Well, the dust has settled and, just like that, we now live in a post E3 2019 world. 2019 has been a weird year for E3. On the one hand, we had a major player being absent, and the show itself was being labelled irrelevant. And on the other, we had companies trying to put on a good show with not much of significance in the way of content. Square Enix, for example, had Final Fantasy VII and Avengers as part of their showcase but the rest of the show was padded with remasters and mobile games. Bethesda had a similar tune to its conference as well. We can dive deeper on how the whole event turned out to be, but that is a topic for another day. The one company that was poised to put on their best show yet, the company to benefit the most out of this year’s event, and honestly, the one that everybody had their eyes on, was Microsoft. So did Microsoft make the best of an open field, or did it fumble and fall short. Let’s take a look.
Microsoft certainly seemed to have known what this year E3 meant for them and in retrospect, they did seem to pull no punches. From the announcement of adding Double Fine Studios to their group of internal studios to the announcement of Project Scarlett and the promise of Halo Infinite releasing alongside their next console, Microsoft has been very clear in their message. That they are focused on games and only games.
This is always a good thing. Add to it moments like Keanu Reeves’ appearance and showcases on big games like Gears 5 and Halo Infinite, the show was pretty crowd pleasing. However, despite featuring sixty games on the show something did seem missing.
For as much as Microsoft have been touting their support for games, one thing was clear, about an hour into the show. Not much new was ready to be shown in terms of exclusives. Despite the acquisition of multiple studios, it was too early to reveal any of the games that the new group of studios have been working on. Ninja Theory’s Bleeding Edge was an exception here as it has been in development for a few years now, as per the studio executives.
The same goes for the reveal of Project Scarlett. I was left confused when the Xbox One X was revealed as Project Scorpio. It felt rushed and need not have been announced when it was, so early before release. Microsoft found itself in a similar position with their next console. The occasion was too important to miss announcing the console, so we had a reveal similar to that of Project Scorpio. A few specs were discussed, and some obvious jabs were thrown at Sony’s console, talking about load times and that their console would eat ‘Monsters’ for breakfast. This was fun to watch and all, but the reveal itself felt unnecessary for something that is to be released in holiday 2020.
Despite the shortcomings though, Microsoft still managed to put on a good show with what they had. While their two main games, Gears 5 and Halo Infinite were titles that had already been revealed, Microsoft still managed to sell them well to the crowd. This was perhaps due to their constant emphasis on their commitment towards games and consumer-friendly practices and services. And they made it evident with doubling down on the Xbox Game Pass. The service now offers more value than ever before by covering PC games and bundling in Xbox Live Gold.
This, in my opinion, went a long way in keeping the show, and the audiences’ spirit afloat. And, to be honest the value proposition is quite incredible. Combine this with services like Project X Cloud and Microsoft may be sitting on a recipe that is going to win them the next round of the console wars.
All things said and done, Microsoft did make the best of what they had and managed to put on a good show, albeit not without its cringe moments. But, did they make the best use of this year’s event. Probably not. And that’s probably because it was too early to show any significant exclusive games. The end result though is that Sony does not seem to have been affected by Microsoft’s show this year. They could still come back next year and blow the competition away. And in retrospect E3 2019 could be the calm before the storm. E3 2020 is already shaping up to be a great event and the wait will only be that much more excruciating. Regardless, my videogame loving heart is ready for it.