Its new Xbox One console has been available since November. So, Microsoft used its prime position as the first company to brief attendees of the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles Monday morning to focus just on the games themselves.
Some brief observations following the 90-minute presentation:
- It wasn't exactly an apology, but Xbox head Phil Spencer made it abundantly clear that his company bungled the Xbox One launch by releasing a Kinect-laden console that was $100 more expensive than Sony's Playstation 4. There is now a $399 version sans Kinect controller. "Your feedback showed up," he said at the start of the press event. "You are shaping the future of Xbox and we are the better for it." Then at the end: "We will continue to listen to you, our community, and continue to make Xbox for you. Thank you for making your voice heard...for shaping the future of the new Xbox."
- The old southern saying, "Dance with the one who brung ya" could definitely apply to the relationship Xbox has with Master Chief, the helmeted hero of its mega-popular Halo series. "The Halo franchise is the reason Xbox is here today," Spencer said, referring to the very first game that helped put the original Xbox console on the industry map. So maybe the character is now viewed as a good-luck charm after the announcement of the Master Chief Collection, a one-disc update featuring all four previous Halo games updated for Xbox One. Every level is unlocked, so players can step into any mission at any difficulty level at any time. The $59.99 collection, ready for holiday wish lists in November, also features a Ridley Scott-produced live action digital series, Halo: Nightfall, and beta access to the multiplayer levels of next year's Halo 5: Guardians. That's a lot of Halo on one disc. Will it be enough, however, to juice sales of Xbox One?
- A brief montage of smaller independent studio games in the ID@Xbox division left me wanting to see more. Some cool visual styles and different takes on gameplay and graphics could signal a sleeper hit among these less-hyped offerings.
- There sure was a lot of blood spilled courtesy of weapons and blades during the first few trailers for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Evolve, Assassin's Creed: Unity and Sunset Overdrive. After all that carnage, I was ready for the soft, soothing sounds of -- Forza Motorsport.