Editorial

Editorial: Microsoft's E3 was all about games this year, which is why it was great

At E3 2016, Microsoft made a ton of major announcements. It showed off over 30 games including Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Halo Wars 2, and Dead Rising 4. Additionally, it also touted new features coming to Xbox Live, including Clubs, Looking for Group, and Arena. It unveiled Xbox Design Lab as well, allowing players to create their own customized controllers. Then, it announced the Xbox One S, an updated iteration of the Xbox One, with 4K video support. The company didn't hesitate spending time teasing its next console, which at that time, was called "Project Scorpio" - the 'most powerful console ever'.

While many Xbox fans praised Microsoft's hardware and software offerings, others weren't too pleased to see that Sony was gearing up to show off some highly anticipated games at its E3 briefing, the likes of God of War, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human, a console-exclusive Spider-Man game, and The Last Guardian, among others. Whether these games truly rivaled Microsoft's offerings is another debate altogether, but the difference in emphasis on games was rather noticeable in the conferences held by the tech giants.

Fast forward: E3 2017

This year, Microsoft's outing at E3 was a separate affair altogether. As soon as its event kicked off, following the obligatory Xbox One X reveal video, Xbox head Phil Spencer walked on stage, and along with Xbox engineer Kareem Choudhry, detailed everything that's amazing about the company's latest console in less than seven minutes.

This was Microsoft's first masterstroke at E3 2017; unveiling its latest console without ado, describing what's so great about it in the least amount of time as possible, and moving on to what E3 is primarily about: games. This was particularly smart because Microsoft had a whole year to hype up interest in Project Scorpio, and it did just that. It let the public know the key specifications of the upcoming console, why it would be the 'most powerful console ever', and why gamers should be interested in it. Seeing that the company successfully accomplished this, it made little sense to spend time unnecessarily on describing the aforementioned details at the briefing yet again.

Following Choudhry's intro to the engineering behind the Xbox One X, the company dived right into showcasing game trailers, one after the other.

The company revealed several AAA titles, including Forza Motorsport 7, State of Decay 2, Metro Exodus, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, Crackdown 3, Shadow of War, Anthem, and Assassin's Creed Origins. It also showed off trailers for other medium-sized games including a prequel to Life is Strange, Cuphead, Sea of Thieves, Minecraft in 4K, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Path of Exile, Conan Exiles, and The Darwin Project. And it didn't just stop at that, it went on to showcase smaller-scale titles - primarily from its ID@Xbox program - as well. Numerous titles including Osiris, Drunk Lords, Brawlot, Hello Neighbor, and Surviving Mars, among others, were displayed on-stage right next to heavy-weight titles.

The constant flow of this stream of games wasn't disturbed at any time, and the audience continued to be treated by a steady flow of game trailers.

As Phil Spencer had stated, the company would be showcasing a whopping 42 games on stage, out of which 22 were console launch exclusives. This seemed impossible at first, seeing that Microsoft's event was slightly under two hours long and people expected the company to spend more time gloating about the Xbox One X on-stage. Spencer set the tone for the rest of the event with the following statement, implying that the company's E3 briefing would be all about games, to tumultuous applause from the crowd:

Today, we're gonna showcase the world's greatest creators, with a lineup of different types of games for every type of gamer. It is the largest, and I believe, the most diverse lineup of games that we have ever shown on our Xbox E3 stage. Games from creators large and small, games that inspire, enchant, games that challenge us, games that transport us to new worlds, and offer us new perspectives, and games that push the boundary of art form.

Final take

Microsoft's E3 press briefing was a unique and exhilarating affair this year. For gamers, Microsoft showed that it wasn't only interested in developing the best piece of console gaming hardware out there, but it was equally passionate about developing a strong lineup of games to support the system and entice new buyers as well.

Scalebound's cancelation earlier this year, and Fable Legends the year before, left a sour taste in the mouths of eager Xbox gamers, with many fearing Microsoft's dedication to titles that weren't AAA.

However, with this year's exciting E3 briefing, I personally believe that Microsoft has sent a strong message to gamers that its fully committed to developing diverse games, to suit the entertainment needs of every gamer dedicated to its platform.

While E3 is meant to showcase gaming hardware as well, the expo is primarily about games, and this is what the company focused on this year. The ball is in Sony's court now, and it will be interesting to see what it has in store for its fans, as well as potential customers, once its E3 briefing kicks off in a few hours.

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