I remember being live for the boxing website 3 More Rounds for the third bout between two of the most elite fighters at the time, Juan Manuel Marquez and the pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao. A little bit of background for those who don’t follow boxing: Pacquiao was practically invincible, knockout out opponents left and right, but his bout with Marquez was very competitive. Pacquiao won, and Marquez was later granted a rematch, which was even closer. Pacquiao won that bout by a razor-thin margin, leading to another well-earned rematch for Marquez.
The crowd was pretty equally split between Pacquiao fans and Marquez fans. Marquez as challenger came out first, and people cheered from the stands and chanted his name. Then Pacquiao came out and was cheered as well.
But it felt very surreal when he was booed intensely by Marquez fans. Here he is, the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, walking to the ring in Las Vegas, and the top dog in boxing is being booed. I’m not sure he was actually accustomed to that.
Microsoft finds itself heading into the same situation for E3 2013: the Xbox 360 finally topped the PlayStation 3, and its online system, Xbox LIVE, might cost a little bit but performs better than the PlayStation Network. And yet, since the Xbox One reveal, gamers are heartily booing the pound-for-pound king in the console race.
The Green Team needs to do some damage recovery at E3, and fast. The gamers and the press need to hear things they like and find familiar, and a healthy title catalog will heal some of the pain. But with Microsoft’s attitude recently being a mix of “That’s not what we meant,” “We can’t tell you yet,” and “You just don’t get it,” the big question will be if Xbox One goes on offense or defense.
The logical and likely thought process is that the word “television” will be a swear word at E3’13, and EA Sports will be downplayed heavily, though EA will still be the Harley Quinn to Microsoft’s Mr. J. Don’t expect Call of Duty to go anywhere though, it’s likely to be prominently displayed. Other than that, Microsoft is going to lean heavy on their launch titles for Xbox One, including Forza 5 and the promised Rare IP. The downside of that is that gamers know that “launch window” should mean somewhere within the first two or three financial quarters of console release; the term is pretty wiggly though, and could mean anytime between launch and 2017.
Microsoft could also stand to have some firm answers to some of the confusion out on the interT00bZ about used games, DRM, the need for Kinect, always-on, sometimes-on, never-on, etc. Allowing the confusion to persist will only lead gamers to the worst conclusions. This would likely be the only good time to reference the reveal conference Microsoft would probably rather forget.
The flipside, however, is that Microsoft might just keep on keeping on with its “everything to everyone” approach. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, that kind of thing. In that case, you’ll get games, but you’ll also get the TV, the sports, the movies, the “Xbox, watch The Price Is Right” and when the press writes that they didn’t talk enough about games, Microsoft will blame the media again. Is that fair? Normally I would say no, it’s not fair. But when you’re launching a console based off the most popular system against the labeled “hardcore” gamer, and you spend maybe ten minutes of your hour-long televised launch of your next console actually talking about games, it is very fair to expect a heavy, heavy push on games at E3.
Microsoft usually likes to sprinkle a few celebrities into their pre-E3 press event, with last year featuring Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park) and a quick live musical performance from Usher. But all the glitterati in the ring walk won’t distract people from the fact that the Champ is now in enemy territory, and those boos Microsoft hears are real.
Possible Titles to Keep an Eye Out For: Call of Duty: Ghosts, EA’s UFC game, Madden 25, FIFA, Forza Motorsport 5, Rare’s “historic” IP (possibly Killer Instinct revival?), as well as several Xbox 360 titles including WATCH_DOGS.
What They’ll Say: “Look everyone! Our entertainment console can play games too!”
What Gamers Will Say: “GAMES! WHERE ARE THE GAMES??!??!”
What the Intert00bZ Will Say: “Seriously, could you just give us some straight answers for once?”
What Consumers Will Say: “What’s the price tag? I’m not paying $500 for something that looks like a BetaMax.”
Microsoft’s pre-E3 press conference kicks off the pre-E3 MegaMonday at 9am at the Galen Center Monday, June 10. For constant E3 coverage, keep it locked on GotGame June 10-14.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 11-13.