E3: Microsoft Wants You to Use What You've Got

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E3: Microsoft Wants You to Use What You've Got

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Between the Halo and the Black Ops, Microsoft extolled the virtues of tech you already own.

E3 press conferences are usually about encouraging you to mentally start socking away money to fund your purchase of the Next Big Tech Thing, but this year, Microsoft wanted to keep your wallet in your pocket. There were games on display during the Microsoft press conference, which opened E3 on Monday morning, and no-one at the company would mind if you found yourself drooling over snapping up Halo 4, Gears of War: Judgment, Splinter Cell: Blacklist or even South Park: The Stick of Truth as soon as they hit stores. But the message of the press event was pretty clear - the next year will be about getting the most out of the equipment you already own.

The push started, as it has the past several years, by putting Kinect front and center, but this year it was voice commands that were on display. Joe Montana came out to awkwardly showcase the ability to shout plays like a real quarterback in Madden NFL 14, while fans of the more global version of football will be able to perform similar feats (or perhaps feets) in FIFA 13. The voice command that perhaps got people thinking a bit more seriously about Kinect came during the demo for Splinter Cell: Blacklst, when the player whispered "Hey, you" at Kinect, attracting a guard's attention, luring him into striking distance. It sets up plenty of opportunity for griefing - I can't honestly say that I could resist the urge to shout "Hey, buddy! Nice pants!" while my colleague was trying to sneak up on someone - but the potential the mechanic has for increasing the tension of spy games is intriguing.

The press conference came to a bit of a grinding halt when Microsoft began to crow about SmartGlass, which will allow your smartphone, tablet, and 360 to interact with each other in a variety of ways - none of which seemed to win over the crowd. You can begin watching a movie on your tablet, then continue watching on your TV. You could get information about characters in Game of Thrones while you watched the latest episode. You could use your smartphone like a remote. Perhaps the announcement would've carried a bit more weight were these not things you can do, in one fashion or another, already through a variety of apps. Internet Explorer will soon be available on Xbox 360, and you can use SmartGlass to make browsing it more easily, should you want to use Internet Explorer for something.

Microsoft is clearly pushing to make good on its long-standing threat to make the 360 the centerpiece of your living room by adding four new video partners: Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Machinima, and Univision. As more and more households ditch cable in favor of services like Hulu and On Demand, Microsoft's decision to add more TV content to its offerings makes perfect sense. Making the switch away from your cable or satellite provider becomes a lot easier if you can get the same content on the Xbox you already have for gaming. Microsoft will be seriously beefing up the sports programming on the 360 as well, including more live content from ESPN, NBA, NHL, and Monday Night Football.

The voice commands come back to emphasize the 360's usefulness as a TV; you'll be able to search by genre by saying something like "Xbox: Sci Fi" or find a specific show or movie by requesting it by name. I can't wait to find out what results it produces if I ask for "Xbox: Something That Doesn't Suck" or "Xbox: A Romantic Comedy That Won't Make Me Vomit."

Of course, there were plenty of games on display, too, because Microsoft wants you to be happy with what you've already got, instead of ardently wishing for the next iteration of Xbox. Halo 4 offers a new threat - the AI "forerunners" - and has Master Chief racing to react a downed ship, the Infinity, which was commissioned not as a vessel of war, but of peace. The most chilling line of the trailer came from Cortana, who blithely observed that AI like her degrades after about 7 years, and she was created 8 years ago.

We didn't get to see much about Gears of War: Judgment or South Park: The Stick of Truth, but both trailers had definite appeal. The former was flashy and cocky, with lots of bang-bang action and flames, while the latter ... well, it was South Park. Cartman was wearing a wizard hat, and you're cast as the new kid in town, trying to become the fifth member of the South Park crew. The boys' outfits were pretty clearly RPG-inspired, but guests Trey Parker and Matt Stone had very little to say about the game itself.

The titular Blacklist in Splinter Cell: Blacklist is an ultimatum from terrorists; get out of our countries, or we'll commit an escalating series of attacks against U.S. interests. Rather than negotiate with terrorists, we send in Sam Fisher, who seems a bit angrier and more brutal than he has in past outings. Maybe he doesn't like being in the desert. Too dry.

We got to see more of Tomb Raider, which put Lara in even more perilous circumstances, including a drop through the canopy of an airplane, a firefight with armed thugs, and several trips down ziplines. She's more skilled in this trailer than we've seen previously, picking off enemies with a makeshift bow and arrow, but she's also less agile, tripping on roots and slamming into tree branches. I'm looking forward to finding out more when I see the game later this week.

Resident Evil 6 looks to be an exercise in zombie harassment. There were many times in the demo that Leon could've easily sidestepped a zombie who apparently was content to just stand around admiring the scenery, but instead he went out of his way to attack. In one case, he slammed the zombie's head into a bus so that it splatted like a rotten pumpkin, in another he knifed it in the jaw. The emphasis on up close and personal combat is somewhat interesting, but whether or not this will really feel like a fresh take on Resident Evil remains to be seen.

Forza: Horizon looked gorgeous, as did Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and helped Microsoft really drive its message home: Keep your 360. It's got plenty of life left in it.

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See all our coverage directly from the E3 2012 show floor.

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Joy, another year of gaming on my 7 year old 360. There's also already three gritty military shooters, yet another gritty zombie game, and South Park. Old tech mixed with bland sequels and a dash of South Park trying to expand past just television. Looks like it's setting up for another boring year with maybe a few rare spots of excitement.

Susan Arendt:
Between the Halo and the Black Ops, Microsoft extolled the virtues of tech you already own.

So does this mean we actually own our X-boxs now? The modders will be SO happy to hear that!

DVS BSTrD:

Susan Arendt:
E3: Microsoft Wants You to Use What You've Got

So does this mean we actually own our X-boxs now? The modders will be SO happy to hear that!

No since there will still be that pesky ToS everyone has to agree to every time a patch comes out. And it means they are pushing their next console back even further and will continue to stifle the developers ability to create amazing looking games that really make use of modern technology because they have to make it work on 7 year old tech.

What M$ really wants is to push Windows 8 on us in a desperate hope that we wont absolutely loathe and detest it.

Sad thing is the majority of people who have tested it loathe and detest it.

So I won't be able to lure guards in Splinter Cell unless I pay up to get a fucking camera I don't want to use? And what if I don't want to sit in my room and talk to my damn game? What if I just want to play it in silence? What if people are asleep in the next room?

I don't mind options, but I HATE restrictions and constraints. For people who want and enjoy Kinect, hell, good for them. But I don't want to feel that I'm missing out for not being one of them. How fucking hard is it to make Sam say that crap himself at the push of a button? I really hope that will be an option, otherwise I'm NOT getting that game. And obviously the same applies to any other game that will be doing the same thing. The thought of shouting at my TV when I'm playing alone is awkward enough, I don't even want to know what it feels to actually do it.

Microsoft I can't give you much more than a resounding: Booooooo.

Why did you even bother coming to E3. Sorry I don't have much more to contribute than that... Erm... Roll on the next shows?

porpoise hork:

DVS BSTrD:

Susan Arendt:
E3: Microsoft Wants You to Use What You've Got

So does this mean we actually own our X-boxs now? The modders will be SO happy to hear that!

No since there will still be that pesky ToS everyone has to agree to every time a patch comes out. And it means they are pushing their next console back even further and will continue to stifle the developers ability to create amazing looking games that really make use of modern technology because they have to make it work on 7 year old tech.

What M$ really wants is to push Windows 8 on us in a desperate hope that we wont absolutely loathe and detest it.

Sad thing is the majority of people who have tested it loathe and detest it.

Totally not true. The metro start menu screen is a bit annoying, but aside from that(which you can disable) it is a vastly faster version of Win7, I love it.

Baldr:

porpoise hork:

DVS BSTrD:
So does this mean we actually own our X-boxs now? The modders will be SO happy to hear that!

No since there will still be that pesky ToS everyone has to agree to every time a patch comes out. And it means they are pushing their next console back even further and will continue to stifle the developers ability to create amazing looking games that really make use of modern technology because they have to make it work on 7 year old tech.

What M$ really wants is to push Windows 8 on us in a desperate hope that we wont absolutely loathe and detest it.

Sad thing is the majority of people who have tested it loathe and detest it.

Totally not true. The metro start menu screen is a bit annoying, but aside from that(which you can disable) it is a vastly faster version of Win7, I love it.

I said the majority not everyone. When you disable Metro via the reg hack you kill about 60% of the active processes running so yes it will run faster than W7 does, but keep in mind W8 is W7 with a few back end tweaks and the a fore mentioned Metro UI. If you disable all the non essential services on W7 and it will run just as fast as W8.

Well, I think that the WiiU just got a lot more appealing to people.
Nextbox pushed back 1 more year, PS4 not even on the horizon...

Aaaaaand... more of the colors gray and brown.

What did you say captcha, tea with milk?
No thanks, I don't like that combination.

Acrisius:
So I won't be able to lure guards in Splinter Cell unless I pay up to get a fucking camera I don't want to use? And what if I don't want to sit in my room and talk to my damn game? What if I just want to play it in silence? What if people are asleep in the next room?

I don't mind options, but I HATE restrictions and constraints. For people who want and enjoy Kinect, hell, good for them. But I don't want to feel that I'm missing out for not being one of them. How fucking hard is it to make Sam say that crap himself at the push of a button? I really hope that will be an option, otherwise I'm NOT getting that game. And obviously the same applies to any other game that will be doing the same thing. The thought of shouting at my TV when I'm playing alone is awkward enough, I don't even want to know what it feels to actually do it.

What if I don't want to buy a controller just to play my games, and hook up my old Atari Joystick to the system and use that? Why should I be forced to buy new tech to enjoy games that require complex input devices to function?

Although, I do admit that voice-commands aren't as cool as Sci-fi made them out to be.

Captcha: end of story

Well... while it's cool and all to not have to buy extra tech, I don't really see how switching to my smartphone could prove at all useful for accessing game features. It doesn't seem like a very good way to compete with the Wii U GamePad, at least.

BiH-Kira:
What did you say captcha, tea with milk?
No thanks, I don't like that combination.

I love tea with milk!

Scow2:

Acrisius:
So I won't be able to lure guards in Splinter Cell unless I pay up to get a fucking camera I don't want to use? And what if I don't want to sit in my room and talk to my damn game? What if I just want to play it in silence? What if people are asleep in the next room?

I don't mind options, but I HATE restrictions and constraints. For people who want and enjoy Kinect, hell, good for them. But I don't want to feel that I'm missing out for not being one of them. How fucking hard is it to make Sam say that crap himself at the push of a button? I really hope that will be an option, otherwise I'm NOT getting that game. And obviously the same applies to any other game that will be doing the same thing. The thought of shouting at my TV when I'm playing alone is awkward enough, I don't even want to know what it feels to actually do it.

What if I don't want to buy a controller just to play my games, and hook up my old Atari Joystick to the system and use that? Why should I be forced to buy new tech to enjoy games that require complex input devices to function?

Although, I do admit that voice-commands aren't as cool as Sci-fi made them out to be.

Captcha: end of story

There's a difference between technical limitations and artificial restrictions designed to incentivize spending more money on unwanted products.

The Xbox 360 came with a gamepad, and it would be a peace of cake to map the desired feature to one of the buttons on it. As was the case before the Kinect. An Atari Joystick, on the other hand, is a piece of obsolete tech from the 80's that never had anything to do with the Xbox 360... and simply doesn't have the capacity to control most modern games.

Captcha: modern love

JediMB:
An Atari Joystick, on the other hand, is a piece of obsolete tech from the 80's that never had anything to do with the Xbox 360... and simply doesn't have the capacity to control most modern games.

Captcha: modern love

And in a lot of cases, the Kinect also lacks the capacity to control modern games.

Seems to me like this is a pathetic and desperate attempt to sell off the millions of Xbox 360's still sitting in warehouses before next year when they announce the next one. Yeah sorry, we're not fooled Microsoft.

No Google Chrome on my Xbox? That sucks.

Oh and err, still not buying Kinect, I don't care if they make the damn controllers obsolete, I'm never going to buy a damn Kinect.

And here comes another year where my machine wont even be stressed by 80% of the games on the market. Yay for stagnation!

Note. That number is low because a good 19% of games are horribly optimized and chug on my computer anyway. Lookin at you ToR.

Microsoft: Use what you've already got - if you actually own a Kinect, that is.

Still a welcome message, I'm in no mood to chip out for new hardware any time soon!

Tradjus:
Seems to me like this is a pathetic and desperate attempt to sell off the millions of Xbox 360's still sitting in warehouses before next year when they announce the next one. Yeah sorry, we're not fooled Microsoft.

Or plausibly before the Xbox 360 gets banned from being imported into the U.S.

JediMB:

Scow2:

Acrisius:
So I won't be able to lure guards in Splinter Cell unless I pay up to get a fucking camera I don't want to use? And what if I don't want to sit in my room and talk to my damn game? What if I just want to play it in silence? What if people are asleep in the next room?

I don't mind options, but I HATE restrictions and constraints. For people who want and enjoy Kinect, hell, good for them. But I don't want to feel that I'm missing out for not being one of them. How fucking hard is it to make Sam say that crap himself at the push of a button? I really hope that will be an option, otherwise I'm NOT getting that game. And obviously the same applies to any other game that will be doing the same thing. The thought of shouting at my TV when I'm playing alone is awkward enough, I don't even want to know what it feels to actually do it.

What if I don't want to buy a controller just to play my games, and hook up my old Atari Joystick to the system and use that? Why should I be forced to buy new tech to enjoy games that require complex input devices to function?

Although, I do admit that voice-commands aren't as cool as Sci-fi made them out to be.

Captcha: end of story

There's a difference between technical limitations and artificial restrictions designed to incentivize spending more money on unwanted products.

The Xbox 360 came with a gamepad, and it would be a peace of cake to map the desired feature to one of the buttons on it. As was the case before the Kinect. An Atari Joystick, on the other hand, is a piece of obsolete tech from the 80's that never had anything to do with the Xbox 360... and simply doesn't have the capacity to control most modern games.

Captcha: modern love

One could also argue it would "Be a piece of cake" to map the desired features of modern controllers onto an Atari Joystick or 2-button NES controller instead of having to demand a whole new control scheme for the auxiliary commands.

Acrisius:
So I won't be able to lure guards in Splinter Cell unless I pay up to get a fucking camera I don't want to use? And what if I don't want to sit in my room and talk to my damn game? What if I just want to play it in silence? What if people are asleep in the next room?

I don't mind options, but I HATE restrictions and constraints. For people who want and enjoy Kinect, hell, good for them. But I don't want to feel that I'm missing out for not being one of them. How fucking hard is it to make Sam say that crap himself at the push of a button? I really hope that will be an option, otherwise I'm NOT getting that game. And obviously the same applies to any other game that will be doing the same thing. The thought of shouting at my TV when I'm playing alone is awkward enough, I don't even want to know what it feels to actually do it.

Oh, I don't think it's a requirement.. It's a move Sam could always do - you just used buttons before. So this would be an option.

Yeah, it also sucked massive testicles. Half an hour of terrible Kinect bullshit, with the only useful thing they came up with being the Madden play caller, then the whole SmartGlass thing, which I believe was best summarized with the joke the South Park guys made.

Funniest thing I heard all day was when the Rep from Nike said that the Kinect is better at analyzing human movements than the human eye. I'm pretty certain I don't have three arms and noodles for legs. And there is absolutely no part of my body that spontaneously disappears.

Good, keep your ancient tech mirosoft, you will only attract more people to the PC gaming.

Strazdas:
Good, keep your ancient tech mirosoft, you will only attract more people to the PC gaming.

As most people who game on computers will use a Windows computer I don't think Microsoft will care

Props to Microsoft for having compatability for all sorts of operating systems!

7 years and no mention of something new? I'm all for showing a bit of caution and I'd much rather prefer that Microsoft take more time to make things better than to hurriedly push something out. However, it wouldn't hurt to get a little bit of a move-on Microsoft. You can wave all this stuff in our faces like sprinkles on a cake, but we need at least a bit of actual cake to make things satisfying and worthwhile.

Honestly i think this is the best strategy. Developers are still reeling from the super high cost of developing HD games anyway and as such there is still HUGE room to grow in what we see in both AAA and 'second string' (note quite AAA) market. As time goes by development cost go down and this can only be a good thing for the horribly inflated budgets of the ultra safe AAA market. Honestly i would have liked to see more movement to a more open platform in free updates for both XBLA and Retail games but that stands as a bit of a pipe-dream at the moment.

One MASSIVE thing Microsoft can do is to sort out the XBL-Indie 'ghetto'. It's just a mess in so many ways its hard to know where to start. Get your shit together Microsoft.

I didn't think the 360 would outlast the Wii with all the hardware problems it had at launch but as it stands the Wii is pretty much dead the the Wii-U looks like a horrible gamble to re-capture the magic.

Evil Smurf:

Strazdas:
Good, keep your ancient tech mirosoft, you will only attract more people to the PC gaming.

As most people who game on computers will use a Windows computer I don't think Microsoft will care

That was not the point.

Honestly i think this is the best strategy. Developers are still reeling from the super high cost of developing HD games anyway and as such there is still HUGE room to grow in what we see in both AAA and 'second string' (note quite AAA) market. As time goes by development cost go down and this can only be a good thing for the horribly inflated budgets of the ultra safe AAA market. Honestly i would have liked to see more movement to a more open platform in free updates for both XBLA and Retail games but that stands as a bit of a pipe-dream at the moment.

you mean tis good they keep developing costs high becasue it takes twice as much time ti figure a way out to make a game work with such a slow hardware and dont crash every 5 seconds? Its good they keep it?

Im fine with this. I play my xbox regularly (more often these days since Dragon's Dogma is SO AWESOME <3) and im happy with it. Unless graphics are the most important thing EVAR to you, i see no reason to get a new console.

But then again, i could just be crazy, and think that a well made game, with great controls, a decent story and average graphics is all anyone ever needs.

Is anyone else supporting the terrorists in Splinter Cell Blacklist?
based on the info we have it seems they're only attacking America because of US military deployment in their countries.

Sam Fisher, fighting for America's right to do whatever the fuck it wants

How about games? Can I have games? Those things you buy a video game system for?

What? More grey/brown shooters? Franchises rebooted into grey/brown shooters?

Oh yay...guess I can go a third year without turning on my XBox.

I was pretty bummed during the gameplay we saw with the new Splinter Cell game. It was everything I didn't want it to be. They decided to completely throw away the old format of Stealth first, action later, and just went about emphasizing that "Press RB to win" crap.

And I am not comfortable with yelling at my TV.

kouriichi:
Im fine with this. I play my xbox regularly (more often these days since Dragon's Dogma is SO AWESOME <3) and im happy with it. Unless graphics are the most important thing EVAR to you, i see no reason to get a new console.

But then again, i could just be crazy, and think that a well made game, with great controls, a decent story and average graphics is all anyone ever needs.

You sir, are far too reasonable for the internet. Come back when you're heart has been filled with loathing and a borderline creepy obsession with one console's vast superiority.

crazyarms33:

kouriichi:
Im fine with this. I play my xbox regularly (more often these days since Dragon's Dogma is SO AWESOME <3) and im happy with it. Unless graphics are the most important thing EVAR to you, i see no reason to get a new console.

But then again, i could just be crazy, and think that a well made game, with great controls, a decent story and average graphics is all anyone ever needs.

You sir, are far too reasonable for the internet. Come back when you're heart has been filled with loathing and a borderline creepy obsession with one console's vast superiority.

Pfft, i know my PSP is the most boss system ever made, i just dont feel that people are worth the time. I could preach about it all day, and how i'll never be caught without it in my pocket/hands! And how its weight to fun ratio is far better then PC, 360 or PS3. Not only does it play games, movies, and music, but i can also use it as a storage device for [n]any system[/b] with a usb drive.

Its just so amazing everyone is in denial about it. One day when the world sees my genius, i will be crowned Godking, and i may spare the non-believers. Pray you are one of them.

kouriichi:

crazyarms33:

kouriichi:
Im fine with this. I play my xbox regularly (more often these days since Dragon's Dogma is SO AWESOME <3) and im happy with it. Unless graphics are the most important thing EVAR to you, i see no reason to get a new console.

But then again, i could just be crazy, and think that a well made game, with great controls, a decent story and average graphics is all anyone ever needs.

You sir, are far too reasonable for the internet. Come back when you're heart has been filled with loathing and a borderline creepy obsession with one console's vast superiority.

Pfft, i know my PSP is the most boss system ever made, i just dont feel that people are worth the time. I could preach about it all day, and how i'll never be caught without it in my pocket/hands! And how its weight to fun ratio is far better then PC, 360 or PS3. Not only does it play games, movies, and music, but i can also use it as a storage device for [n]any system[/b] with a usb drive.

Its just so amazing everyone is in denial about it. One day when the world sees my genius, i will be crowned Godking, and i may spare the non-believers. Pray you are one of them.

Oh. My. God. I just died laughing. :) Even if I am not spared, I can no longer say that you didn't warn me. ALL HAIL THE GODKING!

KeyMaster45:
Joy, another year of gaming on my 7 year old 360. There's also already three gritty military shooters, yet another gritty zombie game, and South Park. Old tech mixed with bland sequels and a dash of South Park trying to expand past just television. Looks like it's setting up for another boring year with maybe a few rare spots of excitement.

you expected different? sides, all a new gen would mean is 'new tech and bland sequels' not really an improvement imo

I don't usually regret tech purchases, but the Kinect I have set up in the other room (my own room is too small for the damn thing) was a complete waste of money (or rather, choice for a Christmas present). I'll likely get some use out of it, what with all the free (and shitty) Kinect games out there, but I highly doubt I'll make any use of it when it comes to the games I really enjoy (Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, etc.).

I have yet to watch the E3 conferences, but I think I can already tell that Microsoft won't be my favourite show. Still, it won't be my least favourite show either, I've never really been interested in Nintendo, especially this day 'n age.

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