainment doesn’t bode well on that front.

Also, taking it easy on the fake smiles and cheesy sizzle reels wouldn’t hurt. Nintendo’s Fils-Aime probably takes the prize home for over-marketing’ed presentations, but you guys are awfully close. I don’t even mind little stunts like the Kinectimals demo last year. That was at least cute. But your scripts are stiff, and that bears itself out in the presentations. Loosen up a little.

  • I remember reporting on Colin McRae’s death at 1UP, and it was one of those sad, serious stories that sticks with you. I know most reporters have to deal with death and tragedy on a daily basis, but I don’t, and so stories like that linger with me. It was nice to report this story today, on some DLC going to his charity, because I didn’t even know a foundation had been set up.
  • PlayStation Store, imminent? Let’s hope so. I still have to pick up that LA Noire and Mortal Kombat DLC.
  • And more charity, this time from Magicka and for Japan. Strange to be giving just 50% of proceeds, but with $1 DLC you can probably assume pretty much every Magicka player that exists will pick it up.
  • I’ve actually played a bit of Empires & Allies — emphasis on the “allies” since it’s a social game. So far it’s a click-fest like any other Ville game, but I’ve resolved to stick with it until it lets me battle, just to see how their battle system works. That is, unless they tell me I have to bug my friends to advance. That put me off CityVille, and it’d put me off here too. I don’t mind progressing slower if I don’t invite friends, Zynga, but if you make it so I literally can’t progress at all,  you lose me.
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