Predicting E3 2013: Microsoft’s So-So Next Gen

This year’s E3 was lackluster to say the least. Sony “trimmed the fat” with the Vita. Microsoft had Usher. Nintendo basically reran the tape from their 2011 conference. Ubisoft stole the show thanks to actually showing off the Wii U better than Nintendo and Watch_Dogs. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good E3.

With the next gen around the corner the hype for this year’s E3 is monumental. The focus is definitely on Sony and Microsoft but Nintendo has a lot to gain, as well. All three companies have a lot riding on E3 2013.

  • Sony needs to come through the door running with their PS4 announcement. Get everything shown, give a timetable for release, and for Pete’s sake just announce the price already so the speculation and bullcrap never starts. Sony, the company itself, is in trouble. It is likely that the PS4 will be a major turning point for them and we can expect a high-end device with the lovely design the consumer giant is known for all at a competitive price. No more $599 USD memes. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, VITA VITA VITA VITA VITA VITA.
  • Microsoft hasn’t had a good conference in… well, a damn long time. They like to start strong, begin to fizzle out, and then ruin everything. Drop the circus act and reveal your hand, Microsoft. The next Xbox is going to be huge on multimedia. In fact, after the reveal you might even wonder if it actually is a gaming system or not. Still, the footage they will show will be enough to spark the console war early. Microsoft isn’t in dire shape like Sony is so I’m expecting a more lax presentation to their new console.
  • Nintendo‘s Wii U might be selling but the content is not there. There just isn’t enough to “sell” the console to actual owners. Why do I own this thing? That’s a question I have right now when I look at my Wii U. That is a question Nintendo will have to answer all while ensuring the 3DS continues its sales dominance with more hit games. This is going to be a challenging conference for Nintendo. While the other two are unveiling the Wii U’s new rivals, Nintendo has to reinforce their current line-up to make people want to spend more on the Wii U and not save up for a PS4 or Xbox Whatever.

So that all being said, this year’s E3 is going to be huge. It will be the longest show ever with the most titles to preview and we may even see longer conferences. In the worlds of Sony and Nintendo, they need longer conferences or at least hold private press shows that aren’t a part of E3. Sony has the new console, PS3, and Vita to support. Nintendo has the 3DS and the Wii U. Microsoft has enough time to do what they need to.

With this year’s E3 set to be the most hyped show in the history of gaming, there has to be some predictions, right? Everyone has them. We start talking about it the day after the show ends. “What are we going to see next year?!”

I have predictions for all three companies that I feel will engrave this year’s E3 as not only the best one ever but also support my tagline as it being the most important gaming conference to date.

We already did Sony. Now let’s move on to Microsoft.


Next Gen Announcement

Let’s just get this out of the way now. We all know it’s coming. I won’t make you wait until the end of the article to read about it. Both Sony and Microsoft should be unveiling their new toys in preparation for either Holiday 2013 or Q2 or Q3 2014. So what are the announcements going to be like? One will be extravagant and the other will be alright. Sony has a lot more riding on the PS4 than Microsoft has on the next Xbox. Let’s look more into this.

Microsoft and the next Xbox

Meaning, on the green side of things, Microsoft’s conference will be split in three. One small portion will be the next Xbox, another will be a bit longer to show off the Kinect v2.0, and the longest part will still be for the 360. Unfortunately the worst part will be the Kinect 2 segment and it will last way too long. Microsoft still has a lot to gain from the 360 so we’ll see plenty of showing off for that during the conference.

For the next gen reveal from Microsoft, expect a basic video presentation with run-ins from choreographed dancers to show off the part with the Kinect 2. After all is said and done, you’ll know what the next Xbox looks like but that’s it. Microsoft is going to take the slow route with unveiling information about this system. They don’t need to rush and they don’t have an entire company on its shoulders with this new console.

I think the next Xbox is going to have normal controllers. However, they are also going to sell a $149 tablet specifically designed for Smart Glass. It will be a 7-inch tablet and it will come with a custom holder that attaches the controlled to the tablet. It’s going to look cool but there will be plenty of people asking, “why?” I don’t think we’ll see 4K support from Microsoft but I do think Blu-Ray will be included. Royalties aside, Microsoft has had enough of the flak from devs to not include a better disc format this time around. Unlike the PS4 there will two boxed versions of the next Xbox but they probably won’t be unveiled at E3. I’m expect another “core” and “pro” thing just like the 360 but both will include a decently sized hard drive with the “pro” getting a 1 gig just like the PS4.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if Xbox Live doesn’t change much from what it is now. Microsoft has spent tons of money on design, coding, and research to make Xbox Live and the Xbox version of Metro work and be where it is at right now. The menus will probably look different but overall it will be the same experience we have now.



Kinect v2.0

Did you enjoy the Kinect this gen? No? Oh well, not like Microsoft’s really cared about public opinion of its motion device. Still, the tech for the Kinect is cool and it can only get better. Expect the second version of the Kinect to come alongside the next Xbox. Also expect this segment of the conference to go on for far too long. There will be dancers, although a bit more subtler than the years prior. We’ll see some games, maybe Kinect Star Wars 2 featuring the new tech and it will look a bit better with no dancing Han Solo to be found.

What is going to make Kinect v2.0 better? It will recognize voices better and body movement detection will be much better. I suspect that the range needed for the device will be shortened. Seven feet is a bit much to ask for when many gamers don’t game in the living room. Also, I think Microsoft is going to realize that their family push with the 360 just didn’t pan out all too well. The new Kinect will have some more mature titles and we may even see some next gen titles use it more.

No matter what Microsoft is going to push this thing hard and its presentation will go on longer than the next Xbox’s segment.



Supporting The Current Gen

Microsoft isn’t going to abandon the 360 like it did with the original Xbox when they announced the next gen. The 360 is far too popular still to just pick up and leave. At least with the Xbox everyone knew it was dead in the water.

After the next gen and Kinect segments, expect Microsoft to go into detail about new apps for the 360, some games, exclusives, and how they are attempting to make this upcoming year “the best the Xbox brand has ever seen”. We’ll hear a lot about numbers and see videos on how the Kinect has helped make the jump into schools, day care centers, fitness rooms, etc.

Besides that stuff, we’ll get a look at some previews for games like Grand Theft Auto V (because I still don’t think it will be out before E3), Halo 4’s new map pack, and some exclusive stuff for the new Call of Duty.


Aftermath of E3

I think the one sentiment that will be with everyone after this conference is just how lax Microsoft seems. The 360 has become a juggernaut in the gaming world and I think they aren’t taking the next gen as seriously as they should be. It doesn’t matter what company you are or how well you are doing this gen, everyone enters the next gen with kid gloves again. It’s a brand new fight and its the dawn of a new era for gaming devices.

I really do believe Microsoft’s presentation will be better than prior years but it won’t be extravagant like Sony’s because Microsoft doesn’t think they need to do that. They are doing extremely well right now and they’ll think they can just stride into the next gen with the same success and no questions asked.

Who knows? Maybe they will. I think it’s going to be a tough gen for every company and if Microsoft takes this stance at E3, they are going to get hit with the reality ball quickly.


First Prediction: Sony

Next Prediction: Nintendo