Micorosoft predictions, expectations
19 August 2013, 17:51
Cape Town - Microsoft's no-show at gamescom 2012 was notable simply because it showed a lack of confidence in the company's own Xbox 360 line-up for the holidays and into 2013, and being unable to even hint at its plans for the next generation of games with Xbox One, Microsoft relied on its splashy (but ultimately lacklustre) E3 2012 showcase to get it through the year.
Following a more impressive presence at E3 2013 and the full unveiling of an initial game line-up for Xbox One, however, Microsoft will be attending gamescom 2013 complete with a media event (more akin to previous gamescom "Play Days" than a conference) to give press some hands-on time with the games and the chance to chat with developers too.
After announcing a price for Xbox One at E3, we're expecting Microsoft to reveal an exact release date for the console during the week of gamescom 2013.
The publisher is in a unique position in that, because it won't be holding a traditional press conference filled to bursting with exciting snippets of news, there will be an opportunity to react to Sony's PlayStation 4 launch date and media briefing (which takes place directly before the Xbox One event) and position any further Xbox One news accordingly.
Microsoft has also confirmed that a brand new Xbox One game will be revealed at gamescom 2013, and while rumours and hints hitting the internet have pointed to Crackdown 3, or the potential of a Fable massively multiplayer online RPG from Lionhead, the better bet would be on the announcement of the debut game from Black Tusk Studios (nee Microsoft Studios Vancouver), which was teased during E3 with an in-engine trailer and declared to be "the next Halo" and "Microsoft's next big entertainment franchise", according to the team's Mike Crump.
Could Black Tusk's first game turn out to be Crackdown 3, or will it be an all-new intellectual property? Personally, we're hoping (and betting on) the latter, although the next Crackdown (if handled well) would be welcome too.
Following on from Microsoft's poor messaging regarding Xbox One's features, it's expected that we'll learn more about how the publisher will be approaching independent game developers and helping them to create and easily release games on Xbox One, and we're hoping to hear official European and worldwide price details for the console's accessories.
We mustn't forget about the Xbox 360 just yet, however, and this year’s promised Dashboard update will not only bring with it a fresh new look, but it'll also mark the end of MS Points as a currency on Xbox LIVE as Microsoft shifts its online payment model to real-world currencies - we're expecting a launch window for the Dashboard update to be revealed during gamescom 2013, with more details on what to expect at the show, too.
Despite Microsoft making vast overhauls to its previous plans for Xbox One and scrambling to deliver parity with the PlayStation 4 by stepping back from its always-online strategy, including a headset in every console box, instilling confidence in independent game developer support, revealing slightly higher specifications for the console, re-introducing the Xbox LIVE family subscription, announcing an adapter for current wired headsets and more, we feel as though we’ve seen the end of the company’s mad dash to make up with the gaming world and from here until launch, the messaging regarding games and services will resume, starting at gamescom 2013.
Finally (and a bit of a wish), it would be exciting to hear Microsoft announce a service equivalent to Sony's PlayStation Plus membership as a value add for Xbox LIVE subscriptions, but after something of a false start for Games With Gold on Xbox 360, there will need to be a lot of thought and careful planning before anything like this comes to fruition once the current offering ends this year.
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