Today is the final day of e3 2011. What a year it was, we had an information blowout on the PS Vita, a ton of new Kinect games, and even a new Nintendo console. But which of the big three, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo had the best e3 showing? Not just their press conference, but developer round tables and booths included. Click "read more" to become pleasantly surprised, or possibly upset if you are a fanboy.
Microsoft showed off a lot of nice titles at e3, including surefire hits like Halo 4 and a 10th anniversary remake of Halo: Combat Evolved, as well as updates to popular Kinect titles like Dance Central 2 and Kinect Sports Season 2.In a shocking move Peter Molyneux announce that Fable: The Journey is a brand new Kinect game that is completely on rails. Forza 4, due October 11, will also make heavy use of the Kinect peripheral. We also saw high profile third party games like Mass Effect 3 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier seeing strong Kinect integration.
The Xbox 360 itself is seeing updates too, with a new Kinect based UI due this fall, as well as a streaming television service searchable by Microsoft's own Bing engine. The system will also enable cloud saving in the near future, saving your hard drives from being over encumbered as well as enabling gamers to use their profiles on the go.
Click "read more" to find out what I thought of the conference, as well as watch a teaser trailer for Halo 4.
Microsoft's E3 press conference starts on Monday, June 6 at 10AM PDT. What will we see there? I think the most obvious focus will be Kinect, seeing as how that has renewed a lot of interest in the aging platform. I think the system will be around for another two years at least, with core oriented games featuring Kinect integration sustaining the system. I expect to see support in new Halo and Gears of War titles announced, as well as third party titles like Mass Effect 3, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and a rumored Rainbow Six game. We will also see sequels for Kinect Sports, Kinectimals and Dance Central announced, to keep a wider audience interested in the peripheral as well.
I also expect to see the Xbox 360 touted as an all in one media device, featuring a new streaming television service, as well as Skype integration. Microsoft did just purchase Skype, so I would say that is a highly likely move on their part. Further integration with their Windows Mobile phones is also a possibility, and maybe even a few exclusive games will be announced for that platform as well. Microsoft will also address a major bottleneck with the Xbox 360, disk space and storage. We already know that Microsoft plans on opening up a couple of extra GB on their current disk format, but what about freeing up gamer's hard drives? I think they will have a cloud sharing infrastructure to reveal that will eliminate most of our problems.
Microsoft knows they have a good thing going with Kinect, and doesn't plan on letting that end anytime soon. Microsoft product manager David Dennis told Joystiq "And in anticipation of another record year in 2011," a press release trumpeting the console maker's strong NPD showings said, "Microsoft announced the size of the Kinect games portfolio will triple by the end of the year." There are currently 26 titles available for Kinect, with another 26 known to be in development. Expect to see a lot of core, and casually oriented software announced at e3.
01. Mortal Kombat 2011 (PS3, 360)
02. Portal 2 (360, PS3, PC)
03. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Wii, NDS, 360, 3DS, PS3, PC)
04. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, NDS, Wii, PC)
05. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters (360, PS3, Wii)
06. Crysis 2 (360, PS3, PC)
07. Just Dance 2 (Wii)
08. Michael Jackson The Experience (360, Wii, PS3, NDS, PSP)
09. Pokemon White Version (NDS)
10. NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2, PC)
Xbox 360 - 297K - Top Selling Console
PlayStation 3 - 204.3K
Things to note: Mortal Kombat had a stronger launch than Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3! That's pretty impressive. I'm also amazed that Just Dance 2 is still hanging in there, despite having released for only a single platform. Don't get confused by the lack of Kinect titles in the top ten, both Dance Central and Kinect Sports have cleared 2 million in sales worldwide, the peripheral is still very much a system seller. This will no doubt allow Microsoft to stick with their aging hardware, despite Nintendo announcing a new console at next month's e3.
In news that probably isn't too exciting for people who haven't used an Xbox 360 development kit as much as I have, Microsoft is offering a new kit modeled after the slim. This new model will cost less, feature more RAM and a larger hard drive as well. I know for sure that the extra RAM and hard drive space will be a great relief to developers everywhere. Does this confirm that Microsoft intends to stick with the Xbox 360 for a while?
Rumors have been flying around the net the past couple of days about the Xbox 360 receiving a new disc format. Many speculated the Xbox 360 would finally get a Blu Ray drive, but Major Nelson's posting for volunteers seems to suggest that it is some sort of system update.This would directly coincide with Digital Foundry's sources that say a new update will add 1GB of storage space to the standard Xbox 360 Dual Layered DVD, helping to alleviate a space limitation that has been plaguing developers for years now. Apparently this extra space is coming from what was originally blocked off for piracy protection. It is unclear if they eliminated that partition entirely or gave it a drastic cut, but Microsoft must know what they are doing. This move is was either prompted by a game needing that extra space or possibly to allow the aging DVD format to hang in there a little while longer since the Xbox 360 likely has a couple of years of life left in it.
Rare was working on a "core" follow up to Perfect Dark Zero that featured a gritty, more flirtatious take on Joanna Dark's character and...mechs?
On second thought maybe it was a good idea that Microsoft cancelled this. I know one thing for sure, this concept art definitely meant that they were headed in the wrong direction. Maybe games like Kinect Sports is all modern day Rare can handle, most of their decent first person shooter developers left to form Free Radical long ago anyway.
Some may be disappointed by this cancellation, but to me it only leaves Rare one less opportunity to ruin a franchise I once loved. Perfect Dark on the N64 was well ahead of its time in delivering unique weapons, a strong campaign and incredibly robust multiplayer. I'd rather remember it the way it was than have to relive Zero again.
Watch an animation clip from the cancelled title after the break
1.) Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, WII, NDS, PC)
2.) Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (360, PS3)
3.) Just Dance 2 (Wii)
4.) NBA 2K11 (360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PS2, PC)
5.) Dead Space 2 (360, PS3, PC)
6.) Zumba Fitness: Join the Party (Wii, 360, PS3)
7.) Bulletstorm (360, PS3, PC)
8.) Killzone 3 (PS3)
9.) Michael Jackson The Experience (Wii, DS, PSP)
10.) Mario Sports Mix (Wii)
Xbox 360: 535,000
Things to note: Call of Duty: Black Ops is now the best selling game of all time in the United States, edging out Wii Play which had previously held the record. Microsoft did really well this month, recording the highest non-holiday month sales in the Xbox 360's lifespan.
Microsoft has begun posting job openings regarding the Xbox 360's successor on Linkedin. They are currently looking for a graphics hardware architect, a senior architect and performance engineer, and a senior hardware design verification engineer for the Xbox console architecture group. I think their first order of business should be re-branding the console, Xbox is still one of the worst names that could ever happen to a game console- unless you are a Mountain Dew guzzling extreme gaming teen that is. The graphics hardware architect's responsibilities include "architecture analysis, key technology selection, architecture specification, communication and collaboration with extended Microsoft teams and partner companies." The senior architect will be primarily focused on performance evaluation and modelling. This person will likely be under a lot of pressure since Microsoft will not want to repeat the red ring of death situation that plagued the first half of this console generation. The senior hardware design verification engineer will be in charge of the "design verification and qualification of the Xbox console at the component, motherboard, and system levels."
Now that all that technical jargon is out of the way we can discuss what this means for gamers. How soon will we see a new Xbox? I am thinking it is still at least 2-3 off, seeing as how these job postings suggest the console is in early development. It seems as though Microsoft intends to ride the Xbox 360 out another couple of years on the back of Kinect, so don't worry about having to buy a new console just yet.