Microsoft's E3 Promises, One Year Later

Join us in reliving the hype of last year's Microsoft E3 press conference with the know-it-all hindsight of what did and didn't come true. Sorry, Microsoft, but you were not perfect in predicting the future...

What good is E3 hype if none of it comes true?

To get you ready for this E3, we've subjected ourselves to re-living the major press conferences of last year's big show. We've pulled all of the predictions, promises and other verbal constructions Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony used to get you excited about their console. And we've seen what became of all those thrilling statements.

Microsoft, your E3 2008 promises are being checked today — exhaustively.

Background: The Microsoft press briefing occurred on July 14 in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. This showcase lasted more than 90 minutes.

Big Money From Hardcore Games

Don Mattrick, Microsoft's senior vice president of interactive entertainment business (i.e. he's the Xbox boss), starts hyping Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, Fable II and Gears of War 2: "Combined these games represent over a half a billion dollars in projected sales. And they will drive console demand in the coming year."

Verdict: Let's see. Gears sells two million in its first week, so that's about 120 million right there. Fallout 3 sells 4.7 million copies in less than a month, so that's about 282 million. We're over 400 million and we're not even at Fable or RE5, so we'll stop counting now. Good first prediction, Don Mattrick!

A Lengthy Fallout

Bethesda lead game designer Todd Howard demos Fallout 3 and says: "This is a huge game with over 100 hours of gameplay."

Verdict: Sure, that sounds about right, though the main content in the game could be finished in about 40 hours.

Fallout DLC TBD

Howard: "We're going to be doing substantial downloadable content for Fallout 3 and it will be exclusive for the Xbox 360 and Games for Windows."

Verdict: True! All three DLC packs are now out for both platforms, and are not out on PS3.

Resident Evil 5 Release Date Confirmed?

Jun Takeuchi, producer of Resident Evil 5, says Resident Evil 5 "will be available in a simultaneous worldwide release in North America and Europe on Friday the 13, March 2009." (Screen showed March 12 2009 for Japan).

Verdict: Incorrect, sir! RE5 came out a week earlier than promised in Japan, on March 5.

Fable II Would Be Awesome

Peter Molyneux, creative director of Lionhead Studios, hyping Fable II: "You've never experienced anything like the dog in a game, but what I want to show you is the ability to play co-op over Xbox Live" [Verdict: OK, kind of hard to disagree]….The story will be great. [Verdict: That's subjective, Peter] … Your son grows. Your children will grow up with you [Verdict: Possibly misleading; those kids don't grow up]… Fable 2 will be out in October of this year [Verdict: Correct!]


Gears of War 2: For The World

Cliff Bleszinski, design director at Epic Games: "Gears of War 2 will be available worldwide November 7, exclusively on Xbox 360."

Verdict: True if you count the U.S. and Europe as the world; untrue if you consider Japan part of this planet.


Sony To Be Crushed

Mattrick: I'm so confident in our momentum and our bright future that I'm willing to declare here today that Xbox 360 will sell more consoles worldwide this generation than PlayStation 3.

Verdict: Too soon to say, but so far so good for Microsoft.

A New - sort of - Xbox 360 Coming Fall 2008

John Schappert, vice president of Xbox Live, software and services: "I'm excited to announce today that for the first time in history a consumer electronics device will be completely reinvented through software… When people around the world turn on the Xbox 360s this fall they will be greeted by an entire new interface, an entire new dashboard, creating a brand new Xbox through the magic of software."

Verdict: The New Xbox Experience did indeed go live in the fall, transforming the Xbox 360 from the inside out.

Avatars Will Be Great, Omnipresent

Brendan, last-name-less Rare software design engineer, describing the NXE's Avatars: "You'll see them in the dashboard when you turn on the system. [Verdict: True] You'll see them in your friends list. [Verdict: Yep] You're going to see them in games all over the place and you'll see avatars on websites. [Verdict: We're counting Uno Rush and a Kingdom Kieflings once apiece, ok? Seems that we've got Avatars in a little more than 10 games so far.]

Avatars Will Have Lots of Clothes

Chris, last-name-less Rare producer: "Really, the number of clothes is ultimately going to be limitless. You can expect to see new clothes released in the same way you'd go into a shop and see summer fashion and the winter fashion, you're going to see the same thing here."

Verdict: True. New clothes keep getting issued for Avatars.

Prime Time Is Coming Soon

Schappert: "I'm going to take us to a new channel, Xbox Live Prime Time which we are unveiling today and rolling out this fall [Verdict: No, make that some forthcoming month in 2009]… This fall you'll be able to play along with all of Xbox Live either as the One, the One Hundred or one of the thousands that watch and play this huge prime time game. And the best part, you'll all be able to win real prizes… Instead of just checking to see what's on TV this fall you'll turn on your Xbox 360 to see what's on Live. [Verdict: Whoa, whoa, slow down there John. Xbox Live Prime Time still isn't live, nor is its launch game show, 1 Vs 100, which is, at least, now in beta.]

XBLA Games Coming

Schappert Announced Geometry Wars 2 for "next month"; Galaga Legions announced as 360 exclusive for "next month," Portal Still Alive coming in the fall "with brand new levels and achievements," coming to Xbox Live Arcade.

Verdict: All accurate predictions.

And South Park Too

Announcer in short promo for South Park Xbox Live Arcade game: "Coming exclusively in 2009…"

Verdict: No sign of it yet, but there is plenty more of 2009 to come to keep from the unnamed Announcer to be known as a Liar.

Community Games coming

Schappert: We will launch Xbox Live Community games this fall as part of the New Xbox Experience.

Verdict: True

Netflix 360 Will Be Big

Schappert: "Xbox 360 will be the only game system that lets members who are also Netflix subscribers instantly watch more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes more than doubling our current content offering."

Verdict: Seemingly accurate, though we haven't counted to ensure that more than 10,000 movies and shows were added.

Netflix Watching Will Be Communal

Schappert: "I'm thrilled to announce that you can share your movies and tv shows with your Live party. We all can watch TV and movies together."

Verdict: Uh-uh. This was cut.

GTA DLC Will Be Huge Part Of 360 Fall '08 Line-Up

Shane Kim, corporate vice president of strategy and business development (but at the time he was running the gaming part of Xbox: After hyping coming of Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Mirror's Edge, Pro Evo, Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, Need for Speed, which all came out, [Verdict: True], he said, "The release of the first downloadable episode for Grand Theft Auto IV later this year promises to be another huge event for Xbox 360 and Xbox live." [Verdict: Ugh. We think he meant to say "February 2009," not "later this year."

Lots of 360 Games Coming

Kim: All told, by the end of 2008 more than 1000 games will be available for the Xbox 360.

Verdict: Too tired to count this one, but we are not encouraged by the fact that the ESRB as of today lists only 703 rated games for the 360. Was he counting Community Games?

Fun Games For Families Too

Kim announced Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts, Viva Pinata, BK XBLA, Scene It Box Office Smash, You're In the Movies — all of these games are coming this holiday exclusive for Xbox 360. Also from Kim: "You're In The Movies will include an Xbox Live Vision camera when it ships this holiday.

Verdict: Correct!

Guitar Hero World Tour Will Be Great, Launch New Rock Stars

Kai Huang, co-founder of Red Octane, out to hype Guitar Hero World Tour: "On disc we're going to ship with the greatest number of master tracks ever from some of the best bands of all time, more than 85 songs with tons more at launch and beyond [Verdict: True].. Our new music studio in Guitar Hero: World Tour is going to for the first time let people make and share music from around the world. This is going to revolutionize the way people create, share, discover and play new music. And with GH Tunes when that launches it's going to be the premiere online distribution platform from where a community of aspiring artists are going to become the next big rock stars." [Verdict: Kinda hard to verify, but we're going to say…not yet?]

And GH Will Have REM

Huang: "Guitar Hero World Tour owners will be able to download an REM track pack featuring three songs from their new album before anybody else."

Verdict: True

And Metallica

Huang: "Metallica is joining forces with guitar hero in a huge way… for the first time in music and vg history. Metallica's highly anticipated new album death magnetic is going to be offered as downloadable content in its entirety at the same time the album is released. First for Guitar Hero 3 in September and then again when Guitar Hero World Tour launches in the fall."

Verdict: Not only true, but proven to be an understatement with the recent launch of Guitar Hero: Metallica.

Lips Will Be Fantastic

iNis founder Keiichi Yano, hyping the holiday launch of the Xbox 360 karaoke game Lips: "It's breaking new ground by being the first game that lets you sing from your own music collection. It's going to be great. Imagine plugging in your Zune or your iPod into your Xbox 360 and singing along to all of your favorite songs. [Verdict: True, though not without complaints from reviewers that not all iPods synced with the game] Lips is also going to be the first game ever to feature these wireless mics that light up with your music performance. And these guys are also motion-sensitive so I can do stuff like this (cymbal hit) even when I'm not singing. So it's going to be fun Lips will ship this holiday featuring best songs from many regions and genres inclusion rock hip hop country r and b, pop a lot of your favorite artists you guys love to sing to. [Verdict: The rest was spot-on.]

Lips Will Be REALLY Fantastic

Kim: Lips is definitely going to be the gotta-have-it gift for this holiday for everyone.

Verdict: Oh, come on. Lips might have been fantastic, but he didn't really mean that, did he?

Rock Band Sort of Exclusive

Kim: Rock Band 2 will premiere exclusively on Xbox 360 this September.

Verdict: True, since he meant it would be a timed exclusive.

Rock Band 2 Will Have Rose, Dylan, ACDC

Alex Rigopulos, co-founder, Harmonix, discussing Rock Band 2, said, there would be 84 songs on the disc, every single one of them a master recording. He said Axl Rose's Shackler's Revenge will premiere in RB2, as would Bob Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue and ACDC. And, he said, "the soundtrack will also include 20 bonus tracks available for download in the fall."

Verdict: All accurate.

Rock Band 2 Will Also Have Fine Print

Rigopulos: "We've made all of the downloadable tracks from the original game forward-compatible into Rock Band 2.. furthermore, if you own the original Rock Band you'll be able to export almost all of those tracks into the Rock Band 2 game as well. So no need for disc-swapping… by the end of this year I'm happy to announce there will be over 500 songs available for play in Rock Band 2.

Verdict: True, just note that he said "almost."

Square-Enix Will Have Three RPGs For Xbox 360

Yoichi Wada, president of Square-Enix: dropped some release dates for Infinite Undiscovery — September 2, in NA, 9/5 in Europe, 9/11 in Japan and Asia — Star Ocean for the spring, and Last Remnant for November 11 with a TBD for it coming to Games For Windows.

Verdict : Wada nailed it.

Make That Four

Wada: "An Xbox 360 version of final fantasy xiii , the latest in the final fantasy series, that has more than 85 milion units shipped worldwide, is planned for release. We believe that releasing an xbox 360 version for Final Fantasy XIII will allow us to provide a game to even more fans in the two regions in North America and Europe."

Verdict: No reason to think this won't happen.

Note: No mention was made during the press conference of 2008 games Too Human, Braid or Dead Space, despite the latter two becoming two of the most acclaimed games on Xbox 360 in 2008.

To Sum Up.... Microsoft did a decent job predicting things, but whiffed big on Rockstar and 1 vs 100. We weren't promised any full games that we didn't get. And most of the hype for upcoming games' features was fair. Plus, they did the awesome thing of predicting that they would conquer Sony, which should be fun to follow in the future. For the sheer number of future-looking statements and overall accuracy, we're giving them a B.

Next Victim: Nintendo

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