Eurogamer Expo 2013: Microsoft Turns On The Charm, And It's Impressive
The Xbox One run up has been incredibly rocky. It has seen developers Microsoft make some terrible decisions only to back-track after universal ire from fans. Deciding to release a week earlier than its rivals, PlayStation 4, Xbox One’s Eurogamer Expo presence was definitely that of a shameless charm offensive. Creating a headline buzz already being the first time the console is playable in the UK ahead of its launch wasn't enough, Microsoft also went and bagged the opening developer session spot, where Vice President Phil Harrison brought out the big guns. Even if you’re a “hater” or Sony fanboy, you’d have been hard pushed not to be impressed.
One of the main pushes of the upcoming console is the Kinect, included as standard. It’s high spec video imaging and definition really sets an incredibly high standard far above Sony's equivalent. Demonstrating its capability with a look at Rare’s Kinect Sports Rivals, also available to play at the expo, shows this to be a formidable selling point, and one that simply can't be ignored.
When Will You Make Me A Star, Mr Harrison?
One of Harrison’s most shameless appeal points was the promise to make Xbox players “famous” through some of the console’s player content sharing capabilities. Upload Studio will allow players to record in-game footage, edit, add effects, and share it with the Xbox community. This will be great news for Let's Plays, video reviews, and walkthroughs, meaning gamers will be able to bypass some of the hardware, sometimes complicated set-ups, and additional software they're having to use.
However, Harrison didn’t make clear whether the content will be able to be shared outside of the Upload Studio platform. Such an insular approach may end up rendering it useless as its difficult to see it being prefered, by those making the content, to YouTube.
Vice President Phil Harrison waxing lyrical at Eurogamer Expo 2013. Picture: Courtesy of author.
The Dev-finitive Article
Harrison’s career history is not just that of a marketer, but also as a designer. Therefore, it’s no surprise that one of the things he was most excited about talking about during the session was Xbox One’s commitment to indie games developers.
ID@Xbox will be a specific and direct publishing tool that developers can use (once approved) to get their games out on the Xbox market. It will include two free development packs, full use of all available tools, and easy automatic game discoverability.
Part of this is linking games' purchasing details into videos shared in Upload Studio, adding a scope for “virality” (to go viral) for these smaller games. This will certainly be a big pull and focus for many independent game developers, and a format that may well trump Sony’s own commitment, and seems like a far more streamlined process.
Under the Carpet
But bringing out the charm, bells, and whistles, makes Microsoft seem like they're desperately wanting people to forget the faux pas of the last few months; here was absolutely no mention of the many embarrassing mistakes Microsoft have made with this console's marketing. But it's no surpsise that now hurtling towards launch date, they're bringing out what certainly seem like aces in the hole.
But whether it will be enough to turn many gamers who have already made a decision on what next-gen console their going to buy this holiday season, is yet to be seen. Whilst the pros are certainly tantalising, there still a huge mistrust of Microsoft across the gaming community. We already knew that the Xbox One's hardware specs are great and that there are some fab exclusive launch titles. But we're not sure how genuine and caring Microsoft is about the gaming community, despite much lauding of them by Harrison especially when they've already tested their loyalty a bit too far.
Eurgamer Expo 2013 is taking place in London UK, September 26th-29th 2013. For more information about the event, visit www.eurogamerexpo.com.